One of the most enjoyable aspects of watching a football match is watching goals go in – be it free kicks, penalties, volleys or even tap-ins. Another spectacle to relish is watching a consummate striker bang in goals and making it look easy while doing so. Being a fan of football, one thing that we all adore is watching our team’s striker do it on a regular basis. And talking about strikers brings us to Robert Lewandowski, arguably one of the top 5 strikers playing right now and probably one of the best in history. Scoring goals left right and center, Robert Lewandowski has become a household name in world football and has established himself as one of the best number 9s to grace the beautiful game.
Having started his first-team career in the third tier of Polish football with Delta Warsaw, he only managed to catch attention from scouts playing for Znicz Pruszkow where he scored 15 goals in the Polish third division and helped the team get promotion to the second tier. After playing one more season for Znicz Pruszkow he finally got a move to the Ekstraklasa (Polish First Division) side Lech Poznań. After making a name for himself in the Ekstraklasa, Lewandowski garnered the attention of several clubs looking for his signature. In 2010, After a lot of speculation Lewandowski ended up signing for the Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund. It took Lewandowski a season to become a regular starter, but once he did get the spot (profiting off of Lucas Barrios’ injury) he didn’t let go of that opportunity. Driven by his amazing form, Lewandowski’s performances helped Dortmund win their second straight Bundesliga title in 2011-12. In the following season, Lewandowski started making his name in world football as his brilliant goal-scoring performances including a four-goal haul against Real Madrid in the champions league meant Borussia Dortmund finished that season as Champions League runners up only to lose to their fierce rivals Bayern Munich in the final. After one more season at the Signal Iduna Park, Lewandowski moved to the Bundesliga winners Bayern Munich. It was here at Bayern that Lewandowski made his career highlight of scoring 5 goals in just 9 minutes against VFL Wolfsburg and that too coming off the bench. Lewandowski has now reached his 5th season with the German Champions, and he has been the highest scorer in the league in 3 out those seasons, and if this season’s stats are anything to go by, his fourth is definitely on the way.
In all his years of professional Top Flight football, Lewandowski has proved that he is one of the best no. 9s in football, scoring goals with his left foot, right foot, head, scoring freekicks, penalties and all sorts of acrobatic volleys that one can think of. The best aspect of having Lewandowski in your team is that goals are guaranteed, and he has proved so with his goal-scoring prowess that has helped all the teams he has been a part of win major silverware.
Positioning and Role:
Robert Lewandowski has been an out and out striker since his early days in football. Even during his Liga 2 days, he was knocking up goals, scoring 15 goals for Znicz Pruszków and helping them gain promotion to the second division. But his glory days officially began during his tenure at Dortmund. Under Jurgen Klopp, Lewandowski grew as a no.9. Playing as a target man, Lewandowski’s brilliance helped Dortmund to become the Champions of Germany for the second year running in 2012. Jurgen Klopp knew that he had a gem on his hands and built the Dortmund side around Lewandowski to get him all the supplies he needed to slam in those goals. In 2013, Lewandowski along with Mario Gotze and Marco Reus destroyed defenses both in the Bundesliga and Champions League. Having built the team around the no 9, Klopp got everything he needed out of Lewandowski as his superior positioning, his movement in the box, his excellent heading ability, and his raw shot power made him one of the most lethal strikers in the world. During that season, Lewandowski single-handedly managed to destroy the record European Champions Real Madrid, scoring 4 goals in front of the mesmerising yellow wall. He scored all sorts of goals from a sublime volley to tap-ins and a penalty to destroy the Merengues’ hopes of reaching the final. That performance, described by many as one of the best displays by a number 9 helped Dortmund put one foot in the final to be played at Wembley. After that performance, Lewandowski cemented his position as one of the world’s best target men and caught the attention of the bigger clubs in European football as Manchester United and Bayern Munich were both looking for his signature.
At Bayern, the team was built around the legendary Robbery, and Lewandowski just fit perfectly in that puzzle to make one of the greatest front threes in European Football. Since then, Lewandowski has carved his name into the book of Bayern Legends winning the Bundesliga in all his seasons at the Bavarian Club and being the top scorer in the league in 3 seasons.
Lewandowski’s superior position is another reason why he is regarded as the world’s best. The core skills that a striker needs to have are Anticipation, Reaction, Positioning and Execution. To many, these skills are something they acquired over years of training, but to some these come naturally. Lewandowski has proven to be one, to whom these skills come naturally.
The Predatory Instinct:
One of the key attributes associated with any striker around the world, the predatory instinct is what defines a lethal striker. Being a target man, Lewandowski has proven to have that predatory instinct. Going behind the ball after every shot taken by his teammate, preparing himself for a rebound off a save or if the ball strikes the post so that he can finish the chance and catch the opponents off guard shows that he carries that instinct and has the hunger to score.
The movement in around the box:
One thing that Lewandowski is criticized the most is scoring simple tap-ins. A lot of people don’t want to include Lewandowski in the top striker’s list because he scores tap-ins, but what they don’t realize is that it takes a brilliant reader of the game to get into positions to score those tap-ins. And this is something Lewandowski is exceptional at and what makes him a dangerous striker. Since his early days in the Polish top flight and up till his Bayern times, Lewandowski has proven to be brilliant in reading spaces between and in behind the defenses. Reading these spaces is what makes a striker lethal. A term often associated with strikers, “The Striker’s Instinct”, is something Lewandowski possesses which allows him to be present at “the right place at the right time” to score the tap-ins which many people consider as easy.
Dropping back a little:
During the build-up, Lewandowski also likes to help by getting involved. As he is a striker, there is a constant marker on him, so when he drops back a little into the midfield, he takes a marker with him, this allows an attacking midfielder or a winger to make a run between that defender and get in on goal.
Brilliant in the air:
Another aspect of Lewandowski’s game is his excellent heading ability. He is one of the best headers of the ball in world football. This also adds to his arsenal of ways to score a goal. Adding his heading ability to his brilliant movement inside the box gives us a player who is always available in the box to pounce onto crosses provided to him by his teammates
In most ways, Lewandowski is an old fashioned number 9. He is focused on scoring, he is dominant in the air and his movement in and around the box is top-notch. But one thing that separates him from traditional strikers is his physical capability. Lewandowski combines the old fashioned number 9 with the physical capabilities of a very modern footballer. Alongside his tactical awareness and his ability to score, Lewandowski also has the numbers to back him as one of the greatest strikers of all time. He has won almost everything a club footballer can win including individual awards. And with only a Champions League missing in his club level trophy cabinet, Lewandowski will give his all this season to add that to his cabinet.
In the end, Robert Lewandowski will go down in history books as one of the greatest strikers of modern-day football and that player “who scored 5 goals in 9 minutes”.