Robert Lewandowski is creeping closer to Gerd Müller's long-standing 40 Bundesliga goals record. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
Robert Lewandowski is creeping closer to Gerd Müller's long-standing 40 Bundesliga goals record. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
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Will Robert Lewandowski break Gerd Müller's 40-goal Bundesliga record?

Robert Lewandowski has scored 21 times across the first 16 matchdays of 2020/21 - more than any player has ever managed in the first half of a season. With so much of the current campaign left to play, will the Bayern Munich striker break Gerd Müller's 40-goal record?

Müller’s 1971/72 feat appeared untouchable until Lewandowski came along, and the Poland captain has been edging closer and closer to his Bayern predecessor in recent years.

A sensational run of scoring in each of the campaign’s first 11 matches set Lewandowski on his path last term, but he eventually fell six short of Müller’s now 48-year-old record.

Lewandowski was nigh-on unstoppable as he helped sweep Bayern to a record-breaking treble, and were it not for injury and suspension depriving him of three Bundesliga appearances, the 32-year-old may well have hit the same heights as Müller last year.

The Pole acknowledged that himself at the end of last season, saying: “I missed three games. Who knows what I could have achieved if I didn't?” He also, however, called it “impossible” to top Müller’s efforts, such is the quality of opposition and workload of the modern game, but as coach Hansi Flick summarised: “If someone can do it, it's him."

In all competitions, Lewandowski’s 55 goals from 47 appearances in 2019/20 actually outstripped Müller’s 50 from 48 games five decades ago, and in 2020/21 he’s once again motoring at a frightening pace when you hold his strikes up against that remarkable 40-goal effort of Der Bomber.

It led him to pick up both the UEFA and FIFA Player of the Year awards and secure a fifth Torjägerkanone trophy, which was his third in succession - a treble of Bundesliga top-scorer cannons that only Müller had managed previously.

His 21 goals after 16 Bundesliga matchdays betters the 19 he managed at the same stage last time out, and means Lewandowski has six more than Müller’s haul after 16 league games at the start of 1971/72.

Watch: A tactical look at how Lewy and Müller stack up

In fact, Lewandowski’s return thus far surpasses Müller’s across the entire 17 matches of his Hinrunde all those years ago, leaving Bayern’s current marksman in need of 20 goals from 18 games to match Müller.

That equates to 1.11 goals per game from now until the end of the season, and is a lower rate than Lewandowski’s current output of 1.4 goals a game.

Müller’s 23-goal Rückrunde tipped the balance, as did his ability to score in bulk; an area Lewandowski is also measuring up in. The Pole has scored more than once on six separate occasions so far in 2020/21, including four against Hertha Berlin on Matchday 3, and a hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 5.

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

Hee will need to sustain that form in the Rückrunde when you consider Müller hit four more hat-tricks - including five in one game against Rot-Weiß Oberhausen - during the second half of 1971/72.

A home meeting with second-bottom Mainz offered a fine first opportunity after the winter break for Lewandowski to score in multiples - one he grabbed, bagging a brace. Lone goals against Borussia Mönchengladbach and Freiburg have followed. Augsburg - a team Lewandowski has previously scored more than once against six times - are up next.

Watch: Lewandowski's first 251 Bundesliga goals

Kicking off the Rückrunde is then a trip to winless Schalke, against whom Lewandowski has found the back of the net in each of his previous 11 meetings.

Seventeen goals in 13 league outings against former club Borussia Dortmund bode just as well (the title rivals meet on Matchday 24), but Wolfsburg are his favourite opposition of the lot - a total of 23 goals in 20 games, of which 19 have fallen in his last 11.

A brace in the 2-1 victory earlier this season took Lewandowski past 250 Bundesliga goals and made it six doubles against the Wolves, while his five-goal haul of September blew Müller's aforementioned salvo against Oberhausen out of the water. It took his predecessor 44 minutes.

Watch: Lewandowski's historic five goals in nine minutes Wolfsburg will never be forgotten

If Lewandowski can score a Guinness world record-breaking five goals in nine minutes, he can plunder at least 20 in 1,620, or one every 81 minutes. If anyone can topple Müller, it's LewanGOALski...