Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski are easily two of the best strikers in world football currently. Combined, they scored a total of 81 goals last season for their respective clubs.
The England captain won his third Premier League golden boot for Tottenham, while Polish striker Lewandowski broke Gerd Muller’s 49-year record for the most goals in a Bundesliga season for Bayern Munich.
Many would have been expecting the two to carry this goalscoring form into the Euros and while they still might, both players will be far from pleased with their starts so far.
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“You can barely tell Lewandowski is playing,” said ITV commentator Emma Hayes as the striker toiled in his country’s shock 2-1 defeat to Slovakia.
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The man awkwardly nicknamed ‘Lewan-goal-ski’ by Bayern teammate Thomas Muller barely saw the ball, managing just five shots in the 90 minutes – three of which were blocked and two off target.
This came 24 hours after Kane had one of his quietest games in an England shirt, managing just a single effort where he skied a sliding effort high and wide from just a few yards out before clattering into the post.
His 26 touches throughout the game were the fewest of any England outfield player.
Of course, there cant be any definitive conclusions to be drawn from these games with both players undoubtedly still in that ‘world class’ category but the transition from club to international football, right now at least, looks to be a stark one.
For Kane, it is now just two goals in his last 10 England appearances over the last twelve months. This coincides with a period in which his overall game for Spurs has evolved.
Far from just being a goalscorer, the 27-year-old also registered the most assists in the league last season playing a slightly more withdrawn role.
This sadly hasn’t quite translated to his performances for England so far. Against Croatia he tried to drop deep but was often crowded by his teammates in that position.
To get the best out of Kane for the Three Lions once again, playing him as the focal point seems absolutely necessary.
Lewandowski’s issues are equally as frustrating.
“You have to give Slovenia credit” said former Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong on ITV. “Most of the time when the ball came to Lewandowski, he was surrounded by three or four players.”
At Bayern, the quality among his team means it far easier for him to find the necessary space in a given game to punish opponents.
For defences in the German league, it’s impossible to try and crowd out the striker, or else you leave the likes of Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Muller among others to do damage.
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Poland unfortunately don’t posses as much in terms of a consistent threat so teams can focus almost entirely on preventing Lewandowski receiving the ball.
Manager Paulo Sousa may well have to rethink his attacking approach in future games, working harder to stretch opposition defences in order to free up his star man.
One thing for sure is that neither player will be expected to struggle for long given their undoubted quality.
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