Lewandowski v Kane: The Battle of the Strikers
England plays Poland in the last World Cup qualifying games before domestic football resumes. It could be a fascinating game for the neutrals, with two of the world’s top strikers going head-to-head. We take a closer look at the two teams and which player the bookmakers feel will shine.
England games always attract a lot of attention from punters, especially with the feel-good factor after England’s Euro 2020 campaign. They reached the final, losing to Italy on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Wembley. The Three Lions also exceeded expectations in the last World Cup, Gareth Southgate’s team reaching the semi-finals where they lost to Croatia and finished in fourth place.
Both England and Poland would have been delighted with the draw for the World Cup, which placed them both in Group I alongside Albania, Andorra, Hungary and San Marino.
Not only are all the games winnable, but the quality of the opposition also allowed both teams to rotate their squads. This ability to give playing time to fringe players is especially true in the games against Andorra, who are ranked 156th in Fifa’s rankings and San Marino, who at 209th are the second lowest-ranked team with only the British Overseas Territory Anguilla below them.
This ability to rotate was evident last week when Gareth Southgate was able to field an entirely different line-up for the 4-0 win over Andorra on Sunday to the team that beat Hungary 4-0 just four days earlier. The Poland manager Paulo Sousa had the same luxury, making eight changes to the team that beat Albania 4-1, yet still claimed an emphatic win, 7-1 away to San Marino.
Lewandowski v Kane: What Do the Bookmakers Think?
It’s no surprise that most of the pre-match attention is on the two main strikers, Robert Lewandowski for Poland and Harry Kane for England.
At 33, Lewandowski may be in the twilight of his career, but his goalscoring exploits show little sign of slowing down. Lewandowski scored three times in the victories against Albania and San Marino, taking his international tally to 72 goals in the 124 appearances he has made for his national team.
At club level, he is just prolific; his 41 goals in the Bundesliga is the most that a player has ever scored in a single season in Germany’s top-flight. Last season, Lewandowski scored in 13 consecutive Bundesliga matches; only the legendary Gerd Muller has managed more (16 in 1969-70).
Lewandowski’s tally of 301 goals in 333 games is once again only bettered by Muller, who scored an incredible 566 goals in 607 games.
What’s more incredible is that Bayern Munich didn’t pay a penny for the striker, signing the then 25-year-old from Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer eight years ago.
Bookmakers have Lewandowski at 2/1 to score any time, 12/1 to score two and 66/1 to complete a hattrick.
At 28, Harry Kane is five years younger than his Polish opponent. His early career saw him have loan spells at Leyton Orient (18 appearances, five goals), Norwich City (three appearances, no goals), Millwall (22 appearances, seven goals) and Leicester City in 2013 (13 appearances, two goals).
Kane’s breakthrough season for Tottenham came in the 2014/15 campaign in which he scored 21 goals in 28 starts (and six as a substitute). Since then, he has scored 25, 29, 30, 17, 18 and 23 goals in subsequent years. He is also becoming more of a team player; his 14 assists last season made him the top assist provider and the Golden Boot winner.
Gareth Southgate has tipped Kane to become England’s all-time top scorer. His goal at the weekend has put the England captain on 40 goals in 63 caps which makes him England’s joint-fifth top scorer, level with Michael Owen.
With age on his side, he should be able to surpass Wayne Rooney’s tally of 53.
Bookmaker’s have Harry Kane at 1/1 to score at anytime in the game against Poland. The England captain is priced at 9/2 to score two and 20/1 to score a hattrick.
Although the bookmakers feel it is Kane that will win the battle of the strikers, it would be unwise to rule out the veteran.
The game between Poland and England will be televised on ITV tomorrow. Kick-off is at 19:45.