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The Three Lions coach named the Bayern Munich center forward as a player his team will seek to silence
England manager Gareth Southgate has chosen Polish superstar Robert Lewandowski as the biggest threat to his country following the announcement of qualifying groups for the Qatar 2022 UEFA World Cup.
The Three Lions were divided into a group of six along with Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino, with the winner qualifying directly for next year’s tournament.
With Poland and Hungary probably England’s biggest threat to reaching the World Cup final for the seventh time in a row, Southgate singled out Lewandowski, who was arguably the favorite for this year’s Ballon d’Or before the award was canceled. due to Covid-19.
The Bayern Munich forward scored an extraordinary 55 goals last season to lead the Bavarians to the Champions League title and their eighth consecutive Bundesliga title.
“He’s a fantastic player and he’s a good number nine,” Southgate said.
“When you look at it, Harry Kane and [Romelu] Lukaku are the number nine that you consider the best in all of Europe.
“He is a player who can hurt you and his record for his country is phenomenal. That is the challenge we will face at some point, but let’s see what the games will bring us tomorrow.”
Despite England being a huge favorite to win the group, Southgate was cautious about matches against Poland and Hungary, with the latter having recent success in the Nations League.
The Three Lions manager believes rival players are eager to put themselves in the Premier League showcase and matches against England are a good opportunity to do so.
“They all have a mix of teams, Poland is a very good team, Hungary has just been promoted to the top division of the Nations League, so those two in particular will be tough matches,” Southgate said.
“The rest will be games that when I have played or managed for England are difficult games to navigate. Ultimately, it will be about what we do.
“Poland at Wembley and Poland in Poland is a game with a great history. There was a period when it seemed like we were drawing them in every time, so it’s historical like Hungary too.
“There is always an incentive for these nations to play well, put themselves on the map and try to get in the crosshairs of the Premier League clubs, so there are always a lot of incentives for the opposition.”
Despite the praise for the Polish talisman Lewandowski, Southgate was quick to point to England captain Harry Kane as praise.
The manager believes that Kane has grown as a leader in recent months and his leadership is beginning to have a positive effect on the team’s performance.
“They are not only [Kane’s] performances for us strong, but his leadership is growing all the time, “he said.
“He is growing with that responsibility and is recognizing the moment when his voice, attitude and mentality to train with interactions with other players is having a great effect.
“So he’s really growing as a captain and a leader. It’s not an easy thing to do. Captaincy is learned and leadership is learned. He has many natural parts to what he does without even realizing it.
“I thought that in the last few months, in particular, he took a step forward in other areas. We ended up with a good performance and a lot of young players on the field.” [with a win over Iceland]. They see him as an inspiring player to play with. “
The qualifying matches for the World Cup will begin in March 2021, the group stage will end in November and the playoffs to conclude the qualification process in March 2022.
While the group winner will automatically qualify for Qatar 2022, the 10 group runners-up will advance to the playoffs in March 2022, where they will be joined by the top two 2020/21 Nations League group winners who have not qualified directly. for the final tournament as group winners, they did not enter the play-offs already as runners-up.
The 12 teams will then be divided into three unique semi-final tiebreaker routes and a final, with the three route winners qualifying for the World Cup.