Lewandowski leads Poland into FIFA World Cup combat

Poland's Robert LewandowskiReuters

Robert Lewandowski will lead Poland’s FIFA World Cup campaign with Barcelona’s goalscoring machine among the 26-man squad for Qatar named by coach Czeslaw Michniewicz on Thursday.

The selection process was “the most important decision of my life” Michniewicz said, revealing he had run his picks past Lewandowski.

“None of the 26 are going there for the atmosphere,” he added.

“Each one is at such a level and such an ability that I can count on them at any time.”

Poland's Karol Swiderski celebrates scoring their a goal with teammates Kamil Glik and Robert Lewandowski

A lot will be counting on Lewandowski with Poland in a group containing Lionel Messi’s Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Mexico against whom they open their campaign on 22 November.

Michniewicz said nothing had changed in terms of Wojciech Szczesny of Juventus being his number one choice as keeper.

He is among 11 of the squad based in Italy.

The one area where the coach conceded there was an issue was in midfield, which led to a call up for AEK Athens’ Damian Szymanski.

“Damian has been playing great recently and his team are second (in the Greek Super League).

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“I won’t hide that I spent a long time talking about it with Robert. I put forward my reasoning out of respect for the captain, this great player.”

Lewandowski has yet to make his mark at a World Cup, and remains undoubtedly the key to Poland’s destiny.

The 34-year-old scored nine times in as many outings as Poland punched their ticket to Qatar, taking his haul to 25 goals in 19 games across the last two World Cup qualifying campaigns.

Poland qualified for the World Cup by beating Sweden in a playoff in March.

Their mission is to erase the memory of their tame group stage departure in 2018, with 1986 the last time they made it into the knockout phase.

Full squad

Goalkeepers: Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus), Lukasz Skorupski (Bologna), Bartlomiej Dragowski (Spezia)

Defenders: Matty Cash (Aston Villa), Robert Gumny (Augsburg), Bartosz Bereszynski (Sampdoria), Kamil Glik (Benevento), Jan Bednarek (Aston Villa), Jakub Kiwior (Spezia), Mateusz Wieteska (Clermont), Artur Jedrzejczyk (Legia Warsaw), Nicola Zalewski (Roma)

Midfielders: Grzegorz Krychowiak (Al-Shabab), Krystian Bielik (Birmingham City), Damian Szymanski (AEK Athens), Piotr Zielinski (Napoli), Sebastian Szymanski (Feyenoord), Szymon Zurkowski (Fiorentina), Jakub Kaminski (Wolfsburg), Przemyslaw Frankowski (Lens), Kamil Grosicki (Pogon Szczecin), Michal Skoras (Lech Poznan)

Forwards: Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona), Karol Swiderski (Charlotte FC), Arkadiusz Milik (Juventus), Krzysztof Piatek (Salernitana)