Poland tries to contain the pressure on Lewandowski
SAINT ETIENNE, FRANCE >> It would be a surprise if Robert Lewandowski isn't feeling the pressure.
Poland's main striker has not had his scoring boots on so far at the European Championship, a sharp contrast to the qualifying stage when he was top goal-scorer.
But his team is trying to keep the pressure at a minimum in the run-up to Poland's round of 16 match against Switzerland on Saturday in the southeastern city of Saint-Etienne.
"We don't have a single problem with the fact that Robert hasn't scored a goal," Poland coach Adam Nawalka said through a translator on Friday. "He is doing a great job for our side."
Though Lewandowski has yet to score, the team, and their star player, have impressed defensively.
Poland owes its unbeaten group stage to its defense. As well as drawing 0-0 with world champion, Poland beat Northern Ireland and Ukraine 1-0. That was good enough for the team to reach the knockout stages of the European Championship for the first time.
Only world champion Germany, which won Group C ahead of Poland on goal difference, has had an equally mean defense.
"Before the European Championship we were working very hard to improve our defensive play and so far it has worked out," Nawalka said. "The mental preparation for this match is hugely important. I am sure that the match tomorrow, which looks fantastic, will be played the way we want to play it."
Poland's newfound focus on grinding out wins is in large part due to the strong play of the center back pair of Michal Pazdan and Kamil Glik, and the imposing midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak.
"We complement each other, and during matches we are always communicating, giving suggestions," Pazdan said about his relationship with Glik. "When we played Germany and Northern Ireland, we were in complete control. We were very well organized and that was the key at the back."
Poland has reason to be confident in light of Switzerland's misfiring attack, which like Poland has only scored twice. Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic benched striker Haris Seferovic for the third group match for Breel Embolo, but the 19-year-old also failed to score.
"Every match and every good result that we get proves that (we have) gone in the right direction," said Krychowiak, who is the subject of speculation that he may move Sevilla to Paris Saint-Germain. "But we are aware that the group stage is behind us and only tomorrow counts."
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