Robert Lewandowski has been the world’s best footballer for some time now. After a stellar 2019/20 season that saw him finish as the top-scorer in the Bundesliga, the DFB Pokal and the Champions League, he was awarded the European footballer of the season by UEFA, and would’ve also been everyone’s pick for the Ballon d’Or, had the award not been cancelled.
This season, Bayern’s superhuman hitman has continued his rich vein of form, having already bagged seven goals in four Bundesliga games, the most recent of which was a superb performance against Arminia Bielefeld that saw him score a brace and register an assist. His goal-scoring prowess aside, this was one of Lewandowski’s most complete performances.
He was involved everywhere: scoring goals, feeding balls to his teammates with good timing and precision, assisting Thomas Müller beautifully (should’ve had at least another assist), helping in the build-up, providing passing lanes, laying the ball off for his teammates to carry, working his socks off to pressurize the opponents in the final third, you name it. Lewandowski has been there, done that.
Without further ado, I present to you, the ‘Lewandowski Show.’ Enjoy the magic!
We start off with the move to the first goal. Since the live goal sequence was too quick for us to be able to appreciate this work of art, I have used the goal recap reel instead. This move has three parts to it, all of which scream “Lewandowski masterclass.” Niklas Süle ventures into the opposition’s half, looking for passing options. Lewandowski senses an opportunity, rushes forward, dragging opposition CBs with him, giving Müller a lot of space to do his Raumdeutering.
Süle spots Lewandowski’s run and feeds him a nice through ball. Lewandowski, who has already seen Müller lurking behind Arminia’s unsuspecting midfielders, creates an algorithm for the ‘perfect pass’ in his head and executes it with great timing and precision. The resulting first-timed layoff is scooped up by Müller who charges forward, scoring the first goal off a rebound, after a blocked initial attempt.
What is astounding, is that the entire move, from Süle’s ball to Müller scoring, lasted for 4.5 seconds. And that Lewa move?? It was done in less than two seconds. High IQ football, efficiently executed.
Many believe that Lewandowski is more effective when he’s paired with Müller, but the reverse is also true, and even more so. Müller’s exploitation of space is largely possible due to the attention Lewandowski warrants from opposition defenses. Lewandowski and Müller also have a telepathic understanding of each other, which makes this duo even deadlier.
Here, Lewandowski spots Hernandez’s run, frees himself from his man and makes himself available, and then, without turning back once, sends an accurate glancing header to the back, which falls perfectly for Müller. Unfortunately, Stefan Ortega’s superb reaction save prevents Müller from scoring another.
This goal exemplifies Lewandowski’s superb long range shooting ability. Leon Goretzka scoops up the ball in the left flank before finding Lewandowski, who is surrounded by defenders. But, that doesn’t matter, not to the world’s best striker. He controls the ball with a beautiful first touch, and sends a rocket of a shot into the back of the net from outside the box. Ortega stood absolutely no chance here.
Lewandowski’s skill and nose for goal makes it irrelevant whether he’s being marked or not. If access to goal is completely blocked, he will find a teammate. This is why defending against him is a nightmare.
This goal is a work of absolute genius, and teaches us two things. One, you cannot afford Lewandowski space and time with the ball; he will find the back of the net — there’s no stopping that. Second, the linkup play he has with Müller is crucial to the game-plan.
A great run through the middle by Müller sees him marked by two center-backs. He dummies his man, and finds Lewandowski in a small pocket of space. The latter does two things, both very important to this goal: a trademark first touch that sets him up perfectly and distances the ball from the defenders, and a superb finish through the legs of Mike van der Hoorn.
Here is a better angle, to give you a better understanding of just how well taken that goal was. Lewandowski’s two-touch goal technique looks more refined than ever, and means that the Polish Hitman needs only a second or two to execute his plan.
Lewandowski’s constant pressing in the final third, combined with his active movements forces defenders and goalkeepers into making errant passes, that can be exploited by the Bayern Munich attack.
Here, Lewandowski’s applies pressure and cuts down passing options, forcing the CB to pass the ball to the goalkeeper, who in a hurry then sends a first time effort invitingly into the path of Serge Gnabry. Notice Lewandowski’s movement and change in pace as soon as Gnabry receives the ball. He makes himself available for a pass, controls it beautifully and dinks it over the keeper, only to be denied by the post.
This is why players like Lewandowski shouldn’t be judged solely by their direct goal contributions. His role in the press, build-up and ball progression should also be recognized and appreciated.
Welcome back to the Müllendowski show. This time, we’ll be looking at Bayern’s fourth goal, and this is Lewandowski at his very best. After receiving the ball on the right flank (he’s a striker, winger, everything), Lewandowski lays the ball forward, and takes three seconds before sending in an absolute peach of a cross into the path of an onrushing Müller, who smashes the ball into the net from close range.
Once again, to give you a better understanding, here’s a different angle. Lewandowski takes a quick glance to locate Müller, then takes two steps to get power and precision on his shot and curls the ball deliciously for Müller to gobble up. A very well calculated and converted goal.
In short: do not give Lewandowski space or time. And good luck with that.
Hold up play and layoffs
Lewandowski is also arguably the best in the world with his back towards goal. His reading of the game and quick thinking enable him to take very little time on the ball and create an opportunity for his teammates.
In this sequence, Corentin Tolisso passes the ball to Lewandowski, who instantly lays it off for him to collect. One touch passing has become one of Lewandowski’s biggest strengths, simply because of how unpredictable and efficient it makes him.
Lewandowski’s performance against Arminia was impeccable. This was one of those games that helped showcase all of his major strengths. He hardly put a foot wrong, except for being a little unlucky; he could’ve had two more goals that game.
Over the years, he’s refined his technique and his reading of the game, and his telepathic connection with Müller is a major reason why Bayern’s attack is widely considered the best in the world. This man is playing the best football of his life, and it sure seems like he’s all set to retain the “world’s best footballer” title for another year.
To sum it up, Lewandowski + a football = something bad for your team, unless you’re Bayern Munich.