By Ryan Hubbard | Poland Expert
After playing a key role in helping to bring the Bundesliga title back to Dortmund for a second successive season, it was only a matter of time before a big club took notice of Polish striker Robert Lewandowski. And when national team coach Franciszek Smuda suggested before the opening Euro 2012 game against Greece that his forward "is going to Manchester United", all eyes were on the much-coveted striker.
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|14'||SO CLOSE!! Piszczek advances into the box and beats the keeper with a wonderful cross, but Lewandowski is inches away from heading the ball home.|
|17'||GOAL!!!! Lewandowski puts Poland ahead! Błaszczykowski sends an inch-perfect cross straight on to his Borussia Dortmund team-mate's head, and he gleefully nods home.|
|48'||The BVB contingent combine well, but Lewandowski fires his shot high and wide. He was off-balance and it would have taken something special to get it in from there.
|85'||Lewandowski sends a ferocious volley goalwards, but it hits the side-netting. Half of the stadium cheer, but it wasn't quite there ...|
|89'||The crowd rise in expectation as Lewandowski charges through the midfield, but he has no support from his team-mates, and he's eventually crowded out.|
Rumours are stronger than ever after United announced the signing of his Yellow Blacks team-mate Shinji Kagawa earlier in the week, and with Juventus boss Antonio Conte in Warsaw reportedly watching the striker, and representatives of a number of other clubs also checking his progress during the tournament curtain-raiser against Fernando Santos' side, did 'Lewy' do enough to justify the hype?
Playing as the spearhead of Poland's four-man attack, the Warsaw-born striker often found himself dropping deep into the White Eagles' midfield to collect the ball, before distributing it out wide – usually to the right side, where BVB team-mates Jakub Błaszczykowski and the marauding Lukasz Piszczek dominated for large chunks of the first period.
His link-up play with the pair has played a huge part in Dortmund's success this season, and it nearly reaped benefits early on against the Greeks, as Piszczek's cross was just centimetres away from being turned in by the 23-year old.
When Smuda's side finally did take the lead, it was of little surprise that the same trio were heavily involved. Błaszczykowski's 17th-minute cross was this time perfectly met by Lewandowski, and showing some of the composure that has seen him net 30 goals for his club this season, his downward header left Greek keeper Kostas Chalkias with absolutely no chance.
Despite going down to 10 men, Greece's second-half tactics played a huge part in Poland's struggle to feed Lewandowski. By denying the home side the chance to attack down their favoured right side, the tournament co-hosts were forced to rely on Maciej Rybus and Sebastian Boenisch to provide Lewy with the service needed – something that did not seem to be anywhere near as effective.
For large parts of the second half the striker cut a lonely figure up front, and was forced to watch his team-mates capitulate and almost drop all three points.
While Lewandowski did manage to show small glimpses of the talent that has attracted the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson, many will question whether he could replicate his Bundesliga form without the influence of his compatriots Błaszczykowski and Piszczek. But with the tournament opener always going to be a nerve-racking encounter for the hosts, and at least two more games left for the Białe-Orły, there is still plenty more for Lewy to show, and lots of time to show it.Follow Ryan Hubbard on