Robert Lewandowski: Bayern’s world-class striker under the tactical microscope

Robert Lewandowski has scored all five of Bayern Munich’s goals this season, in just two games! What is it that makes the Polish striker so deadly? Join bundesliga.com for a closer look…

After bagging a beautiful brace in the Matchday 1 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin, Lewandowski backed up his promising start to the season in style, netting an outstanding hat-trick at the weekend.

Putting Schalke to the sword in Bayern Munich's 3-0 triumph, the Polish star's strikes mean he's now scored all five of his side's Bundesliga goals this season. Starting the season in scintillating fashion, Lewandowski is scoring at an amazing rate of a goal every 36 minutes.

A truly masterful finisher, his expertise in this area saw him score all three goals in clinical fashion from an Expected Goals (xG) reading of just 1.32. Very impressive indeed, but not unsurprising, for Lewandowski's always brilliant at maximising the opportunities presented to him.

Ultra-fit and competitive, he lead the line with aplomb for the champions on his way to yet again proving why he's one of the premier centre-forwards in world football.

From his customary striking role, Lewandowski's positional sense, ability to read the play and movement formed the perfect foundation for him to wreak havoc. Always working intelligently across the attacking half and surveying his surroundings, he tailored his movement depending on what was going on around him.

Watch: Highlights of Bayern's 3-0 win over Schalke!

Picking his moments when to drop deep, surge in behind, support wide attacks or interchange with a teammate, he constantly altered defenders' reference points. This made him extremely difficult to keep tabs on, for Schalke's backline couldn't settle into a rhythm and come to grips with who should mark him.

Dropping deep effectively to link midfield and attack, he'd regularly find space between the lines to receive due to a Schalke midfielder and central defender not knowing who to track him. He didn't need a second invitation to take advantage of the freedom either, turning quickly or receiving in ideal forward facing postures so he could continue upfield. If a tracker was following when he checked towards the ball carrier, his composure, brilliant first touch and ball control ensured he remained composed to execute his actions cleanly.

Smart positioning between the lines

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It was important to note how effectively Lewandowski protected the ball and didn't remain stationary while waiting for an option to arise. By receiving in strong body shapes and using his first touch to gain separation when holding up the ball, he made sure he either won fouls or bought himself vital time and space to make coherent decisions.

When it came to embarking on runs into the box and in behind, he was equally impressive. Quick to spot when a teammate was in position to find him, he timed his runs sharply. Keen to gain the upper hand by exploiting the blindside of his man, the gaps between the centre-backs or the full-back and centre-back, this allowed him to bomb ahead unimpeded.

Brilliant run between defenders

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Nice diagonal run into the box

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Well timed run into the box

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Intelligent run and reading of the play

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Angling his runs smartly so he remained onside and got goalside of his man, plus knowing when to hold back his runs as the defence retreated to cover the six-yard box, Lewandowski proved a tough man to contain. Indeed, his third goal served as a glowing reference to his value here, where he held his run to receive Kingsley Coman's cutback near the edge of the box before breezing by his marker with a sublime first touch. To round out the passage, he then calmly slotted home with a searing finish.

Holding his run prior to his third goal

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Excellent first touch and finish

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Further upside could be gained from how he rotated smoothly with his fellow attackers to pop up across the frontline, with this enhancing what an elusive proposition he was for Schalke.

Doing a top job of pinning and drawing opponents away from areas so his teammates could exploit them also deserved mention. He did this by attracting one or more markers with his crafty positioning, so spaces opened in the 10 spaces, in the half spaces, between defenders or during counter attacks for teammates.

Expertly pinning two defenders to create space

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Great interchange with Gnabry and drawing out opponent

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Neat and tidy with the ball at his feet, Lewandowski's crisp touch and control ensured he maintained possession adeptly while evading pressure. Demonstrating his tidy array of maneuvers to weave out of trouble, the way he used feints, shimmies, shoulder drops and slick changes of pace and direction was key.

Meanwhile, in terms of his passing, he partook in some lovely combination play in close quarters and connected passages with clarity. Distributing accurately and weighting his passing nicely, he also hit some successful through balls and switches of play.

Dropping deep and lovely switch of play

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Deadly inside the box, his imperious finishing was on full show. His first exhibited his unwavering confidence and conviction, as he stroked home his penalty after sending Alexander Nübel the wrong way with a hesitation step.

Masterful penalty

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Then, for his second, the dead-ball whizz struck a scintillating free kick from 25 yards. Parlaying power, placement and getting just the right amount of curl, he gave Nübel no chance by ripping his shot into the top corner.

Lewandowski's superb free kick

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To round out his hat-trick off, he blasted home the wonderful finish, which was touched on earlier.

To shine the spotlight on his heading ability, his value here notably extended to set pieces and when Bayern couldn't break the press and were forced to go long. In such cases, Lewandowski acted as an ideal target for corners and as Bayern looked to bypass Schalke's harrying to win second balls higher up. One particularly eye-catching example of his aerial prowess came in the first half, where he rapidly picked up the ball's trajectory and used his enviable leap to power a header on goal against multiple defenders.

Quality leap and run at corner

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Scoring in his ninth consecutive match against Schalke, Lewandowski once again proved an unstoppable force, in a match where he ran riot. Such a difference maker and able to hurt his adversaries in so many ways, he underlined how his impact goes far beyond just his goals.

By the numbers, his five shots on target, six touches inside the box, three dribbles, two aerial duels won, one key pass and one progressive run, in combination with him completing all three of his attempted long balls and 19 of 25 overall passes, illustrated his output aptly.

Gunning for his fifth Torjägerkanone crown and fiercely determined to propel Bayern to another Bundesliga title, there's certainly no signs that the 31-year-old will be slowing down anytime soon. The multifaceted marksman's blistering start to the campaign has shown that emphatically.

Edward Stratmann