Hosts say they won’t target in-form Bayern man but striker feels otherwise.
GLASGOW: Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee says they don’t fear striker Robert Lewandowski as they prepare to take on Poland in their crucial Euro 2016 qualifier on Thursday.
Scotland have to avoid defeat if they are to cling on to the hope of finishing in third place to clinch the Group D play-off spot.
The Scots, who haven’t qualified for the finals of a major tournament since 1998, could still face elimination even if they beat the Poles, if the Republic of Ireland beat Germany in Dublin but then do not beat Poland in Warsaw on Sunday.
Poland, who sit two points behind leaders Germany in second place, could clinch their place in the finals with a win against the Scots and will look to Lewandowski to get the goals to fire them to France.
The Bayern Munich forward is Europe’s in-form striker with 12 goals in his last four games for the German giants.
However, McGhee insists Scotland have not singled him out for special treatment in the crunch clash at Hampden.
“We have total respect for him, a fantastic player,” he said. “We feel we have to match them in every area. Lewandowski is the guy they hope will get goals for them so we have to pay him attention. But we have players in form as well, players who scored at the weekend.”
Meanwhile, Lewandowski says he fears Scotland will aim to kick him off the park at Hampden. The Bayern Munich hitman, whose side then face Ireland in their final fixture on October 11, was subject to some fearsome challenges in the reverse fixture in Warsaw last year — which ended in a 2-2 draw — and expects more of the same treatment on Thursday.
“I expect the Scots will play very aggressively and not necessarily in accordance with the rules either,” said Lewandowski. “We have to give as good as we get. We cannot be frightened of them. If we can play well defensively, we will win. The last thing we want is having to play our final game with a knife to our throat.”
Lewandowski has scored 29 goals in 70 appearances for his country, including hat-tricks against Georgia and Gibraltar in this qualifying campaign.
“It’s all down to us. We know Hampden will be a difficult place to go and win, we are well aware of this. You don’t get anything for free at this level,” he added. “But if we win, we qualify for Euro 2016. We must keep a cool head, be calm and above all not be afraid. If we do that we will be fine.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.
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