Ranking the Top 10 Contenders to Be Bundesliga Top Scorer
In Germany, the Bundesliga's top goalscorer is awarded the "Torjagerkanone" by respected sports magazine Kicker.
It seems inevitable that Bayern Munich's new striker and last year's Torjagerkanone recipient Robert Lewandowski, signed on a free transfer from rivals Borussia Dortmund, will head the German domestic league's scoring charts once again, provided he steers clear of injury. So perhaps we should ask, who will finish behind Lewandowski as Bundesliga top scorer this season?
Given that the two heavyweights, Dortmund and Bayern, have scored the most goals in the Bundesliga for the past four seasons, it is understandable that their attacking talent dominates the list.
Here we look at the contenders for Lewandowski's cannon this coming season.
The rankings are in reverse order, based on their teams' overall firepower, the players' previous Bundesliga scoring records and penalty-taking abilities.
10. Adrian Ramos
Adrian Ramos is one of the forwards acquired by Borussia Dortmund in an attempt to fill the gaping hole left by Robert Lewandowski. The Colombian World Cup striker was purchased for €9m from Hertha Berlin.
An average of a goal every other game last season (16 in 32 games) was the 28-year-old's best-ever Bundesliga return. If Ramos can match that record at Dortmund in his first season, he will have done well.
Ramos has many virtues as a hard-working striker who can hold the ball up well. However, he has never been a prolific scorer.
The reality for Dortmund fans is that Ramos will only outscore Lewandowski if the Pole misses half the season.
9. Ciro Immobile
No pressure, Ciro, just go and replace Lewandowski.
Ciro Immobile is Borussia Dortmund's new number nine. The 24-year-old was the top scorer in Italy's Serie A last season, firing 22 goals in 33 games for Torino. That scoring pedigree persuaded Dortmund to make the Italian their marquee signing at €18.5m.
Despite the weighty transfer fee, it's going to be nigh on impossible for Immobile to match his scoring feats in Italy, at least in the initial stages.
This is a Dortmund side shorn of its main goalscorer (Lewandowski) that has languished behind Bayern by a huge distance over the past two league seasons.
He will do well to exceed 15 league goals during his first season plying his trade overseas.
8. Josip Drmic
Twenty-one-year-old striker Josip Drmic scored 17 goals for relegated Nurnberg last season, putting him third in the charts behind Robert Lewandowski and Mario Mandzukic from the Bundesliga's big guns.
Drmic's scoring feats in a struggling side—Nurnberg only managed 37 goals all season—persuaded Bayer Leverkusen to sign the Swiss World Cup star for €6m. He will form a potent partnership with the tried and tested Stefan Kiessling.
Back Drmic to deliver during his debut season at Leverkusen and match his Nurnberg numbers, while providing able support to Kiessling.
7. Marco Reus
Marco Reus is in a race to be fit for the start of the season. He had to sit out Germany's outstanding World Cup-winning campaign after picking up a cruel injury on the eve of the tournament.
That heartbreak will give the 25-year-old extra motivation for another magnificent club season with Borussia Dortmund.
When fit, Reus will resume penalty-taking duties in a Dortmund side that has scored more than 80 goals in the past three Bundesliga campaigns.
Last season, Reus fired 16 goals in 30 games, with a 100 per cent penalty conversion record (six from six).
He can improve on that record in 2014-15 and take on Robert Lewandowski's mantle to become Dortmund's leading scorer.
6. Adam Szalai
Hungarian hitman Adam Szalai will be the main striker at free-scoring Hoffenheim, with 20 goals a realistic aim.
Markus Gisdol's men scored 72 goals last season, a tally only bettered by Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern and Dortmund.
The 26-year-old was signed for €6m from Schalke, where he failed to set the world alight. However, Szalai has good pedigree as a former Real Madrid reserve.
He should thrive on the assists of Roberto Firmino and Kevin Volland and hit the heights for Hoffenheim.
5. Pierre-Michel Lasogga
Pierre-Michel Lasogga definitely has the talent to be top scorer, the main question is whether the 22-year-old striker can last the course of a season.
Thirteen goals in 20 games while on loan at hapless Hamburg was quite an achievement last season. However, the bulky forward did miss 14 games and suffered with injuries during his spell with former club Hertha Berlin.
After a €8.5m move from the capital, Lasogga is now a permanent fixture at HSV. Mirko Slomka's men are sure to improve on their woeful campaign last time around.
Provided he stays fit, Lasogga will break the 20-goal barrier and into the Germany squad for the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
4. Claudio Pizarro
Besides Lewandowski, Claudio Pizarro is Bayern's only other recognised striker in the first-team squad and will likely be the grateful replacement should the unthinkable happen to Lewandowski. That is why he is so high up the list.
The 35-year-old Peruvian would arguably be a regular starter at most other clubs in the league, having amassed 176 goals in 370 Bundesliga appearances during his spells at Werder Bremen and Bayern.
The likes of Arjen Robben, Mario Goetze and Thomas Mueller will play more of a part in Pep Guardiola's planning should Lewandowski be sidelined for European action.
However, in domestic competition, Pep will predominately play with a striker, and Pizarro is a more than useful back-up for Lewandowski.
He is ranked ninth on the all-time Bundesliga scoring list (with scope to move up four places this season), and is also the record foreign scorer in league history.
Last season, Pizarro poached 10 league goals in a mere 684 minutes on the pitch. ''Pizza'' always delivers.
3. Stefan Kiessling
Stefan Kiessling knows where the back of the net is.
The 30-year-old is a proven Bundesliga scorer. He is currently ranked 24th on the all-time scoring list, having notched 126 goals in 311 league outings for Nurnberg and his present club Bayer Leverkusen.
Kiessling saw off the challenge of a certain Robert Lewandowski to win the Torjagerkanone in 2012-13 with 25 league goals for Leverkusen.
The former Germany international is sure to be spurred on by the arrival of new strike partner Josip Drmic, but Kiessling will remain the main goal getter for the "Werkself" and 20 goals is a realistic target.
2. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is another potent striker who knows how to win this prize.
In the 2011-12 season, Huntelaar amassed a startling 29 goals in 32 games (including seven spot-kicks) for his club Schalke 04.
Last season, the 30-year-old was left reeling by a knee injury. He could only start just over half of Schalke's league games, but he still managed to register 12 goals.
The Dutch World Cup striker is now fully fit and raring to go. Jefferson Farfan is injured, so Huntelaar is likely to resume penalty-taking duties, which will further boost his goal tally.
If anything untoward should happen to Lewandowski, the "Hunter" is the prime candidate to take advantage and score the minimum of 25 goals it is going to take to secure the Bundesliga's prestigious scoring prize.
1. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski has notched 20 goals or more in his last three league campaigns at Borussia Dortmund. He should comfortably surpass a personal best of 24 goals in 2012-13, especially if he assumes penalty-taking duties in Munich.
The Polish striker is quite simply the best in the Bundesliga, and he will now lead the line at the league's standout team, Bayern Munich.
Lewandowski was snatched away on a free transfer from rivals Dortmund, where he signed off as the league's top scorer with 20 goals in 33 appearances.
Adding the lethal Lewandowski to a Bayern side that has fired over 90 league goals in their past two title-winning seasons, must be a scary proposition for the rest of the Bundesliga.
It seems a foregone conclusion that "Lewi" will see off all contenders and retain his title—provided he remains injury free.
Follow Mark Lovell @LovellLowdown