bundesliga

Is Andre Silva the biggest threat to Robert Lewandowski's top scorer dominance?

Using Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS to look at attacking zones, bundesliga.com looks at how Andre Silva - and not Erling Haaland, Andrej Kramaric or Wout Weghorst - is the biggest threat to Robert Lewandowski's goalscoring dominance.

Silva has rocketed almost unnoticed towards the upper echelons of the 2020/21 scoring chart with 18 goals in only 20 league appearances. That's a total that would've seen him already claim the Torjägerkanone in five previous Bundesliga seasons.

The reason why the 25-year-old isn't on track for the honour this campaign is because of Lewandowski, whose 25 goals is the most ever after 21 matchdays. But is the race actually all over?

While Silva can't influence the Bayern Munich striker's scoring, he can and has been doing his bit for Frankfurt. The Eagles as a team are enjoying their best Bundesliga campaign in almost three decades with 39 points, and go into their Matchday 22 clash with Bayern in third place.

They are also the league's form team on a 10-match unbeaten run (eight wins, two draws) and have earned 22 of a possible 24 points since the turn of the year - Bayern are next in that regard with 19. And so much of that is down to the scoring feats of Silva, who has seemingly found his place with Eintracht.

Germany is the fourth country the striker has played in over the last five years, having started in his native Portugal with Porto, joining AC Milan in Italy and then going on loan to Sevilla in Spain before originally moving to Frankfurt on loan in 2019, with Ante Rebic going the other way.

Watch: The best of Silva

After a decent but under-the-radar maiden Bundesliga campaign that produced 12 goals in 25 games, his transfer was made permanent in September 2020. Silva especially burst into life following May's restart, netting eight times across the final 11 matchdays.

Perhaps aided by the short summer break, he continued that form at the start of this season with three goals in the first four games. Come the end of 2020, the 37-time Portugal international had 18 league goals in the calendar year, which was behind only Lewandowski (32) and Haaland (23) in the Bundesliga.

Moving into the present and 2021, Silva is the top scorer across Europe's top five leagues this year with nine goals - one more than the likes of Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah. It also means he's scored half of his total for 2020/21 in the eight matches since the winter break, during which time Frankfurt have moved from ninth up to third.

Andre Silva's form has been so good for Eintracht Frankfurt that ahead of the visit of Bayern Munich, Luka Jovic has yet to start a game for the Eagles since his return. - imago images / Ulrich Hufnagel

Eighteen goals after 21 matchdays is a new club record for Eintracht and he's on the verge of becoming only the second player in club history to reach 20 in a Bundesliga season. Bernd Hölzenbein netted 26 in 1976/77.

Silva's form is obviously closely linked with that of Frankfurt. With a further two assists, he's had a direct hand in 46.5 per cent of the team's 43 goals, which is second only to Bayern in the league this season.

He is yet to be on the losing side in the 22 games he has started and scored in the Bundesliga, including 13 this season. No player in Germany's top flight has scored the opening goal of a game more times in 2020/21 than Silva (six), while his five braces is second only to Lewandowski's six.

However, as impressive as those numbers are, they don't really show his deeper impact on Frankfurt's game.

As well as 74 shots this season (second only to Lewandowski), he's created 19 for teammates, including six clear-cut chances (the most in the league by a forward), has won a solid 48 per cent of challenges and also has fine ball control, as shown by his eight nutmegs (the most by a striker).

Standing at 6'1" he is a constant threat in the air with seven of his 30 Bundesliga goals being headers, but he's also no slouch with a top speed this season of 20.5 mph (32.9 kmph). That pace is another weapon in his and Frankfurt's arsenal, with him not simply lingering around the box but also lurking on the shoulder of the last defender. His 16 offsides this term may be the third-most in the league but demonstrates his eagerness to run in behind.

Watch: Frankfurt's flying Eagles

"My job is just to do the best for Eintracht. I try to play well, I try to open a team with my movements," Silva explained after rounding off Frankfurt's 3-1 win at Hoffenheim on Matchday 20. "I try everything to make the team play well and, after the hard work, the goal comes with the help of everyone."

After the recent 2-0 win over Cologne, head coach Adi Hütter added: "He's a great player who really works hard on his game, stays behind after every training session with Filip Kostic and Luka Jovic and tries to get chances on goal. It gives him confidence, he's scoring, 20 games and 18 goals, that's a great ratio you have to say."

Silva has clearly become an influential and impressive cog within a resurgent Frankfurt team, so could he really challenge Lewandowski for the top scorer's crown?

The seven-goal deficit may be difficult to overturn in the financial capital, but the Portuguese will believe he can at least keep pace.

Watch: Silva: "My secret is that I trust myself"

He averages a goal every game-and-a-half in the Bundesliga, which would imply at least eight more this season. He also has a very good conversion rate of a goal a fraction over every fourth shot and actually ranks among the most prolific goalscorers in the league's history.

The ne plus ultra in the Bundesliga remains Gerd Müller with a goal every 105 minutes, which is a rate Lewandowski has now matched. But among players to have made a minimum of 30 appearances, the next most prolific is in fact Silva, who strikes on average every 110 minutes. By means of comparison, the league's second-highest scorer of all time, Klaus Fischer, did so every 172 minutes, and 220-goal legend Jupp Heynckes every 147.

Another thing in Frankfurt's favour and perhaps already seen in their advanced position in the table is that they are able to focus solely on the league this season. After two successive and successful UEFA Europa League campaigns, things finally appeared to catch up with the Eagles last term as they finished ninth.

Only two Bundesliga defeats in 2020/21, though, is the fewest in the league alongside Bayern and Wolfsburg - the teams to inflict those two losses - and means Frankfurt are very much in the black this year. And even with the sensational return of Jovic in the winter transfer window, Silva remains the club's greatest asset in attack.

A positive result when Bayern come to Deutsche Bank Park on Saturday would only enhance the portfolio. Expect to see Silva busy on the trading floor as the Bundesliga's highest risers take on its biggest hitters.

Charlie Mason