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Robert Lewandowski discusses work ethic, criticism, and Bayern Munich’s upcoming match vs Dortmund

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Being one of the world’s best strikers leaves Lewy open to harsh criticism. But he’s learned not to let it stop him.

Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

There’s no doubting the fact that Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world. He’s established himself as one of the most prolific goal-scorers in soccer, but he also has had to deal with criticism throughout his career. It comes with the territory. In a recent interview with DW, the Polish ace talked about how he’s learned to deal with such immense pressure and how he does not let all of the criticism get the better of him.

Humility and a relentless work ethic, Lewandowski argued, are the first steps to becoming a better player. Seeing yourself as the best, he argues, is counter-productive:

If you think you are the best in world, you are finished. You have to constantly strive to be better. When I look at football now and 20 or 30 years ago, it has grown. Football is not only about the ball; it is also what you do in training, in the gym, because people want more all the time.

His goal-scoring records for both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich speak for themselves, but many of Lewandowski’s harshest critics pounce on any opportunity to point out his shortcomings. He’s often been labelled as a striker who fails to score in the big, important matches, especially in the Champions League with Bayern. He failed to register a goal in either of the four legs in the quarter-finals and semi-finals last season against Sevilla and Real Madrid, respectively. Lewandowski argues his critics need to see the big picture:

Everything is about last season. Because last season I didn’t score in the quarterfinal and the semifinal because of my injury – because I was playing through pain for eight months. But when you see the season before and the five seasons before that, I scored a minimum of one goal in every quarterfinal and semifinal. This is the difference. People sometimes see what happened yesterday not what has happened in the long run.

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 25: Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Muenchen reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena on April 25, 2018 in Munich, Germany. Photo by Lukasz Laskowski/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

Having to deal with so many disparagers throughout his career has helped Lewandowski grow a very thick skin:

I have experienced this over so many years and have grown a thicker skin, and it gets thicker and thicker. I have learned how to deal and live with it... Sometimes it hurts but you have to handle it.

The Champions League knockout stages might not have been kind to Lewandowski lately, but he’s no stranger to scoring goals in der Klassiker. On Saturday, he hopes he will nab his 200th Bundesliga goal. The massive clash against Dortmund has massive title implications, but Lewandowski doesn’t feel that it will decide who wins the Bundesliga this season:

I am not sure the winner will become champions. I don’t think so. Okay, the winner will take a big step, but one step will not be enough. We still have a lot of games until the end of the season and I think the winner will have to take two steps

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
DORTMUND, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 10: Robert Lewandowski of FC Bayern Muenchen celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Signal Iduna Park on November 10, 2018 in Dortmund, Germany.
Lewy found the back of the net the last time Bayern faced Dortmund. Can he do it again?
(Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)