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10th Oct 2015

Wales or Poland, who are the true one-man team?


Mikey Stafford

In Warsaw this evening Martin and Roy will finalise their plans for Robert Lewandowski United.

Sorry, Poland.

But you can see where we’re coming from. The Poland captain is Europe’s in-form striker and the main reason that the hosts go into tomorrow evening’s final Group D match with a play-off place confirmed.

A win or 1-1 draw will seal automatic qualification for Adam Nawalka’s team (thus condemning the Republic of Ireland to the play-0ffs, should Germany avoid defeat).

Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will know, if damage is to be done against the Republic of Ireland, the chances are Lewandowski will be the man to do it.

Richard Keogh and John O’Shea may have kept the world champions at bay on Thursday night, but Lewandowski is currently operating on his own planet.

The Bayern Munich striker’s brace against Scotland brought to 14 his number of goals in the past five games and while his current club form – exemplified by his five in nine minutes against Wolfsburg – grabbed headlines around the world, his form for Poland has been outstanding too.

With 12 goals in nine matches, Lewandowski looks certain to finish as top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying. He has a four-goal advantage over Thomas Muller and Russia’s Artem Dzyuba, so even if everything goes to plan and he is held scoreless tomorrow, he is unlikely to be toppled.

The 27-year-old has also contributed four assists during the qualifying campaign, meaning he has had a hand in more than half of Poland’s 31 goals.

However, there is a man with a greater influence over his team than the Bayern striker.

Step forward Gareth Bale.

Lewandowski has twice the goals and twice the assists of the Real Madrid attacker but, as Poland are the top scorers in qualifying, his impact is somewhat diluted.

Wales have scored only nine goals, so when Bale does something good, it tends to counts.

Chris Coleman’s side go into tonight’s match away to Bosnia & Herzegovina knowing a single point will secure their spot at France 2016. If they don’t get it in Zenica they will surely seal the deal against Andorra in Cardiff on Tuesday.

If and when they qualify there is a good chance Bale will have a hand in proceedings.

Meanwhile, in Warsaw, Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will be hoping Lewandowski draws a blank, which would make Ireland the only team against whom he failed to score in Group 4.

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