bundesliga

Robert Lewandowski vs. Erling Haaland: Who has the edge when Bayern Munich host Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker?

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Robert Lewandowski leads the way once again in the Bundesliga scoring stakes in 2021/22, but the Bayern Munich forward has a genuine long-term contender to his crown in Borussia Dortmund counterpart Erling Haaland.

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Ahead of Bayern's meeting with Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Matchday 31, bundesliga.com weighs up the numbers behind the two finest No.9s in the land…

Goalscoring

With 32 goals on the board after 31 matches, Lewandowski is honing in on a fifth successive top scorer's cannon and seventh overall. No player has claimed more outright.

The Bayern frontman has 47 goals in all competitions, only failing to score in 13 of his 42 appearances. On the Bundesliga front, that equates to a goal every 81 minutes, at a rate of 1.03 per game.

Watch: The evolution of Robert Lewandowski

Haaland is third in the scoring charts on 18 goals in 20 appearances, despite missing 10 league fixtures through injury. A maiden 30-goal Bundesliga season will have to wait, but is well within the 21-year-old's capablities.

Let's not forget, Haaland ranks as the first player in Bundesliga history to stick away a debut hat-trick from the bench; reach five goals after two matches; seven after three and nine after five; and the youngest and fastest to 50, doing so in as many games.

Watch: The Erling Haaland story

Lewandowski was three years older than Haaland when he scored his first Bundesliga multiples, and only scored 20 goals in his first 50 Bundesliga games. The late, great Gerd Müller managed 33 by the same juncture.

And while LewanGOALski reset the bar for single-season goals, with 41 in 2021/22, it’s another best-mark Haaland - 12 years the Bayern predator's junior - may well eclipse sooner rather than later.

Efficiency

Haaland boasts the superior hit rate since arriving at BVB, after all. He finds the net every 87.6 minutes on average, itself a record among all Bundesliga players ever to have scored 25 goals or more. Not only that, but he only needs 4.0 shots for every goal scored.

Watch: Haaland's first 50 Bundesliga goals

Not even Lewandowski can match that. The Poland striker is scoring a goal every 4.3 shots and has missed a league-high 29 chances of the 'clear-cut' variety to Haaland's four.

As for Expected Goals (xG), Lewandowski is 4.57 percent up on a projection of 30.6. Haaland's differential climbs to 22.13 percent, from 13.1 to 16.

It’s by a nose, but the Haaland has the edge.

Range/ styles/ teamwork

If end product is similarly emphatic, method of dispatch could not be further apart.

For starters, Lewandowski is naturally right-footed; Haaland is a rocket-propelled lefty. The former has scored 15 times this season with his preferred foot; the latter nine.

Lewandowski has five headers (Haaland three), while 25 of his 27 Bundesliga goals from open play in 2021/22 have fallen inside the opponent’s 18-yard area, including 23 in the central third. A master of positioning and execution, he is the very definition of 'fox in the box'.

Watch: How Lewandowski scores his goals

Haaland, by contrast, is more raging bull.

Aggressive runs from deep at speed - 22.31 mph at its peak this term - are a Haaland hallmark. The 2020 Golden Boy has struck just once from outside the box this season, underlining his penalty-area prowess, while he has won 58 per cent of all his duels compared to 48 per cent for Lewandowski.

Haaland is also in front for touches (37 to 32 per game), sprints (28 to 18) and assists (seven to two). He has a one-track mind fixed on producing goals, floating seamlessly between the predatory and selfless - just as the modern man can hammer up drywall one minute and paint his partner’s nails the next.

The verdict

However, if Haaland plays to his strengths, it wouldn't be wide of the mark to say Lewandowski has no weaknesses.

Bayern's indestructible Captain Scarlet has sat out just 20 Bundesliga matches since debuting for Dortmund in 2010/11, and never more than five in a single campaign. In his first two full seasons of Bundesliga football, Haaland has already missed 15.

Lewandowski's mind, body and feet have taken him to the pinnacle of the game. Approaching 34, he remains the yardstick against which untold forwards are measured and consistently found wanting - though Haaland could be the man to buck the trend.

For a true striker’s masterclass, look no further than Der Klassiker.

Chris Mayer-Lodge