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Lewandowski for the Win

 

The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2020 award is announced in Zurich this Thursday, with Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi competing for the prize. With the exceptional form he showed in 2019-20 continuing into the current season, it’s surely time that Lewandowski is recognised for his exceptional talent.

By: Matt Furniss

Robert Lewandowski is the only worthy winner of the 2020 Best FIFA Men’s Player award. Across the period between 20 July 2019 to 7 October 2020 that the award is judged on, no player has been as consistently world class as the Bayern Munich and Poland striker.

Lewandowski has scored 60 goals for Bayern Munich in just 52 appearances in between those dates; twenty more than any other player to play in the top five European Leagues. His goalscoring consistency cannot be questioned, with a frightening average of a goal every 76 minutes at club level across the 15 months considered by FIFA for this award – an average better than any player to have scored 30+ goals in this timespan.

 

 

Looking at all three finalists between the judged months of July 2019 and October 2020, Lewandowski is the clear standout.

The Pole has the best goal tally (64), the best shot conversion rate (25%) and minutes per goal ratio (79) across club and country appearances and has outperformed his xG total by six goals. But not only has he been the most clinical finisher in front of goal, he’s done so with exceptional frequency.

 

 

Lewandowski ended 2019-20 with 55 club goals at Bayern Munich, the best tally by a player within the top five European leagues since Luis Suarez’s tally of 59 goals for Barcelona in 2015-16.

34 of those goals last season were scored in the German Bundesliga, where he became the joint-fourth highest goalscorer within a single campaign in the competition, behind only Gerd Müller’s efforts in 1969-70, 1971-72 and 1972-73. These 34 goals were the most seen by a player in a single Bundesliga season since Dieter Müller’s tally of 34 in 1976-77 for 1. FC Köln.

 

 

Altogether, Lewandowski has now won five Kicker Torjägerkanone awards for finishing as top goalscorer in a Bundesliga season. The only player to have won more is Gerd Müller (7) and although Bayern’s current star won’t be able to reach the legendary Müller’s tally with another win this season, he is on course to become the first player to ever win it in four successive Bundesliga seasons.

The 32-year-old is undoubtedly the best number 9 in world football, right now but what made his 2019-20 campaign so special was that it was his best yet.

 

 

Coming into this season, 2019-20 was Lewandowski’s best Bundesliga campaign yet with 34 goals and a shot conversion rate of 24.6%. Worryingly for Bayern’s opponents, the Polish striker looks like breaking those records again this season – his current minutes per goals ratio and shot conversion ratio far exceeds what we’ve seen from him so far in his career. He scored both of Bayern’s goals in their 2-1 home win over Wolfsburg on Wednesday evening, taking his all-time Bundesliga tally to 251 goals – only Gerd Müller (365) and Klaus Fischer (268) have more in the history of the competition.

 

Looking at 2019-20 data, specifically non-penalty xG and non-penalty goal tallies of every player to play 1000 minutes or more within the top five Leagues, it’s clear to see how elite Lewandowski is.

 

 

Lewandowski scored at a rate of 0.94 goals per 90 minutes last season in the Bundesliga, a rate that only Erling Haaland (1.1) and Kylian Mbappé (1.07) bettered – however, both youngsters played much less frequently than the Pole.

It wasn’t only in the Bundesliga that Lewandowski impressed last season, as the Bayern forward also led the scoring charts in the UEFA Champions League.

With 15 goals in 10 appearances for the winners of the competition in 2019-20, his tally has only been bettered by one player and in two seasons of the Champions League – Cristiano Ronaldo in 2013-14 (17 goals) and 2015-16 (16 goals).

 

 

Before blanking in the final, Lewandowski had scored in nine consecutive Champions League matches. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in more successive appearances in the history of the European Cup/Champions League, with 11 in a row between June 2017 and April 2018.

Along with his top scorer awards in the Bundesliga and Champions League during 2019-20, the Bayern striker replicated his clubs’ treble-winning campaign in finishing as the top goalscorer in last season’s DFB-Pokal with six goals – he is the only player in history to achieve this specific feat.

 

 

Back in October, Lewandowski won his first-ever UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award at a canter. With four of the previous winners of the FIFA award having won the UEFA award in the same year, it should be a forgone conclusion that the Bayern striker picks up the accolade on Thursday.

 


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