Champions League Final: Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski Continues to Rise

Alex RichardsContributor IMay 22, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 30:  Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund shoots past Raphael Varane of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 30, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

To say Robert Lewandowski has taken a progressive step in his career these last 12 months is an understatement. Indeed, since his arrival at Borussia Dortmund in 2010, his entire career has been one of continued progression.

He has quickly moved from Lucas Barrios' back-up to impeaching the Paraguayan in Jurgen Klopp's starting 11, and now enjoys his current standing as perhaps the side's most important player and greatest match winner.

The current 2012-13 campaign will go down as the season in which the Polish international exploded and became widely heralded as one of the premier strikers in world football.

Having won the German league and cup double in 2011-12, scoring 30 goals in the process—including a stunning hat-trick in the cup final victory over Bayern Munich—Lewandowski has improved on that tally despite Dortmund's disappointing defence of their Bundesliga crown, where they lost out to Bayern's unrelenting barrage.

36 goals in 48 matches stands as his tally this time round, during a campaign displayed perfectly in microcosm on April 24, during BVB's Champions League semi-final first leg success against Real Madrid.

With Jose Mourinho's side arriving in Dortmund as favourites to reach the final and in search of the fabled decima, all eyes were on the Spanish giants. At the end of 90 minutes however, the nine-time European champions had been thoroughly decimated, and Robert Lewandowski's ascension into the highest echelons of the European game was complete.

The Dortmund No. 9 created history with a striking performance which oozed quality, simultaneously becoming the first player to score four goals in a European Cup semi-final and the first player to score a hat-trick against Real Madrid in Champions League history.

A complete centre-forward performance from the Pole saw him lead the line with fantastic aplomb, intelligent movement, excellent hold-up play and lethal finishing. The pick of his quadruple was undoubtedly his third, a sensational drag-back doing for Pepe's despairing challenge before a ferocious shot sent high into Diego Lopez's net.

Now Lewandowski arrives at Wembley looking to do to Bayern just as he did to both Madrid and Jupp Heynckes' side 12 months previously in the aforementioned DFB Pokal final.

If various reports are to be believed, it will likely be his final game for Die Borussen, with the Daily Mail reckoning Saturday's opponents Bayern will be his most likely destination. Indeed, the International Business Times goes further, stating that Lewandowski has told the club that he only wants to move to Bavaria.

As such, it adds a little extra spice to proceedings in the all-German clash for European supremacy. Dortmund supporters will no doubt be looking to their main man to do the damage in London, even against what are prospective future employers.

Moreover, given his current form and recent record against Bayern—five goals in his last six appearances—expect Robert Lewandowski to have a major say in the destination of the European Cup this Saturday. If he can add another match-winning performance to his growing portfolio, he'll further cement his place amongst the world's elite.