Breaking Down How Robert Lewandowski Will Fit In At Bayern Munich

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21:  Robert Lewandowski looks on during a Borussia Dortmund training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group F match against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on October 21, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Robert Lewandowski's pre-contract move to Bayern Munich may already be the biggest piece of news to come from this month's transfer window.

Yet while we must wait until next season to see the Polish striker in the Bavarian red, speculation as to how the forward will fit in to a squad already bursting with talent has become to pick up pace. 

The interesting aspect of this situation that will eventually come to light at Bayern this summer is just how they will comprehend keeping both Lewandowski and current striker Mario Mandzukic content as they juggle both players with just one starting spot. 

The initial reaction to the news of Lewandowski's future signing was that of slight disbelief from many fans who naturally responded by defending the fact that Mandzukic has been a more than adequate frontman as the side conquered not only the German Bundesliga but the European Champions League as well.

Yet with the arrival of Pep Guardiola this season came the turning tide on Mandzukic's prominence at the Bavarian club. In came Mario Gotze and with him the fixation regarding Pep's insistence on an irregular frontman, usually depicted as a false number nine, which the young German fitted perfectly. 

We now know that Guardiola's ploy to dislodge the Croatian striker from his perch was a long and calculated plan to make way for the coming Polish striker to take his place next summer.

But is Lewandowski going to offer anything different to what Bayern already have with Mandzukic?

The great irony in all this is that Mandzukic is getting shoved out of the back door in the exact same manner that Mario Gomez received when the ex-Wolfsburg striker arrived at Bayern. Gomez was seen as one-dimensional and so was replaced by a more complex striker.

Now, 12 months on, that is exactly what is happening to Mandzukic. 

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

As we take a look at the common motions that Bayern's front line goes through in any given game, with Mandzukic up front we see that the Croatian striker is very conventional with his movement. Although he is far from a poacher, it's clear from the heat map to distinguish where the Hamburg back line usually stood as Mandzukic regularly jogged along it. 

As Bayern attacked, the striker would either cut left or right depending on where the ball was coming from. An expert at dragging centre-backs to either wing but a little basic in his movement. 

Image Courtesy of
Image Courtesy of

Now if we were to take a look at Lewandowski's heat map from a recent game against Mainz, we see that the Pole's movement is completely different. Where Mandzukic would always play off the last defender and move in a horizontal sense along the opposition back line, the Dortmund striker clearly enjoys drifting throughout the opposition half whilst staying very central.

This may be exactly why Guardiola prefers the Polish striker over his own Croatian goalscorer. In a Bayern side that is striving to master the Catalonian school of total possession, the aforementioned role of the false number nine is imperative: an attacking player who can seamlessly move between midfield and the front line of the attack.

From the two heat maps above, it's clear to all just which striker would suit this role more. Although Lewandowski is very much a striker in his own sense, he has that natural inclination to fall deep in to the No. 10 role alongside Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze. 

As such, we can fully expect the current Dortmund front man to lead the line for Bayern next season with the same knack for goalscoring that has seen him become one of the most coveted strikers in the world.

And Guardiola continues his tireless work to turn the Bavarian club into a side in his own image with Lewandowski as his next prized signing.