Teamwork makes the dream work

Wales’ Euro bid in opposition to Poland to lean on uncommon appeal


Neglect plotting how one can cease Robert Lewandowski.

Wales coach Robert Web page seemingly has only one job to do earlier than sending his crew out to play Poland in Tuesday’s playoff remaining for a spot on the European Championship.

Preserve certainly one of his key defenders away from a razor.

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Wales right-back Connor Roberts mentioned he has by no means misplaced a recreation at membership stage whereas he has sported a mustache. His first unbeaten run got here final season with Burnley because the crew cruised to promotion from the second-tier Championship and he’s repeating the feat now after dropping right down to the identical division to play on mortgage at Leeds, who’ve surged into first place.

“I believe it has performed about 25 Championship video games and by no means misplaced,” the 28-year-old Roberts mentioned of his mustache. “So, I hope that continues within the Championship and perhaps it offers us a little bit of luck on Tuesday.

“It is the facility of the ‘tache, is not it?”

It was put to Web page that Roberts’ spouse, Georgina, is an enormous fan of the facial hair.

“That is extra vital is not it? Everyone knows about that, absolutely. Holding them comfortable,” Web page mentioned, laughing. “He’ll be holding it.”

Whereas Wales now not have their long-time talisman in Gareth Bale, who retired in January final 12 months after the World Cup in Qatar, Poland nonetheless have their famous person participant in Lewandowski.

The 35-year-old Barcelona striker has scored 82 objectives for Poland and solely three European gamers — Romelu Lukaku, Ferenc Puskas and Cristiano Ronaldo — have extra.

If Poland go on to qualify, it might be Lewandowski’s remaining worldwide match.

“He’s a unbelievable participant, completely,” Web page mentioned. “We’ll should respect that, after all. But it surely stops there. It goes out the window.

“We now have carried out some evaluation on him, we’ll present our defenders his strengths and weaknesses, what he’s able to doing — although we already realize it.”

Wales captain Ben Davies praised Lewandowski, saying he has “seen all of it and scored all sorts of objectives.”

“He’s a kind of strikers, you give him any sniff of an opportunity and it could possibly flip right into a objective,” Davies mentioned. “We now have to be actually dialed in to cease him.”

Wales are on a seven-match unbeaten streak since a sticky spell in June, when the crew misplaced back-to-back qualifiers — to Turkey and Armenia — that prompt they’d wrestle with out Bale.

Bale, Wales’ all-time main scorer with 41 objectives, scored all three of the nation’s objectives as they beat Austria then Ukraine within the playoffs in 2022 to achieve a primary World Cup since 1958.

For the Welsh, it is now extra of a crew effort.

“It reveals how far we have are available a brief house of time,” Web page mentioned. “We’re just one match previous Gareth’s retirement and we’re one win away from qualifying.

“We’re a rustic the place, if we will be there or thereabouts on the finish of the marketing campaign to qualify whereas we’re nonetheless on this transition of introducing younger gamers with out a number of the world-class senior gamers we have had, we’re in a superb place.”

Data from The Related Press was used on this story.