Soccer-Lewandowksi absence gives Dutch planning headache

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - LaLiga - Girona v FC Barcelona - Estadi Montilivi, Girona, Spain - May 4, 2024 FC Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - The Netherlands have been forced into a rethink ahead of Sunday’s opening Euro 2024 Group D match against Poland with Robert Lewandowski out of the opposing attack, but coach Ronald Koeman still expects the Poles to start with two strikers.

Lewandowski has been ruled out of the match, but will take his place on the Polish bench.

"Each individual player has his qualities, and it may change our approach somewhat. We know Lewandowski and his strengths,” the Dutch coach told a press conference on Saturday.

Koeman expressed doubts about the injury reports this week, suggesting it might be a bluff, but was strongly rebuked by his Polish counterpart.

"I still expect them to play with two strikers and we have been analysing all their strikers. We know their attackers and what they can bring," Koeman said.

"It is always important to start well in the first game and win and if you can do it in the way you set out to do, then that’s even better. It’s very important that we get a good result."

The Dutch meet France in their second group game on Friday in Leipzig before facing Austria.

"You have really strong nations at this tournament, and I think we are one of them. But we are not a big favourite," Koeman said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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