Robert Lewandowski has genuine designs on eclipsing Gerd Müller's 40-goal haul of 1971/72. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
Robert Lewandowski has genuine designs on eclipsing Gerd Müller's 40-goal haul of 1971/72. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
bundesliga

Can Robert Lewandowski break Gerd Müller's 40-goal Bundesliga record?

It’s some 47 years since Gerd Müller plundered a Bundesliga record 40 single-season goals for Bayern Munich, but Robert Lewandowski is on course to rewrite the history books.

As well as rattling the onion bag, it’s what LewanGOALski does best…

Just eight games into the 2019/20 campaign, the Bundesliga's record non-German marksman has already netted a club- and league-leading 12 goals, tying former Borussia Dortmund teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s eight-match scoring run to start a season.

Ominously, Lewandowski's goal against Augsburg means he has now tallied 19 goals in 14 career meetings with Bayern’s Bavarian neighbours, including three braces and one hat-trick in his last five - but that’s a story for another day.

Lewandowski’s previous best-mark after eight matchdays was also 12, albeit with five of those efforts falling in one nine-minute swoop in a 5-1 win against Wolfsburg in 2015/16. The imperious Bayern front man ended that particular campaign - his second at the club - on 30 goals, claiming his second top scorer’s prize in the process.

He wasn’t able to defend his crown in 2016/17, despite producing a second successive 30-goal campaign, but has retained the cannon in the past two seasons courtesy of impressive 22- and 29-goal tallies.

The last player to win back-to-back Torjägerkanonen was Bayer Leverkusen’s Ulf Kirsten. Only the legendary Müller has claimed three in a row (and seven overall) - an historic run which began with a fabled 40-goal return in 1971/72.

Müller scored all 365 of his Bundesliga goals in a Bayern shirt between 1964 and 1979. - imago/WEREK

However, unlike Lewandowski - who has kicked off 2019/20 with a pair of braces, a hat-trick and strikes against Mainz, RB Leipzig, Paderborn, Hoffenheim and Augsburg - Müller had just the three goals to show for the first seven matches of the 1971/72 season. Thirty-six of his final 40 fell after Matchday 10, and included four hat-tricks, as well as one four- and five-goal haul. He also missed three penalties in the first half of 1971/72 alone; as many as Lewandowski has fluffed in his entire Bundesliga career.

Unsurprisingly, no one has come close to matching Müller's 40-goal total with such alarming regularity as Legendowski. Bayern's current leading man has hit double figures in seven of his eight full seasons of Bundesliga football to date - the exception being his debut campaign at Dortmund. He has posted 20 in five and 30 in his other two.

If Lewandowski continues to fire at his current clip of 1.5 goals per Bundesliga game, he will end the 2019/20 season on 51 goals. Not that the man himself is thinking of eclipsing Müller... yet.

"It's too early," Lewandowski said after becoming the first player in Bundesliga history to reach double figures after six matches with his strike in Bayern's 3-2 win at Paderborn. "It's great to be scoring, and I hope I can keep it up. Then we'll see."

Watch: Each of Lewandowski's first 200 Bundesliga goals

Lewandowski struck again on Matchday 7, in a surprise 2-1 home defeat to Hoffenheim. He is now fourth in Bundesliga's all-time scoring charts, one ahead of Manfred Burgsmüller on 214 Bundesliga goals. Only three players - Jupp Heynckes (220), Klaus Fischer (268) and Müller (365) - have scored more. Only one - Müller - has a better minutes-per-goal ratio: 105 compared to Lewy's 110.

Assuming 31-year-old Lewandowski stays fit - almost a given seeing how he's never missed more than four league games in a single Bundesliga season - the Peter Pan of football can expect to close the gap in more ways than one as the 2019/20 season rolls on.

And while Müller’s Bundesliga-record total of 365 goals in 427 games looks safe for now, his single-season best is under serious threat.