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Does Robert Lewandowski play better with or without Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben?

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The stats say he's really good.

Lennart Preiss/Getty Images

On the April 22, 2015 episode of Soccer Morning, former United States international and current ESPN and Fox Sports commentator Janusz Michallik was on the show to discuss the Champions League the day after Bayern Munich ran roughshod over FC Porto to advance to the semifinals of the competition.

As the conversation turned to FC Bayern, Janusz spoke about the absences of Robben and Ribery and how it affected Robert Lewandowski against Porto.

You know, the funny part is you can say there's no Ribery and no Robben in those wide positions, right? But, I wonder, and by the way when I say this I only mean for certain games, I almost think that this was a blessing for Bayern Munich. Because, if you look at Robert Lewandowski, he's been tremendous, but the times that he is not good is because probably Robben and Ribery hold onto the ball a little too long, right? If you watch Robert Lewandowski put the ball in front of goal, and he will score. And, he can score every which way. So, what I think you saw there is the wide game for Bayern Munich was just a little bit simpler.

...

So, in a funny way, the two key players for Bayern Munich that everybody was crying about and worried about may actually have been a good thing that they weren't there.

My interest was piqued! Now, before anyone flies into a rage-blinding rant, you should know that I was prepared to agree completely with Janusz before doing any research into the matter. I'm 100% sure that Bayern play quite well against other opponents without Robben and Ribery in the team, because players like Mario Götze and Thomas Müller are pretty good, too.

With Ribery, Robben With Ribery, No Robben With Robben, No Ribery With Neither
Number of Games 16 5 9 11
Lewandowski Goals 10 1 3 8
Lewandowski Minutes 1191 432 710 895

These figures do not take into account the actual minutes that Lewandowski played with Robbery during the games. The minutes shown are the total minutes that Lewandowski played in those matches.

What does the chart tell us? It tells us that Robert Lewandowski scores goals whether Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are on the field or not. Why? Robert Lewandowski is one of the top forwards in world football, but this is not a surprise to you.

There has been talk this year that Lewandowski has "struggled" in his first year at Bayern. However, that really couldn't be further from the truth. While adjusting to Pep Guardiola's system at FC Bayern, Lewandowski only needs three more goals to break the 25 goal mark in all competitions, and there's a possibility that he could have another 10 games to accomplish that feat. This is not struggling.

Not to dismiss Janusz's point completely, Lewandowski does score at a faster rate when Robben and Ribery are not in the lineup. However, it's clear that Lewandowski scores at a near equal rate with the two wingers in the side.

Unfortunately, all this did was make me sad that the trio of Lewandowski, Ribery, and Robben have only featured in sixteen matches this season.