Robert Lewandowski showed exactly why he had been named UEFA's Player of the Year on Wednesday as he scored four goals in one Bundesliga game for the second time in his career, helping Bayern Munich beat Hertha Berlin on Sunday.
"It was about time he scored again. He's been a bit slack in recent games."
Although Thomas Müller was joking in his post-match remarks to bundesliga.com, it was clear to see that Lewandowski was not interested in going two consecutive Bundesliga matches without scoring. It would have been the first time since Bayern's back-to-back defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach at the end of December last season that Lewandowski had gone two league games without a goal. Something simply not possible in 2020.
In fact, Lewandowski capped off a dream week with his return to Bundesliga goals after one game without one. Having being named European Player of the Year by UEFA on Wednesday, the 31-year-old returned to Munich to save his side from a dramatic draw to the Old Lady of Berlin on Sunday, clinching a 4-3 win in added time. And despite Bayern's No.9 scoring all four goals, his role as a team player was on the lips of everyone at the Allianz Arena.
"He's Europe's Footballer of the Year, and rightly so," Bayern coach Hansi Flick told bundesliga.com. "As a centre-forward, he just scores goals, including for us today. He has quality, especially inside the box, but he's become an outstanding team player and also lays the ball off to others.
"He's one of those who provides the first impetus in defence, putting the opposition under pressure. So, I'm very pleased with him. He's absolutely the best centre-forward."
Watch: Flick on Lewandowski: "He's an outstanding team player"
As the best centre-forward, there are now very few scoring records at Bayern that the Pole does not hold. In the win over Hertha, Lewandowski reached 100 Bundesliga goals at the Allianz Arena, ended the game on 251 competitive strikes for the club and scored four goals in a single game for the second time in his career.
The whole week has been a reflection of the last year for Bayern. With Lewandowski and Flick honoured as Europe's best just one day after the Bavarians beat Borussia Dortmund to clinch their fifth title of 2020 with the DFL Supercup. All this coming after that humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of Hoffenheim one week ago.
That, and Bayern's response today, helps to alarm what makes Germany's most successful team so special: mentality. At least that's what Lewandowski thinks.
"For sure, that was not an easy game because we lost three goals and we had to fight until the last minute," Lewandowski told bundesliga.com. "I think that we showed our mentality, that we fight until the end."
That mentality is something Bayern's players work on themselves, of course. Motivating each other to do even better despite a treble-winning season and their star striker having the best scoring season of his career. One of the heartbeats of the team, Müller, knows exactly how to motivate his goal-scoring teammate.
"We told Lewy before the game he'd deservedly won the European Player of the Year but we now wanted to see some of that again," Müller said. "After scoring four goals, you can only take your hat off to him. I think champions always have to re-affirm their position. You can always find a way to the top, but it's about reaffirming that. He did that very well today."
Watch: Lewandowski: "We showed our mentality"
It's certainly fair to say that, after questions were asked of them after that loss at the PreZero Arena to Hoffenheim, Bayern's place at the top has been reaffirmed heading into the international break. And the message from Lewandowski is clear. He may be the one scoring the goals, but he would be nothing without the squad around him.
"I work hard every day for this and I'm the player who also knows what it means to be a team player," Lewandowski said. "And if the team plays well, for me it's easier to score goals, to play well or to make assists.
"I think this year for us is amazing. We won everything, we showed the best football maybe in the history of Bayern, and now expectations are very high and we have to be ready for this."
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