bundesliga

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

Robert Lewandowski is in pole position to finish 2020/21 with a record fourth successive Bundesliga top scorer’s cannon, but has a genuine long-term contender to his crown in Erling Haaland.

Ahead of Borussia Dortmund's trip to Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker, bundesliga.com weighs up the numbers behind the two finest No.9s in the land…

Goalscoring

With a record 28 goals to show for his first 22 appearances of the new Bundesliga campaign - he was rested on Matchday 6 - Lewandowski is once again the man to beat at the top of the scoring charts.

The Bayern striker has scored 16 times across his last 13 outings alone, netted more than once on seven occasions, and only failed to score in four.

Watch: All 28 of Robert Lewandowski's Bundesliga goals in 2020/21

Those rare off days aside, LewanGOALski is currently averaging a league goal every 67 minutes at a rate of 1.35 per game. He has reached double figures for the 10th successive season, and is the first player in history to have done so after just five rounds of fixtures.

Breaking the 30-goal barrier - as he has in three of his six full campaigns at Bayern - is a formality. Gerd Müller’s 40-strike gold standard is within reach.

With 11 rounds of fixtures remaining, Haaland could conceivably achieve the first of those feats, despite being 20 and playing in his maiden full season of Bundesliga football.

The Norwegian has scored 17 goals in 18 Bundesliga appearances in 2020/21, having set the tone with 13 in 15 top-flight outings during the previous Rückrunde following his December 2019 transfer from Red Bull Salzburg.

Watch: All 17 of Erling Haaland's Bundesliga goals in 2020/21

He 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.

Lewandowski was three years older than Haaland when he scored his first Bundesliga multiples, and it wasn’t until his 10th Bundesliga campaign, aged 31, that he broke Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s record for most single-season goals by a non-German national with 34 last term.

Twelve years Lewandowski’s junior, it’s another best-mark Haaland may well eclipse sooner rather than later.

Efficiency

Haaland is ahead of the curve, after all, producing 30 goals in 33 Bundesliga outings to date.

Lewandowski had five goals to show for his first 20 German top-flight assignments, and needed another 47 to reach 30, while his 264 total league strikes - a record for a foreign-born player - are the product of 1321 efforts on goal.

Although Haaland boasts the superior hit rate since arriving at BVB - 30 goals from 90 shots - Lewandowski has been the more clinical of the two over halfway through the 2020/21 season.

Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland (l-r.) are set to face off for the fourth time when Bayern Munich take on Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 24. - imago images

The Poland striker is scoring a goal every 3.25 shots and converting 73.7 percent of his clear-cut chances. Haaland requires roughly 3.52 attempts per goal and sinks 57.9 percent of his major opportunities.

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

Range/ styles

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 13.

Lewandowski has put away four headers to Haaland’s one, despite being four inches shorter.

What the Bayern man lacks in height, he makes up for in positioning and execution. With 20 of his 23 league goals from open play in 2020/21 coming from the central third of the opponent’s 18-yard area, he is the definition of 'fox in the box'.

Watch: How Robert Lewandowski scores his goals

Haaland, by contrast, is more raging bull.

Aggressive runs from deep at speed - 21.87 mph at its peak - are a Haaland hallmark. Against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 1 alone, he sprinted 86 metres to finish Jadon Sancho’s lay-off from his preferred shooting zone - the left-hand third of the opposition penalty area.

Haaland has scored five times from such a position, and thrice on the counter.

But if the Dortmund frontman plays to his strengths, it wouldn’t be wide of the mark to say Lewandowski has no weaknesses.

Creativity/ team work

As well as scoring more goals, Lewandowski is hitting the money with more attempted passes, averaging more touches, winning more aerial challenges and has produced more assists than his Dortmund counterpart.

He has a one-track mind fixed on scoring goals, whether taking or making the chances himself.

Haaland operates on the same wavelength, 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.

Embellishing the Norway international's four assists - among them three very presentable one-on-one situations in which he opted for a simple square pass - his averages for attempted challenges at ground level, distance covered and sprints per 90 minutes are all marginally superior to Lewandowski's.

The verdict

Small-scale sample size or not, Lewandowski has a serious rival on all counts.

The Bayern goal-getter has long been the yardstick against which untold forwards are measured and consistently found wanting. Let’s not forget he's the only man ever to win a league, cup and Champions League treble whilst top scoring in each competition - to the tune of 55 goals in 47 games at that.

Yet Haaland is bucking the trend.

His performances in a black-and-yellow shirt have led former Italy international Christian Vieri - a former Inter Milan teammate of Brazil legend Ronaldo - to herald the Dortmund hit machine as "the best striker in the world".

Premature perhaps when measured against the goal-scoring prowess of Lewandowski - but a glimpse into the future all the same.

For the time being at least, Haaland can rightly be considered the most complete player of his type under the age of 25.

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

Chris Mayer-Lodge