Robert Lewandowski Can Claim Superiority Over Lionel Messi (for 2020 at Least) in Champions League

Ross Kennerley
Lewandowski is Messi's primary opposition for 2020 supremacy
Lewandowski is Messi's primary opposition for 2020 supremacy / Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Bayern Munich take on Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals on Friday night, in a match many are dubbing as a potential game of the season.

Two super-clubs with vastly differing outlooks at present lock horns on the grandest stage of all for a one-off showdown, fronted by the two finest players of this season.

On paper, this clash is Bayern's to lose. A league and cup double has already been secured, their squad is balanced and their future looks to hold an unending procession of domestic silverware. They also have a 100% record in this season's Champions League. Barça, on the other hand, have issues galore.

But we're not here to talk about the teams here. We are focussing on the stars within them. The talismanic men who've shone the brightest and are engaged in an almighty tussle to sit atop the footballing heap as the one who reigns supreme in 2020.

The league campaigns are over for this season, titles won and lost, goals scored and assisted. If all sporting activity were to conclude for the year, Robert Lewandowski would finish as the top dog. The outright leader as footballer of the year. The deserving winner of the Ballon d'Or - an award seemingly snatched away from his grasp. Although, FIFA's The Best award may yet be up for grabs, at least if Karl-Heinz Rummenigge can help it.

But the year isn't over.

The small matter of the Champions League is still to come. Should Lionel Messi and Barcelona navigate their way past Die Roten, the conversation surrounding who has superiority this year shifts dramatically. Not only that, but it lays the foundations for next season, which is - of course - mere weeks away already.

Messi may be trailing in the Pole's shadow at present, but discounting him is to be done at one's own peril. The man is still the same man capable of the otherworldly, which we may very well witness at the Estádio da Luz.

If the Argentine (who lest we forget has 33 goals and 24 goals in all comps this season) were to single-handedly drag Barça into the last four then this discussion of football's current apex predator takes a rather dramatic turn.

Lewandowski also has the chance to bend history in his favour, however. His best individual season to date could also end up as one of his club's greatest in memory You'd have to say, if his side win on Friday, he will have outshone Messi to seal the year as his own, regardless of whether it's worthy of an individual award or not.

57 goal contributions in 43 outings are the sum of Messi's parts, whereas Lewandowski tops that with 61 from his 44 appearances. Of course, directly comparing the stats is sheer folly. The pair operate in entirely different ways, based on their own styles. But what the figures do is highlight the superiority of the two, placing them well within their own stratospheres this calendar year.

The odds are stacked in Lewandowski's favour. His side are the stronger in almost all areas of the pitch, have momentum coming into the fixture and boast the best striker in the world right now.

We're all aching for a disruption to the status quo. It needn't be mentioned that Messi is adored worldwide and has longevity in his favour - given the last 13 or so years of magnificence - but ushering in a new champion, as it were, to act as the new holy Pope to the rest of the football world is a shift in the timeline we all yearn for.

Moreover, there is nothing suggesting Messi will drop off from hereon in. He'll continue to dazzle, score and excite for years to come, even if he's 33, so it's about time another entity entered the fray.

Even if Lewandowski and co were to fall short on Friday then it wouldn't diminish the work he's put in thus far. 53 goals in a single campaign is beyond remarkable. Yet you can't help but feel that if he grabs the headlines over Messi in Portugal and guides his side into the Champions League semi-finals, then 2020 will be his to cherish. Ballon d'Or or not.

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