Robert Lewandowski is undoubtedly the best striker in Europe. His numbers are unrivalled and make him the most sought-after striker around. Thirty goals in 32 Bundesliga games and nine goals in 12 Champions League ties emphasise how clinical he was last season. However, so far at Euro 2016, he has been an unmitigated disaster for Poland.
In the three matches he has played against Northern Ireland, Germany and Ukraine, the 27-year-old has failed to get on the scoresheet and has cut an isolated and often dejected figure upfront for Adam Nawalka’s side. Lewandowski was particularly disappointing in Tuesday’s 1-0 win against Ukraine, missing a gilt-edged opportunity on 12 minutes and then failing to get his toe onto the end of match-winner Jakub Blasczykowski’s pass.
According to Opta, the Bayern Munich frontman has yet to register a shot on target in his three games upfront. Many of his 38 touches were around the midfield area and for an attacker who scored over 40 club goals last term that is certainly not where he wants to be.
Lewandowski has gone from being the favourite of many to win the Euro 2016 Golden Boot to one of the most underwhelming players at the tournament. He joins the list of gifted, world class stars who have struggled to make their mark in France this summer . Even fellow big-name strugglers Thomas Muller, Andriy Yarmolenko, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba have had more of an impact than their Polish counterpart.
"It would be good to get a goal, but I haven't had any chances," Lewandowski said after Poland’s 0-0 stalemate with Germany. "I know how difficult it can be, and I'm often on my own up front. But it's not about statistics – it's about the team. I hope I will score against Ukraine, but more than that, I hope we win and go through."
So what is the reason behind Lewandowski’s slump in form? Against Ukraine he had more service than in previous games but still he didn’t take his chances. Arek Milik’s presence in attack seems to stifle the player with the Ajax man wasting opportunities in key positions and often slowing down the play. It’s not necessarily Nawalka’s tactics that could be costing Lewandowski, instead it may be the quality of his strike-partner.
Fatigue and a post-season hangover remains a possibility, as we’ve seen with top players in the past. Lewandowski also appears to have lost some of the confidence which has seen him score so many goals over the years. While the Poland camp, including Lewandowski himself, will insist that the most important thing was qualifying for the last 16, it’s evident that Lewy’s slump in form has become a burden.
Poland are the darkhorses of many to go all the way in France, but if they are to really achieve the unthinkable then their star man simply must end his horror show and rediscover his Bayern form.