There will be no 2020 Ballon d’Or due to the coronavirus pandemic, seemingly costing Robert Lewandowski his shot at the top prize.
While perennial contenders Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi each made relatively early Champions League exits last term, Lewandowski was the best player for the best team in Europe.
Bayern Munich won the treble, aided in no small part by an outstanding haul of 55 goals in all competitions from their number nine.
It was the best campaign of Lewandowski’s career, yet there appears no reason to believe he cannot hit similar heights in the season to come as we use Opta data to reflect on a stunning year.
LIKE RONALDO… BUT BETTER!
Lewandowski brings plenty to the table, but above all he is a goalscorer – as he proved in 2019-20. The 32-year-old’s 55 goals came from just 47 matches as he netted once every 75 minutes on average.
Rather than a feat of finishing, however, Lewandowski put on a movement masterclass, taking up goalscoring positions time and again. Of his 55 goals, 52 were scored from inside the area – including 33 of 34 in the Bundesliga, where he also dispatched each of his five penalties.
The Poland international only outperformed his expected goals value of 51.0 by four, yet the next highest xG in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues – Ronaldo’s – was way back at 35.8.
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) August 23, 2020
Lewandowski was expected to score 1.09 goals per game, comfortably the only star averaging more than one a match in this respect, with Kylian Mbappe next on 0.82 xG per game
Ronaldo prides himself on his goalscoring tally in much the same way but hit the net ‘just’ 37 times, also putting him behind Lazio’s Ciro Immobile (39), who was still a long way short of Lewandowski.
BEATING THE VERY BEST
Last term was actually the first season in Lewandowski’s career in which he scored more goals than both Ronaldo and Messi (31). He has topped Ronaldo in consecutive campaigns, too.
Lewandowski is only a year younger than Messi but scored just nine times in the 2010-11 season as the Barcelona forward was tallying 53, tied with Ronaldo. The Bayern star – then of Borussia Dortmund – scored 30 the next season to start to close the gap yet still had a long way to go to reach his current standards.
Given his age, it seems unlikely Lewandowski will be able to extend his peak years over such a spell as the big two have, but he should certainly back himself to dominate in the coming season.
Lewandowski has a better, more settled team than Ronaldo, meaning there is little reason to doubt he can edge out that particular rival again. Meanwhile, partly due to Lewandowski’s Bayern, Barca are in crisis, with Messi unhappy even as he sticks around for another season.
— Robert Lewandowski (@lewy_official) August 14, 2020
Other contenders will emerge, such as Mbappe, but the Paris Saint-Germain forward is already missing games in 2020-21 due to coronavirus and fluffed his lines against Lewandowski’s Bayern in last season’s Champions League final.
As Ronaldo and Messi enter the final stages of their careers and the next generation take time to hit the heights, Lewandowski looks primed to be the middle man as European football’s statistical phenomenon and, perhaps, the world’s best player.
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