Robert Lewandowski has scored 35 times across the first 26 Matchdays of 2020/21. With so much of the current campaign left to play, will the Bayern Munich striker break Gerd Müller’s 40-goal record?
Müller’s 1971/72 feat appeared untouchable until Lewandowski came along, and the Poland captain has been edging closer and closer to his Bayern predecessor in recent years.
A sensational run of scoring in each of the campaign’s first 11 matches set Lewandowski on his path last term, but he eventually fell six short of Müller’s now 49-year-old record.
Lewandowski was nigh-on unstoppable as he helped sweep Bayern to a record-breaking treble, and were it not for injury and suspension depriving him of three Bundesliga appearances, the 32-year-old may well have hit the same heights as Müller last year.
The Pole acknowledged that himself at the end of last season, saying: “I missed three games. Who knows what I could have achieved if I didn’t?” He also, however, called it “impossible” to top Müller’s efforts, such is the quality of opposition and workload of the modern game, but as coach Hansi Flick summarised: “If someone can do it, it’s him.”
In all competitions, Lewandowski’s 55 goals from 47 appearances in 2019/20 actually outstripped Müller’s 50 from 48 games five decades ago, and in 2020/21 he’s once again motoring at a frightening pace when you hold his strikes up against that remarkable 40-goal effort of Der Bomber.
It led him to pick up both the UEFA and FIFA Player of the Year awards and secure a fifth Torjägerkanone trophy, which was his third in succession – a treble of Bundesliga top-scorer cannons that only Müller had managed previously.
Lewandowski’s 35 goals after 26 Bundesliga matchdays eclipse the 26 he’d managed at the same stage last term, and he has reached that remarkable tally despite being rested for one game – a 2-1 win in Cologne at the end of October. He also started on the bench in the shock 4-1 loss at Hoffenheim in late September, only coming on for the final half-hour.
His red-hot form leaves Bayern’s master marksman in need of just five goals from eight games to match Müller. That equates to less than a goal a game (0.63) from now until the end of the season; Lewandowski’s current output is an eye-watering 1.35 per outing.
“He has a fantastic team around him. The team is the key to breaking a record like this from Gerd Müller,” said Bayern legend Lothar Matthäus recently. “So, this is my prognosis for 2021, Robert Lewandowski will break the record from Gerd Müller and score more than 40 goals in the Bundesliga.”
Müller’s 23-goal Rückrunde tipped the balance, as did his ability to score in bulk; an area Lewandowski is also measuring up in. The Pole has scored more than once on eight separate occasions so far in 2020/21, including four against Hertha Berlin on Matchday 3, a hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 5 and a sensational treble against Borussia Dortmund which almost single-handedly earned Bayern Der Klassiker victory.
The Matchday 26 meeting with VfB Stuttgart proved to be an unlucky one for Die Schwaben, as Lewandowski notched his 13th Bundesliga hat-trick – a perfect one, at that – despite Alphonso Davies’s dismissal in only the 12th minute.
Müller hit three more hat-tricks – including five in one game against Rot-Weiß Oberhausen – during the second half of 1971/72, but Lewandowski has also been on fire since the midway stage of the season.
A home meeting with second-bottom Mainz offered a fine first opportunity after the winter break for Lewandowski to score in multiples – one he grabbed, bagging a brace.
That Matchday 24 hat-trick against Dortmund, taking him to 20 goals in 14 league outings against his former club, has set Lewandowski up nicely, especially when you consider that Wolfsburg (Bayern’s Matchday 29 opponents) are his favourite opposition of the lot. He boasts a total of 23 goals in 20 games against the Wolves, including 19 in his last 11.
A brace in the 2-1 victory earlier this season took Lewandowski past 250 Bundesliga goals and made it six doubles against Wolfsburg, while his now legendary five-goal haul of September 2015 blew Müller’s aforementioned salvo against Oberhausen out of the water. It took his predecessor 44 minutes.
If Lewandowski can score a Guinness world record-breaking five goals in nine minutes, he can surely plunder at least five in the remaining 720. That’s one every 144 minutes, meaning he doesn’t even need a goal per game to match Müller.
Nobody has managed to topple Müller in almost half a century, but if anyone can, it’s surely LewanGOALski…