Lethal Lewandowski set to feast on Wolfsburg
Robert Lewandowski may be facing off against the Bundesliga’s stingiest defence, but the Bayern Munich striker has every reason to think he will find the net when Wolfsburg visit on Saturday.
Lewandowski has been in vintage form this season in the 2019-20 Bundesliga, scoring 19 goals.
In 16 matches this season, Wolfsburg have conceded just 16 goals – three lower than Lewandowski’s current total as the Bundesliga's winter break approaches.
If history is any guide, however, the tally is set to rise higher given the Pole’s knack for finding the net against the Wolves, who are officially Lewandowski’s favourite Bundesliga opponent.
In 18 games against the green and whites, Lewandowski has found the back of the net 21 times, including his remarkable five goals in nine minutes against them in September 2015.
That feat was all the more impressive because he had come off the bench with Bayern behind 1-0.
When he scored Bayern’s opener against Freiburg in midweek, Lewandowski overtook club legend and former coach Jupp Heynckes to move to third on the all-time Bundesliga goal-scoring list with 221.
- 'Fittest man in football' -
Lewandowski told the Bayern Munich website he was flattered, if not a little embarrassed, to be in such illustrious company.
“It’s a great honour to overtake a legend like that. I’m really happy about it,” Lewandowski said.
“I’m almost a bit sorry as he was my coach and we worked very well together.”
With more than a goal per game this season, Lewandowski is not far off the all-time record of 40 goals Mueller set playing for Bayern in 1971-72.
Now third on the list, Lewandowski is still well behind Klaus Fischer in 268 and Mueller’s remarkable total of 365, although considering the Pole’s reputation as the ‘fittest man in football’, it would take a brave pundit to rule him out.
Forced to bring on debutant Joshua Zirkzee to score an injury-time winner in midweek, Bayern's interim coach Hansi Flick said his major focus was getting his injury-hit squad through to the Christmas break with one final victory.
"The lads have played a lot of matches, it's clear we’re exhausted,” Flick said.
Wolfsburg started the season with a bang and were the final undefeated team in the Bundesliga before hitting a rough patch and losing four out of five games from November until mid-December.
They have bounced back recently, beating then leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach and drawing with an in-form Schalke over the past week.
One to watch
While Jadon Sancho and Julian Brandt have grabbed the headlines, speedy Dortmund defender Achraf Hakimi has been at the heart of the black and yellows’ resurgence over the past month.
Hakimi, who is on loan from Real Madrid, was clocked at 36.2 kilometres per hour in Dortmund’s draw with RB Leipzig on Tuesday night, officially the fastest speed ever recorded on a Bundesliga pitch.
Zinedine Zidane has fanned rumours that Real Madrid will demand he return to Spain next season but Dortmund's head of football operations Michael Zorc said he was confident the club could convince Hakimi to stay.
With Marco Reus out and Sancho a doubt for Dortmund’s match away at Hoffenheim, the Moroccan international's ability to score and assist from the right flank will grow in importance for the title hopefuls.
37 – The combined goal tally of strikers Robert Lewandowski (19) and Timo Werner (18) after 16 games this season.
7 – After a dip in form coinciding with being dropped for returning from England duty late, Jadon Sancho has now scored in his past seven games. The Englishman has contributed directly to 18 goals so far this season – nine scored and nine assisted.
18 years, 200 days – Bundesliga debutant Joshua Zirkzee scored the winner in injury time for Bayern Munich over Freiburg, becoming the youngest Dutch goal-scorer and the youngest player to find the net this Bundesliga season. Current Bremen midfielder Nuri Sahin remains the youngest to find the net, doing so at previous club Dortmund aged 17 and 82 days.
Fixtures (all times 1430 GMT unless stated)
Hoffenheim v Dortmund (1930)
Cologne v Werder Bremen, Mainz v Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke v SC Freiburg, Bayern Munich v Wolfsburg, RB Leipzig v Augsburg
Hertha Berlin v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1730)
Fortuna Duesseldorf v Union Berlin
Paderborn v Eintracht Frankfurt (1700)
© 2019 AFP