Mancini praises Lewandowski as one of world's best and defends Immobile's Italy record
Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world and any team would struggle against a player of his quality, says Italy boss Roberto Mancini. The Azzurri will go head-to-head against Lewandowski on Sunday when the two nations meet in Nations League Group A1.
Lewandowski scored 55 goals across all competitions in 2019-20 to fire Bayern Munich to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League treble, and many pundits feel he would have won the Ballon d'Or this year had the award not been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He has continued his exquisite form in the early stages of this campaign, scoring five goals in three league matches for champions Bayern.
Mancini talked up the talents of Lewandowski in a pre-match news conference but backed his side to keep him quiet in Gdansk.
"Lewandowski is one of the best centre-forwards in the world and he has been for several years. It's a pity we never got to see him playing in Serie A," Mancini said. "He's fundamental for Poland, although they also have other great players too. It's fair to say any team would struggle against the likes of Lewandowski. "But Italy have always had some of the best defenders in the world and that remains true today. Of course, we can improve a great deal too."
Ciro Immobile was also one of European football's hottest properties last term and finished as Serie A's top goalscorer with 36 goals in 37 top-flight matches. The Lazio striker has struggled to match that domestic form on the international scene and has scored just three times in the Mancini era, two of those in a 9-1 battering of minnows Armenia.
Mancini explained it is harder to get into a rhythm in international football when defending Immobile's record.
"It might also be because the two teams play in very different ways," Mancini added. "Ciro has always done well when playing with us. If we had 38 games in a row together, he'd score 25 goals, but it's tougher when you only get together every now and then."