Arkadiusz Milik is the Poland striker Northern Ireland should be worried about

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When Northern Ireland line-up against Poland in their Euro 2016 curtain-raiser, Michael O'Neill's side will be facing arguably not one but two of Europe's most impressive strikers.

Much has already been made of Robert Lewandowski's achievements this season.

The 27-year-old made history with Bayern Munich this season after becoming the first striker, since Dietar Muller back in 1977, to score 30 league goals in a single Bundesliga season - but that is only the half of it.

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Bundesliga top scorer for the second time in three seasons, with a further nine goals to his name in the Champions League, Lewandowski also equalled David Healy's record, set with Northern Ireland back in 2008, after scoring 13 goals in qualifying for Euro 2016.

Yet, if O'Neill and his Northern Irish charges think that shackling Lewandowski alone will be enough to stop the goals flowing for Poland then they could be in for a shock.

Because, in Poland strike partner Arkadiusz Milik, Northern Ireland are facing a goalscorer who is not only the perfect foil to the Bayern Munich man but is also heading to France in fantastic form for club and country.

On song for Ajax

Still only 22, there was a time when The Chronicle was linking Newcastle United with a move for Milik after he impressed scouts watching at Ajax.

Such gossip ultimately came to nothing and while the Magpies have floundered in front of goal, the Pole has pushed on with the Amsterdam giants.

Intelligent with the ball at his feet but equally adept in the air, Milik bagged 24 goals in 42 games for Ajax last term, bringing his total for the Eredivisie side to 47 in just 75 games both domestically and in European competition.

Yet for all his endeavours at club level, it is his achievements for Poland that have gone largely unnoticed, thanks in no small part to the impressive scoring feats of Lewandowski.

Crucial for Poland

A return of six goals – including the second in Poland's first-ever victory over Germany – is a fine return for any striker but in racking up six assists on top of those goals Milik has further proved his worth to the national side.

That tally of six assists was the joint-highest of any player in the qualification phase of Euro 2016 and with four of those ending in goals for Lewandowski, it's easy to see the important outlet Milik offers not only in providing goals but acting as the ideal foil to the Bayern Munich man.

Not solely an out-and-out striker, Milik can play that role or, alternatively, drop deeper, from where he can deliver killer passes and even strikes from distance - as this fine example demonstrates.

O'Neill on guard

It makes him arguably the more all-round attacking option for Poland and a major threat to a Northern Ireland side that had it relatively easy compared to Milik & Co. in qualifying.

Six goals and six assists is no mean feat for a striker lining up against the likes of Germany, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and a Georgia side that recently embarrassed Spain. 

And after ending the Eredivisie season with 10 goals in his last eight games for Ajax, O'Neill's team should be very worried – and then there's still the small matter of Lewandowski...

Will Northern Ireland be able to cope with the twin threats of Milik and Lewandowski? Let us know what you think in the comment box below

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Newcastle United
Euro 2016
Robert Lewandowski
Germany Football
Bayern Munich
Premier League
Manuel Neuer

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