5 Bold Predictions for Robert Lewandowski's Debut Season with Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich's marquee signing of the summer transfer window could not have come at a lower price. Robert Lewandowski joined the Bavarian giants on July 1 on a free transfer, after his contract with Borussia Dortmund expired.
The Bundesliga's top scorer in 2013-14 and three-time Polish Footballer of the Year has hit the ground running at Bayern, scoring with some clever, technically masterful finishes during preseason matches with Duisburg and Moenchengladbach. And he certainly has much more to offer over the course of his five-year contract with the Munich giants.
Ahead of the 2014-15 season, B/R has looked into its crystal ball and made some predictions for Lewandowski in his debut season. Click "Begin Slideshow" for a full analysis.
He'll Start off Slowly
Lewandowski is a world-class striker but even the best footballers sometimes take a few weeks or more to get settled in at a club like Bayern. Mario Goetze, for example, went from world-class at Dortmund in 2012-13 to something less than that upon his arrival in Munich.
Bayern play differently from Dortmund, and Lewandowski will have different teammates and can expect to have a somewhat different role in Pep Guardiola's team. Expectations will be high, but despite his blistering preseason form, he might not deliver immediately once the season begins—this is especially possible with many stars still yet to return from World Cup duty.
Once Lewandowski hits form, be it in Bundesliga matchday one or a later date, he'll surely be a huge star for Bayern. Just don't assume that will be immediately.
He'll End Dortmund's Title Hopes
There is little Dortmund would want to do more than pip Bayern to the Bundesliga title, and the only chance they realistically stand of doing so involves beating the Bavarian giants head-to-head. The problem they face is, they will be up against two of their best former players in Lewandowski and Goetze.
Last fall, Dortmund were in tremendous form in August, September and October and remained in the title race until around the time they faced Bayern. Against the Munich giants, they kept a clean sheet until Goetze came on as a second-half substitute. Minutes later, the ex-BVB man scored. Bayern went on to win 3-0. If the title hadn't been decided before, Bayern certainly won it that day.
Lewandowski could well repeat Goetze's feat in 2013-14. The Polish striker has a knack for the dramatic and will be Bayern's primary source of goals in any case. Whether in the fall or the spring, he may well be the man to end Dortmund's bid to reclaim the Bundesliga title for the first time since 2012.
He'll Make Sergio Ramos and Pepe Want to Retire
Bayern could have used the services of Lewandowski against Real Madrid last season when they were knocked out of the Champions League by a 5-0 aggregate score. Although Mario Mandzukic offered no shortage of physicality, the Bavarians were lacking a killer presence in the penalty area.
Should they face Real Madrid again in 2014-15, Bayern will have a weapon who will strike fear into the hearts of defenders like Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. In his career, Lewandowski has faced Los Blancos five times. He's scored as many goals as games he's played against Real, plus he assisted two more.
Lewandowski has proven to be an absolute nightmare for Real, his four-goal tally against the tournament's record champions in the first leg of the 2012-13 Champions League semi-final being the crowning achievement of his career to date. It was a historic performance and one that Ramos, Pepe, Varane and Fabio Coentrao will never forget. Lewandowski may not match the same tally if Bayern face Real again this season, but he could well run rampant and deliver another humiliation.
He'll Score 40 Goals
Lewandowski became a tremendously prolific striker at Dortmund, averaging over 30 goals per season in his last three years at the Signal-Iduna Park. In 2012-13 he scored 36 times, a career-high, in 49 games in all competitions.
This season at Bayern, Lewandowski could play as many as 54 games (34 in the Bundesliga, 13 in the Champions League, six in the DFB-Pokal and one in the DFB Superpokal). He'll be reunited with the playmaker Goetze, as well as the ever-creative Franck Ribery.
Bayern have many scoring threats, but Goetze and Ribery are more providers than scorers and Lewandowski will be the main target man in any case. A strong and creative Bayern midfield transformed Mario Mandzukic from an eight-to-12 goal-per-season striker at Wolfsburg into the scorer of 22 and 26 goals in his two seasons in Munich. Lewandowski can expect a ton of chances at Bayern; if he delivers, he could well exceed 40 goals in 2014-15.
He'll Assist Half as Many Goals as He Scores
Lewandowski is a finisher above all things, but he also is a technically gifted player who can assist goals as well. He actually played as a supporting striker in his first season at the Signal-Iduna Park, just behind main target man Lucas Barrios.
Per Transfermarkt, Lewandowski has scored 17 goals and assisted eight more in the Champions League during his career. And although he found the net significantly more than he played the final ball in previous seasons, his tally of 15 assists and 28 goals in the 2013-14 season is demonstrative of how unselfish he is as a provider.
At Bayern, Lewandowski will have the likes of Arjen Robben and Thomas Mueller to feed. His teammates are lethal scorers; suffice to say, the Poland international should record a substantial number of assists. Maybe even half as many as he scores.