Robert Lewandowski

Irwin: Lewandowski is a threat

Tuesday 14 February 2023 08:50

Manchester United legend Denis Irwin believes our defenders will need to be "on their toes" when the Reds face Barcelona on Thursday, due to the threat of striker Robert Lewandowski.

The Poland international has continued his prolific goalscoring form at the Catalan club since his summer move, in Thursday's Europa League clash at the Camp Nou he will no doubt be looking to add to his tally.

As a former defender, Irwin, who played at the iconic stadium on three occasions during his playing days, is a great source of advice on how to deal with such an attacking threat.

Ahead of the highly anticipated match, he offered an insight into what the United defenders will be thinking before coming up against Lewandowski.

FC Barcelona are currently top of the La Liga table.

“There’s no doubt that the centre-halves, whoever plays, are well aware of his capabilities,” Irwin told club media. 

“He’s had a fantastic career. He was brilliant at Bayern Munich and it took him a long time to get the plaudits that he deserved.”

In 703 domestic career appearances, Lewandowski has netted 532 times, with 344 of those coming in just 375 games for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. 

Now working with Xavi at Barcelona, the Polish striker has already scored 23 times in 27 appearances, as the Catalans lead the way at the top of the La Liga table. 

“He’s doing it again at Barcelona and playing very well," Irwin added. "He’s got great experience - he’s one of those players that it doesn't matter what age, he will always score goals. 

“Our defenders, particularly the two centre-halves, will have to be on their toes. 

“But Barcelona as a whole are a great attacking team, they score plenty of goals. Whoever plays in that defence will have to play as a unit and make sure that we don’t concede too many chances.” 

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Denis believes a win in our Europa League play-off against Barcelona will send a "huge message" to our competitors, and would be a key accolade to illustrate the progress the Reds have made under manager Erik ten Hag.

“You’re coming up against one of the big boys who are doing very well in the local league, La Liga," he added. "[A win] sends a huge message to our fans and to everybody out there because we’ve had a couple of difficult seasons. 

“There’s been huge progress this season and that would rubber stamp the direction we are going in. I think for the confidence of the playing staff, the manager, the fans, it will be a huge plus for us, it really would.”