Every week at The Center Circle, we are highlighting a different player in a feature we call “On the Spot”. We’ll take a look at superstars, underrated gems, aging veterans, and young unknowns who should be known. We’ll peruse their club and international careers, taking note of their teams, statistics, and highlight reels. We’ll illuminate their strengths and weaknesses and comment on their personalities and reputations. It will be some fun. If there is anyone you want to see “On the Spot”, feel free to comment below.
One of the biggest moves of last summer saw Borussia Dortmund’s star forward Robert Lewandowski cross enemy lines and sign with international powerhouse Bayern Munich. The big Polish striker is becoming a household name with his impressive performances on both the club and international level, and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of him slowing down any time soon.
Before he established himself as one of the best players in the Bundesliga, Robert Lewandowski was playing in the third tier of Polish soccer with Znicz Pruszków. In his first year of senior action, the 18-year-old forward led the league with 15 tallies and followed it up with another dominating year in the second division with 21 goals.
These impressive displays led to Lech Poznań, a first division Polish club team, signing the big man in 2008, and also earned him a call up to the Polish national side. In his first appearance for the senior national team, Lewandowski came on as a substitute and scored a debut goal against San Marino. Domestically, the striker continued his scoring habit netting in his debut in the Polish first division, while also proving vital for Poznań’s Europa League campaign scoring four times in the competition. At the end of the season, the new signing had scored 14 times in the league, and 20 times in all competitions. He followed up this impressive debut season by scoring 18 goals in his sophomore campaign and leading the league in scoring as a 22-year-old.
The Bundesliga finally came calling in the summer of 2010 when Dortmund signed the forward for a reported €4.75 million, a price that would wind up being a bargain. The move to Germany posed an apparent learning curve as the 2010-11 season ended with Lewandowski finishing with his lowest professional tally of just nine goals in 41 appearances, but managed to earn himself a Bundesliga winners’ medal as Dortmund won the league for the first time in almost 10 years.
2011 saw the return of his scoring form, however, as an injury to Lucas Barrios gave the Polish international a chance in the starting eleven. At the end of the year, Lewandowski had scored an astounding 30 goals in all competitions for Dortmund, while also registering 10 assists. His impressive form in the 2011-12 campaign helped to retain the Bundesliga title for a strong Dortmund side, while also achieving a domestic double by winning the DFB-Pokal, the club’s first time winning the cup since 1989.
In the next two seasons, Lewandowski solidified his name in Jürgen Klopp’s starting eleven. The forward, along with players like Marco Reus and Mario Gotzë, led Dortmund to new heights and made the club a household name in the same tier as teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United. In 2012-13, the reigning league champions traveled all the way to the Champions League final, thanks to a four-goal performance from Lewandowski against Real Madrid in the previous round, where they finished as the runner-up to fellow Bundesliga side Bayern Munich. Lewandowski finished that season again surpassing the 30-goal mark with 35 tallies in all competitions for Dortmund.
After informing the club that he would not be renewing his contract past the 2013-14 season, the want-away marksman managed to still score 28 times for his current club. In his final season with Dortmund, Lewandowski helped the club to a second place finish in the league and also a runner-up finish in the DFB-Pokal, losing both of these titles to Bayern.
In the middle of the 2013-14 season, Lewandowski informed the world that he had signed a pre-contractual agreement with Bayern Munich that would tie the forward to his new club for five years effective at the end of the campaign. Lewandowski joined former-Dortmund teammate Mario Gotzë in leaving the club for the Allianz Arena and continued the apparent trend of Dortmund being unable to hold onto their best players (a trend that just ended when they resigned Marco Reus this year.)
In his first year with Bayern, Lewandowski has once again forced his way into the starting lineup starting 21 matches out of a possible 26, while coming on three times as a substitute. The change of scenery has done nothing to slow down the striker’s goal scoring as he has put away 13 strikes in the Bundesliga, with another four goals coming in the cup and Champions League. One of those 13 goals came in a 2-1 victory in Lewandowski’s first game against his former side Dortmund. Currently, Lewandowski and Bayern sit atop the Bundesliga with a commanding 10-point lead and have moved into the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Standing at a towering six feet, Lewandowski imposes himself as the target man in attack. His ability to hold the play up with his back to goal allows the rest of his team to set up in attack and retain possession. On set pieces, Lewandowski is a constant threat to get his head to the ball and find the back of the net, while also striking fear into opponents with the rocket attached to his leg that he calls a foot. In addition to his aerial prowess, the Polish striker possesses an unexpected quick pace and silky smooth touch on the ball. The combination of these skills make him one of the deadliest strikers on the planet.