Just because Poland aren't among the favourites at this summer's rescheduled UEFA Euro 2020, doesn't mean Bayern Munich goal machine Robert Lewandowski cannot claim the tournament's Golden Boot.
Let's start with the elephant in the room. Lewandowski outscored every player in Europe's top five leagues in 2020/21, rattling off 48 goals in 41 competitive appearances - including a record 41 in 29 Bundesliga matches.
That's a Lewandowski league goal every 60 minutes - hands down the best ratio among his fellow Euro Golden Boot contenders.
For comparison's sake, Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal) averaged one every 96.6 minutes (29); Andre Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt/Portugal) one every 99 minutes (28); Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain/France) one every 99 minutes (27); Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan/Belgium) one every 120 minutes (24); Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur/England) one every 134 minutes (23).
Watch: Robert Lewandowski - 41 goals and more to come!
On that basis alone, Lewandowski should put away at least four goals across Poland's three group games against Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. That number could rise significantly if the 32-year-old repeats his 10 brace-or-better showings in the 2020/21 Bundesliga - not to mention if his country advance to the knockout rounds.
Topping the group would set up a last-16 tie against a third-placed finisher. The runners-up berth posits a winnable meeting against second from a group comprising Croatia, England, Czech Republic and Scotland. The winner of Group B or C await if they sneak through as one of best-ranked third-placed teams.
Antoine Griezmann - a beaten finalist with France - top scored with six goals in seven appearances in 2016, while the lead was shared by six players - all on three goals - four years earlier. Alan Dzagoev was one of them, despite Russia's failure to make it past the groups.
Indeed, the competition winners have only produced the outright top scorer once across the last five editions of the European Championships (Spain's David Villa - four goals in 2008). Michel Platini holds the single-tournament record with nine (1984), but historically five is the most common denominator among previous Golden Boot prizemen.
It's not like Lewandowski saves his best performances for the red of Bayern, either.
The Poland captain became the first player in history to score 16 goals in a single FIFA World Cup European qualifying campaign en route to Russia 2018, and struck six times in 10 Euro 2020 qualifiers. His last of two career goals across three major tournaments prior to Euro 2020 to date fell in Poland's penalty shoot-out defeat to eventual winners Portugal in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, but that was before the reigning FIFA Best Player started scoring at least 40 club goals per season.
Further strengthening the case for LewanGOALski, Poland tend to play the 4-2-3-1 formation he feeds off at Bayern, and he is his country's designated penalty and free-kick taker. His record from the spot is 62 scored, five missed.
Watch: How Lewandowski broke Gerd Müller's goals record
According to the bookies, Kane was the pre-tournament favourite to be top scorer at the Euros. He won the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot, with three penalties accounting for half his total haul, but tallied 18 fewer league goals than Lewandowski over the course of 2020/21.
In terms of xG, the Tottenham forward scored two more than expected. Lewandowski's differential was well over +10. The Bundesliga's record non-German marksman also came up trumps in the shots-to-goal department with a tidy average of 3.34 compared to Kane's 5.95 - both from 137 attempts.
That leaves Lukaku, Mbappe, Ronaldo, Memphis Depay (Lyon/Netherlands), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/France), Ciro Immobile (Lazio/Italy), Alvaro Morata (Juventus/Spain) and Patrik Schick (Bayer Leverkusen/Czech Republic) to complete the list of apparent front-runners ahead of the most complete No.9 in world football.
It's a topsy-turvy prognosis in light of Lewandowski's sixth successive 40-or-more goal season for club and country. Expect the Bayern and Poland hit man to swing the odds firmly back in his favour when the Euros get under way.
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