Lewandowski and Ronaldo continue to dominate Poland-Portugal clash

Marseille (dpa) - Neither Robert Lewandowski nor Cristiano Ronaldo have found top form at Euro 2016 but are still commanding respect ahead of the Poland v Portugal quarter-final in Marseille on Thursday.

“Portugal are a great team, they are not just Cristiano Ronaldo," Poland keeper Wojciech Szczesny said. "And some say he is not playing his best! I would still love to have him in my team."

Poland have never previously been this far at a European Championships and meet Portugal, beaten finalists at home in 2004, with a semi-final against Belgium or Wales at stake.

Ronaldo is not likely to be Szczesny's problem personally on Thursday as he is continuing to recover from a thigh injury suffered in Poland's opening game against Northern Ireland.

"I am not 100 per cent fit," he said. "I have started to train again, but need some time to regain my fitness. I would not be able to help the team as Lukasz (Fabianski) does at the moment, so of course I will not play against Portugal.

“Of course I am not happy I got the injury but that’s life. I will not cry because of it. And it is still nice to be here with the team."

Poland squeezed into the last eight courtesy of a penalty-kick win over Switzerland following a 1-1 draw. Jakub Blaszczykowski got the goal, his second of the tournament, in a match which was notable for the understated performance of star-striker Lewandowski.

The Bayern Munich forward did suffer from a bad tackle but as that happened in the second half, it cannot completely excuse his performance - especially as he also failed to find the net in the group phase.

We are not worried about Robert, not at all," assistant coach Hubert Malowiejski said. "Of course he felt some pain after that match, but there is not even the slightest bit of doubt: he will be ready for Portugal."

Regardless of Lewandowski's problems in front of goal, Portugal are not going to underestimate him.

"They have very good players, Lewandowski is one of them but we don’t pay attention to individuals, we look at the whole side," defender Jose Fonte said.

"He’s obviously a top player and I won’t tell you what we’ll do but I’m sure we’ll have a game plan to nullify the Polish strengths."

Portugal find themselves two games from only a second-ever major final despite drawing all three group stage matches and going to extra-time against Croatia in the last 16.

Ronaldo has scored twice, with both coming in the 3-3 draw with Hungary which got them out of the group, but missed a host of chances in the opening games and was largely anonymous against Croatia - though he contributed to the winning goal with another miss which Ricardo Quaresma converted on the rebound.

The attack has occasionally been there, the defence more often than not - but combining both together has thus far proved elusive.

“In the first two games we were a bit unlucky going forward and defensively sound," Fonte said. "The game versus Hungary we let emotions take over a bit. We wanted to win and we left ourselves exposed, which we don’t normally do.

“I thought we rectified that in the last game. We tried not to concede and then got our chance.

“We will always have that chance when you’ve got the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo plus the likes of Nani, Quaresma, Joao Mario, who can make things happen.”

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 11:59
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