Robert Lewandowski: The Goalscoring Machine Transcending the Lone Striker Role

Ross Jackson

To cut it at the top level of professional football you need to possess at least one outstanding quality.

Whether it be quick feet, strength, finishing, pace, power, heading ability or intelligence, there needs to be a facet of your game that you’re confident sets you apart from the rest. Combine all of those characteristics and you’ve suddenly got yourself a super-human, freakish, lab-created fantasy striker; enter Robert Lewandowski.

Lewandowski has enjoyed the best goalscoring season of his career in 2019/20
Lewandowski has enjoyed the best goalscoring season of his career in 2019/20 / Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The Polish hitman’s consistent brilliance and lofty goal return have seen him widely regarded as the greatest centre-forward in the world for some time now, with his incredible arsenal of finishes and willingness to act as a foil for those around him making him a truly unique frontman.

Lewandowski will be 32 by the time next season’s Bundesliga kicks off. Now, normally this would signal a striker entering the twilight of his career, with his manager perhaps delving into the transfer market as he looks to reduce the workload of his ageing striker.

However, Bayern’s Munich’s number nine isn’t ‘normal’. He’s just enjoyed the most prolific season of his 14-year career, and his influence on the Bayern side just keeps growing and growing.

His astonishing 34-goal haul in just 31 league games – a Bundesliga record for a foreign striker - spearheaded Die Roten’s charge to their eight consecutive top-flight crown, with six goals in five DFB-Pokal clashes securing a second successive domestic double for Hans-Dieter Flick’s side.

And the Bayern trophy cabinet isn’t locked away for the season just yet, with progression to the quarter-finals of the Champions League looking inevitable following their 3-0 demolition of Chelsea in the first leg of their round of 16 tie.

It’ll come as no surprise to hear that Lewandowski has once again been central to the club’s quest for European glory, with his tally of 11 goals in six games seeing him sat top of the Champions League goalscoring charts.

Should the frontman maintain his standing as the most prolific marksman in Europe’s premier competition – something which seems more than likely given the only player within five goals of his current tally, Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, has now been eliminated – he'll have finished top goalscorer in every competition he’s played in this campaign.

The heady figures Lewandowski has produced this season would undoubtedly have seen him as one of the frontrunners for this year’s Ballon d’Or award, only for him to be denied his moment in the spotlight following the 2020 event’s cancellation due to ‘lack of a sufficiently level playing field’.

The prestigious accolade would have capped a truly sensational season and an even more sensational career.   

However, this isn’t the first time events out of Lewandowski’s control have hampered his career. If fable is to be believed (and by fable we of course mean 'Sam Allardyce’s Bedtime Tales') his 2010 move to Blackburn Rovers was called off due to a volcanic ash cloud over Iceland meaning he was unable to fly to the Lancashire club.

The move subsequently collapsed, with Lewandowski moving to Dortmund, instead of partnering Franco Di Santo and being forced to create something from balls that were punted so high they came down with snow on them.

The Poland captain enjoyed a fruitful four-year spell at Dortmund, helping secure their first Bundesliga crown for nine years in his first season at Westfalenstadion, before retaining the title the following year.

Undoubtedly the standout moment of his time with Jurgen Klopp came in the 2012/13 Champions League, becoming the first player ever to notch four goals in the semi-final of Europe’s premier competition against Spanish giants Real Madrid.

The diversity of the frontman’s strikes on the night said as much about him as a player as the quantity, with two instinctive finishes and one thunderbolt of a penalty sandwiching one of the most sublime pieces of close control followed by a swivel and finish that you are ever likely to see.

The performance was enough to see Madrid eager to sign the out-of-contract Dortmund striker in 2014 – along with his 103 goals in 187 games presumably – with Lewandowski said to be keen on moving to the Santiago Bernabeu to link up with Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, he eventually settled on a move to Bayern, and he hasn’t looked back.

242 goals in 285 games for the Bavarians have spearheaded the club’s recent trophy haul, with his six seasons at Allianz Arena gleaning six league titles and three DFB-Pokal triumphs.

Ironically, his finest individual performance for the club came when named as a substitute for Bayern’s league clash with Wolfsburg in 2015.

With Pep Guardiola’s side trailing 1-0, the Spanish tactician called upon the services of his talisman at half-time. Despite kicking off the second half a goal down, by the hour mark the champions held an astonishing four-goal lead, and it was all down to the work of the brilliant Lewandowski.

The goalscoring machine went into overdrive, notching a world-record five goals in less than nine minutes, with his acrobatic fifth encapsulating the quality and ingenuity that has seen him become the best centre-forward in the world.

Somewhat unbelievably, the one piece of silverware which has eluded Lewandowski throughout his trophy-laden career is the Champions League. However, with Bayern’s passage to the quarter-finals as good as secured, this season’s competition represents a golden chance for the Pole to notch his first winner’s medal.

Despite having 'technically' never been part of the best team in Europe, there can be no arguments that Lewandowski is the best striker in Europe and has been for many years. A once-in-a-generation frontman who has truly raised the bar for centre-forward play.