After spending the autumn smashing record after record for FC Bayern München, Robert Lewandowski’s scintillating form has showed no sign of ending in 2016.
Crowned Polish Sportsperson of the Year in January, Lewandowski picked up after the winter break where he had left off in December, scoring two braces in as many games at the end of the month to help the record champions consolidate their position at the Bundesliga summit.
Leading the way
If any proof was needed of the perenniality of Lewandowski's brilliance, however, it was provided in February. A further two braces in the space of four days saw FC Bayern's superstar striker sink VfL Bochum in the DFB Cup, before deciding a potentially tricky fixture in the Bavarians' favour away to FC Augsburg. A week later, Lewandowski grabbed another in his team's 3-1 come-from-behind win at home to SV Darmstadt 98.
For most strikers, such a run of form would be something special. There is no simpler way to describe Lewandowski's genius than to say that, for him, it is bread and butter. His three league goals in February mean that he sits proudly atop the 2015/16 scoring charts once more, ahead of Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“He is very important for us. We need him to keep scoring,” said Pep Guardiola after Lewandowski had completed his fourth double of the calendar year against Augsburg. Team-mate Thomas Müller echoed the Catalan’s sentiments: “If he carries on like this, it can't harm us.”
Bayern's deadly duo
Lewandowski’s partnership with Müller has blossomed as the season has progressed. Between them, the duo scored eight of Bayern’s nine league goals between Matchdays 18 and 22. With 39 goals between them already this season, comparisons are already being drawn between them and Bayern's great strike partnership of the 1970's: Gerd Müller and Dieter Hoeneß.
Twice in successive seasons (1971/72 and 1972/73), Müller and Hoeneß netted a total of 53 goals for Bayern, who were crowned champions on both occasions. A long-standing Bundesliga record, it was finally broken in 2009 when VfL Wolfsburg's Edin Dzeko and Grafite managed 54 in a single campaign. At their current rate, Müller and Lewandowski will be setting yet another best mark before the end of the season.
“It would be nice to score myself,” quipped Arjen Robben recently, “but at the moment I don't really need to. We've got two guys that are scoring in every game.”
It is not just his colleagues at Bayern who are lavishing Lewandowski with praise. The Polish striker has also caught the attention of one of the greatest goalscorers in football history. Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldo recently described Lewandowski as being one of the “joint best strikers” in the world today.
Even Italian giants Juventus FC, Bayern’s opponents in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, are not immune to Lewandowski's aura. When asked ahead of the first leg which single Bayern player he feared most of all, Juventus head coach Massimo Allegri gave a simple, two word answer: