Robert Lewandowski said after he scored four in Bayern’s Champions League thrashing: “I have to confess, I’m addicted to scoring.” There can be no doubt that he is the best out-and-out striker in the world right now.
You have to feel for Harry Kane and Karim Benzema. Kane’s double for Tottenham against Olympiacos made it 23 goals from as many games this season, and Benzema’s brace against Paris Saint-Germain was his 14th in 17.
Both amazing records, both world-class strikers, and both scoring goals for teams that have struggled to hit top gear. Unfortunately for them, both Champions League performances were outshone by the sheer brilliance of Bayern’s number nine, who was simultaneously, single-handedly putting Red Star Belgrade to the sword. Even on a night when Kane became the fastest player to reach 20 Champions League goals, he wasn’t the story.
Robert Lewandowski’s four goals for Bayern in the Serbian capital was the fastest quadruple in the history of the Champions League, stopping the clock at 14 minutes and 31 seconds. The Pole joins an exclusive list of players to have scored four on more than one occasion in the Champions League. That list has two players on it. Lionel Messi, and Lewandowski.
Red Star have been the whipping boys in Champions League Group B, but the grace and supreme confidence with which Lewandowski took each of his goals — even the penalty — was something to behold. Pure instinct, and sheer ruthlessness in front of goal makes him a cut above. The pick of the bunch was a strike that the Pole stole from his Corentin Tolisso. Benjamin Pavard’s through ball was intended for his French international teammate, but Lewandowski hijacked the pass and guided the ball into the bottom corner. Tolisso’s exasperation with Bayern’s leading marksman couldn’t be hidden, but Lewandowski doesn’t care one bit.
That selfishness and single-mindedness is what makes him the best striker in the business. On his own, Lewandowski has scored more goals than all but five teams in the competition this season.
Lewandowski’s scoring record is beyond extraordinary, and even at the age of 31, he is getting better with age. His movement, finishing and hunger are all sharper now than ever before. The fact he has 27 club goals this season before the end of November is a quite frankly outrageous statistic, and already eclipses the 25 goals he scored in his first season at the club. The statistics and the superlatives are endless.
“It’s all down to how incredibly professional he is and the way he trains. He is always doing extra sessions to improve. He’s really on a run right now,” said Hansi Flick, Bayern’s interim coach, after the game. It really is that simple: a blend of natural talent, hard work and professionalism has got Lewandowski to where he is. These are traits shared by Harry Kane and Karim Benzema, but there can only be one best number 9 in the world. There can be no doubting who that is.
Leverkusen still alive
Earlier on Tuesday, Bayer Leverkusen kept their slender hopes of reaching the last 16 alive with a 2-0 win on the road at Lokomotiv Moscow. Sven Bender’s sweet volley secured the win after a comical early own goal against a unfortunate Lokomotiv side.
Peter Bosz’s side can still qualify ahead of Atletico Madrid, but the Bundesliga side must beat Juventus when they visit BayArena on December 12 in the final group-stage game.