Harry Kane has hit the ground running at Bayern Munich, filling the goalscoring boots of Robert Lewandowski a year on from the Pole's move to Barcelona. bundesliga.com compares Bayern's two super strikers, past and present…
Bayern's glittering history is closely interwoven with that of some the best strikers the game has ever seen. In recent history, one has stood out in particular: Robert Lewandowski.
The Pole laced up his boots for the Bavarians across eight goal-filled seasons, and scored a total of 312 over 12 years in the Bundesliga, having also previously turned out for Borussia Dortmund. Only Müller - Gerd rather than Thomas - has scored more in the German top flight with 365.
After Lewandowski - the Bundesliga's single-season top scorer no fewer than seven times - left in the summer of 2022, Bayern spent a number of months without a classic No.9.
But one year on, Bayern acquired a worthy successor in Kane. The England captain arrived as a three-time Premier League top scorer, one who top scored at the FIFA World Cup in 2018. Bayern's record signing, Kane has quickly lived up to his billing at the Allianz Arena following his switch from boyhood club Tottenham Hotspur.
"The first year certainly won't be easy for Kane, the change is big," said Lewandowski. "It'll take time to understand Bayern." Lewy also complimented his successor's ability, but few would have foreseen quite how quick Kane's impact would be.
The Englishman has scored 18 goals in his first 12 Bundesliga games - more than any other player before him in that time, and surpassing Lewandowski's record of 16 from 11 in the 2019/20 campaign.
Watch: All 41 of Lewandowski's goals for Bayern in 2020/21
Kane with unbelievable efficiency
“This is my best ever start,” enthused Kane, who had already scored more goals in 11 games than the two joint-top scorers of last season, Niclas Füllkrug and Christopher Nkunku (16). The previous season's Torjägerkanone winers have never been overtaken in so few games.
Kane has only needed an average of 56.5 minutes per Bundesliga goal, and is also converting a barely fathomable 84.6 percent of his big chances. He clearly outstrips Lewandowski in both categories (99.6 minutes and 55.6 percent), but those stats should be taken with a pinch of salt given Kane has only played a matter of weeks in Germany, and also arrived as the finished article. Lewandowski arrived as a youngster who's sensational development really took off from the age of 22.
How do the two world-class strikers deviate stylistically? A look how they score (or scored) their Bundesliga goals provides the first clue. So far, Kane has relied particularly on his stronger right foot with 12 goals (70.6 percent of his total), and four with his head (23.5 percent). Just one goal (5.9 percent) has been with his weaker left foot.
Lewandowski appeared somewhat more ambidextrous, marking 17 percent of his goals with his slightly weaker left foot (53). On the other hand, the Pole scored headers less frequently (49 goals, 15.7 percent). Kane is a serious goal-threat from corners and free-kicks, while Lewandowski is more likely capitalise on crosses from open play - all stats that can even out over time..
Physically where the two score from is already almost identical. Kane and Lewandowski have both scored around 94 percent of their goals from inside the penalty area. Long-range goals are more of a rarity for both. Bayern's current No.9 has scored one goal from outside the penalty area. Memorably, that was against Darmstadt as he spotted Marcel Schuhen off his line and lobbed him from the centre circle. Lewandowski scored 18 long-range goals, four of them with direct free-kicks.
Kane and Lewandowski: playmakers in disguise
Despite both players scoring the bulk of their goals in the attacking area, neither are pure penalty box strikers who simply finish after the hard work of others. They are attackers involved in the build-up play, who sometimes drop deep to help kickstart their teams' attacks. Both have sharp control and are able to bring others - particularly the wingers alongside them - into play.
However, there are minor differences in their hold-up play. Lewandowski prevailed in more aeriel duels (41.3 percent to 37.8 percent), his athletic leap helping to make him an ideal target man. The Pole also averaged more touches per game (39.2 to 33.8), and more passes per game (23 to 21). The 2020 sextuple winner edges England's and Spurs' record goalscorer by this measure.
However, as well as having a better finishing percentage, Kane's distribution game appears stronger. The England captain has already played a number of perfectly timed passes in his 11 Bundesliga games, and already has five assists this season. Kane breaks defensive lines with deep passes - the kind of passes which also have the greater risk. Nevertheless, his pass rate is only slightly behind Lewandowski's (73.2 percent to 76.2 percent), and when his passes land, the opponent is carved open. Kane currently only needs 192.2 minutes on average for an assist - with Lewandowski it was 349.3. Kane's 22 goal-involvements after 11 games is another record since detailed data collection began in 1988.
Watch: Every Kane goal so far in the Bundesliga
Where do their goals end up?
Both attackers are also perfectionists. They each have a favourite corner. Lewandowski scored 62 of his 312 Bundesliga goals in the bottom right corner (just under 20 percent). Kane has preferred the bottom left corner so far, scoring there five times (just under 30 percent). Kane scored less than half of his goals with low shots (47 percent), while his predecessor scored a whopping 61.5 percent with them.
Steffen Freund, a European Champion with Germany in 1996 and Dortmund in 1997, knows Kane particularly well having been Spurs' assistant coach from 2012 to 2014. "He often worked extra shifts with us assistants," he said of Bayern's current No.9. "My tip was: try not to 'complete your degree' with 100 percent intensity, not with full risk. It's better to aim at the inside of the goal, right on the post, shot placed, but only with 90 percent power," he wrote in a column for Kicker.
Kane seems to have taken this to heart: 10 of his 17 Bundesliga goals went just inside the post (58 percent). The Englishman thus aims a bit more precisely than Lewandowski, who scored 169 (54 per cent) of his goals in just inside the edge of the frame.
A little more efficiency - thanks to experience?
Kane does not share Lewandowski's outstanding athleticism, with a top speed slightly slower than the Pole's (32.7 km/h to 34.8 km/h) - but he also sprints less. He runs more in total, however, and has been successful in significantly more dribbles on average (41 percent to 35.1 percent).
Lewandowski sought out more duels, fouled more, and got more involved in direct confrontations. Again, this is a state that needs context, with Lewandowski an unpolished gem when he first arrived in German football.
Lewandowski made another big leap in his development at a slightly older age, having his most successful seasons in 2019/20 (34 goals), 2020/21 (41) and 2021/22 (35) - i.e. when he was between 31 and 33 years old!
Vote: How many goals will Kane score in 2023/24?
Is Lewandowski's 41-goal record under threat?
Kane is in his prime right now, and his experience plays an important role in his incredibly clinical start. With 17 goals scored already, it's irresistible to ask whether the Englishman will break the Pole's single-season goal record in his maiden Bundesliga campaign. If he maintains his current goal average (1.54 per game), he could score a dizzying 52 goals at the end of the season!
But the record is "still a long way off," said Kane after his recent brace against Heidenheim. "I need to stay focused, I want to keep scoring and help the team. [However], if I get close in April, I'll give it a try!"
It took 49 years before Lewandowski came along and broke Gerd Müller's 40-goal record. If Kane were to score more than 41 goals this season, the latest top mark would be toppled in two.
Watch: Kane - making a home in Munich
Both are world-class attackers, but Kane has made an incredible start to his Bayern career, and it's to his immense credit that he's already in such a conversation.
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