Cologne - Ten points clear at the top with just seven games remaining, FC Bayern München are closing in fast on their 25th national title and what would be their 24th of the post-1963 Bundesliga era. At arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 27, the defending champions moved three points closer to that particular milestone courtesy of Robert Lewandowski's 36th-minute winner.
Working up a head of steam
The Polish centre-forward was, of course, on the books at BVB himself for four years prior to his move to Munich last summer. Packed away in the luggage when he took his leave of the Ruhr district was his first Torjägerkanone, awarded annually to the league's top scorer. Oddly enough, the 20-goal tally that earned him the award was Lewandowski's lowest return in three seasons, not that it diminished the satisfaction at finishing top of the pile in any way.
The header that sealed victory at his old stomping ground took the Warsaw native up to 14 goals for the current campaign. A due sense of decorum ensured he kept the celebrations muted against his former employers, yet ruthless single-mindedness is an essential part of the make-up for any striker of Lewandowski's calibre. The good of the team always comes first but, after a slow-ish start in his new surroundings, the Bayern No9 is now on a roll and, given the belated sniff of an opportunity, can be guaranteed to go all-out in the defence of his individual scoring title over the coming weeks.
Two men remain ahead of him in the race. Team-mate Arjen Robben has hit the net 17 times this season, but the Flying Dutchman is currently recovering from an abdominal muscle injury suffered in Matchday 26's 2-0 home loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Alexander Meier, however, is fighting fit - and the 19-goal chart-topper is preparing to go head-to-head with his illustrious rival when Eintracht Frankfurt visit the Allianz Arena this weekend.
Modest Meier the frontrunner
It is a constellation few would have anticipated as the season got under way - not least with Meier initially consigned to the bench under new coach Thomas Schaaf. The ten-year Eintracht veteran soon battled his way back into the first-team frame, however, and is leading the line in spectacular fashion for Schaaf's free-scoring troops. At 32, Meier is in the form of his life although, with typical modesty, he has more than once made clear that he expects a Bayern player to be getting his hands on the coveted top scorer's cannon in late May, given the Munich side's propensity for “scoring five goals in just about every game”.
However, with Meier's self-anticipated fallow period yet to set in - so far this year he has added a further six goals to his mid-term tally of 13 - the converted midfielder remains on course for an unlikely triumph heading down the season's final straight. Whether he can further improve his chances this Saturday is a moot point, though. It will certainly require an improved all-round performance from Frankfurt on their showing in the sides' first meeting of the campaign, when Bayern cantered to a 4-0 win, with Thomas Müller Müller scoring a hat-trick.
12-goal Müller is himself still in with an outside chance of nabbing the top scorers' crown but Lewandowski, in the central striking role, seems likelier to have more opportunities to add to his total over the remaining games - fitness and selection permitting. He and Meier have similar statistics in direct comparison, both scoring for the most part with their right peg, and both fairly handy in the air as well - the Frankfurt man has netted four headers, Lewandowski three. In terms of efficiency, Meier has the edge this season, requiring 79 attempts for his 19 goals as opposed to the Poland international's 14 from 83.
Meier is also at an advantage in that he is Eintracht's designated penalty-taker, converting three out of four this season. Lewandowski has yet to step up to the spot for Bayern in the Bundesliga, something which could of course change should this particular individual contest go all the way down to the wire. Whatever the outcome, it is an ever more compelling tussle, and certainly one of the most intriguing sub-plots of the upcoming shootout between two sides with a grand total of 122 goals to their name already.