It is truly special to see a player on the very top of the game. Robert Lewandowski certainly falls into that category at the moment. On Saturday the Polish striker scored a brace against FC Köln recording Bundesliga goals eight and nine just five games into the 2019/20 campaign.
Lewandowski has now scored in all five of FC Bayern’s first Bundesliga games, equaling Carsten Jancker’s record from the 2000/01 season. Furthermore, his nine goals in the first five games equalize Peter Meyer’s record from the 1967/68 season.
The record numbers do not stop here, however. With 11 goals scored in all competitions, Lewandowski has scored half of Bayern’s 22 goals this season and with 1.8 goals per game is on track to score 61.2 goals this season, which would break Gerd Müller’s record of 40 goals scored in the 1971/72 season.
"It's too early for that,” Lewandowski said after the Köln victory. “I'm glad that I scored again, but we’ve only played five games. Of course, I will still try to score, but we'll see if it works," Lewandowski added.
Comparisons with Gerd Müller’s top season might come indeed too early. But there is no doubt that Lewandowski is the most complete Number 9 on the planet this season. Not only does Lewandowski score buckets of goals, but he also carries a Bayern Munich side that has long lacked the talent seen in the prime of Pep Guardiola’s era.
Before Philippe Coutinho arrived—the two partnered up to deadly effect on Saturday—Lewandowski was in many regards Bayern’s only true impact player. His ability to drop deep collect balls and carry them up the pitch meant that he not only played as a true fox-in-the-box scorer but also as a playmaker.
Think Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, but with a better goalscoring record. The two players are, in fact, somewhat comparable. Firmino’s style of play (pressing, passing, and link-up ability) might not be quantifiable on the stat sheet, but Lewandowski is defined through his goals. Firmino stands out in assists. Firmino has had 0.46 assist per 90 minutes in comparison to Lewandowski’s 0.09 assists.
In terms of passes made and dribbles per 90 minutes, the two are very comparable, however. Lewandowski has completed 76.87% of his passes this season and Firmino 79.85%. In terms of dribbles, the Brazilian has had 4.82 per 90 minutes (47.62% completed) and the Polish striker (53.19% completed).
It is in number 9 key areas where Lewandowski blows Firmino out of the water. Lewandowski has scored 0.97 goals per 90 minutes this season, Firmino just 0.29. The Polish striker also has had 4.07 shots on goal per 90 minutes, Firmino 2.98, and has on average 6.81 touches inside the box, Firmino just 4.36. Finally, when it comes to shots on target Lewandowski has managed to hit the goal 52.17% of the time, Firmino just 30.77% of the time.
On balance, Lewandowski wins every key category that defines a true Number 9. But perhaps it is also unfair to compare the two players as their roles differ widely. Furthermore, while Firmino wears the number 9 and often also fills that position on the pitch, his interpretation is more of a playmaker, think more Thomas Müller in his prime rather than Gerd Müller.
Bottom line is, both players are brilliant players, but in the typical Number 9 role, nobody does it better than an in-form Robert Lewandowski.
*This article is the opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the International Champions Cup