Robert Lewandowski’s wait for a World Cup goal goes on. His penalty miss in this match was his 11th shot without success in World Cup finals, despite tallying an xG total of 2.2 over the 2018 and 2022 editions.
The unsuccessful 58th minute penalty attempt – which was given following a foul on him – was his only shot on target in this game. Much of this was due to less-than-ideal service to the Barcelona forward – he received just 32 passes in the game and 44% of those came in the air via goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (14).
Since the 2018 World Cup, Lewandowski has averaged 8.1 touches in the opposition box per 90 in competitive club matches across spells at Bayern Munich and Barcelona, with 20.4% of his total touches coming inside the box. In national team games with Poland at tournament finals (World Cup and Euros) over that time, those averages are 4.7 per 90 and 10.7%.
Now, we know Barcelona and Bayern Munich are two of the world’s best club sides and Poland aren’t ranking as high in the national team equivalent rankings (26th in the current FIFA rankings), so you’d expect the numbers to drop off from club to country. However, it’ll remain a shame that one of the world’s best strikers over the last decade hasn’t been able to show his full ability in tournament football on the international stage.
Lewandowski was foiled by arguably the best performing goalkeeper across the last three editions of the World Cup: Guillermo Ochoa.
Since the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the Mexican goalkeeper has prevented 5.4 goals from being scored based on Opta’s expected goals on target data (xGOT) – that’s more than any other goalkeeper. Many will remember his ridiculous performance against the host nation in 2014, where he made six saves with a goals prevented total of 1.7 in the 0-0 group-stage draw in Fortaleza.
Ochoa’s save meant that Poland became the first nation to miss three consecutive penalties (excluding shootouts) in recorded history at the World Cup, with Lewandowski’s spot-kick following unsuccessful attempts by Kazimierz Deyna (vs. Argentina in 1978) and Maciej Zurawski (vs. USA in 2002).
A nil-nil draw isn’t the end of the world for either team, however. Following Argentina’s shock defeat to Saudi Arabia earlier today, this was a game that neither team wanted to lose. Both Mexico and Poland will still be confident of defeating the Saudis despite their feats earlier today, while they’ll be buoyed by Argentina’s obvious defensive fragility.
Our latest predictor numbers give Poland 49.24% chance of making the last 16 and Mexico 43.60%. It really is game on in Group C.