Seven months into the ‘19-’20 Bundesliga season, on 13th March 2020, the first of a series of postponements to upcoming matches began due to the COVID-19 pandemic; of course, similar was happening globally as the world attempted to contain the virus. Some leagues developed workarounds: matches behind closed doors, limited spectators where allowed, player quarantine & testing prior to matches, etc, etc. Some leagues weren’t so lucky, seeing their seasons cut short.
Players missed matches after contracting COVID, ten days of potential games (and stats) gone – not to mention the lasting effects on the body, primarily the lungs. Hard to draw a fair comparison, then. Therefore, on 20th July 2020 the Group L’Equipe – owners of France Football, the magazine which presents the Ballon d’Or – announced a clear message: THE BALLON D’OR® WILL NOT BE AWARDED IN 2020.
Who then – had the Ballon d’Or been awarded – would’ve received the honour?
We’ll let the seven-time, 2021 Ballon d’Or recipient Lionel Messi explain for us – in his 2021 Ballon d’Or acceptance speech no less: “I would also like to tell Robert (Lewandowski) that it’s an honour to compete for this award against him. I think you deserve your Ballon d’Or, last year everyone agreed that you were the winner, and France Football should award you with last year’s Ballon d’Or – you deserve it. You deserved to win it last year, so… “ Very high praise.
Let’s break down Lewa’s 2019-’20 campaign, to see why the greatest player in modern football would be so humble.
A Positive goal-to-game ratio
Lewandowski appeared in thirty-one Bundesliga games, ten Champions League, five DFB-Pokal, and one appearance in the DFL-Supercup, totalling forty-seven games.
He netted thirty-four, fifteen, six, and no goals respectively, totalling fifty-five goals – a ratio of 1.17 goals per game. With ten assists across all competitions, it brings his goal involvement-per-game even higher to 1.38; statistically, if Robert Lewandowski was on the pitch in ‘19-’20, he was guaranteed to be involved in a goal. Terrifying.
Consistent and Durable
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the combined games available to play for Lewandowski were fifty-two in all competitions. Of these, Lewandowski sat on the bench in a group stage match vs. Tottenham – a 3-1 win.
He missed three games spanning 29th February – 8th March due to a shinbone injury, and three months later he missed a game vs. Bor. M’Gladbach due to a yellow card suspension. Lewandowski couldn’t play in only four of fifty-two games, equalling a 92.3% appearance possibility – pair that with a guaranteed goal per game and it’s a wonder he even got benched for one.
Pivotal to Bayern Munich’s Treble
His aforementioned consistency and durability in tandem were crucial to Bayern’s 2019-’20 campaign. Though the team could perform in his absence – take the four games he missed, for example, all wins. It’s without doubt that a Bayern with Lewa is a happier Bayern than without.
His devastating finishing capabilities in front of the net matched with his off-the-ball intelligence make him a devil for any defence, and his abilities to build up play, hold up the ball and make the intelligent run cement him as both an invaluable asset to the team and a great influence on the general Bayern Munich playstyle.
He was the sole top goal scorer in all three competitions, the first ever. Sure, they might’ve got the treble without him, but he made it a lot damn easier.
Lewangoalski’s list of records for the season are in such abundance that they would fill a whole other article, so it’s much easier to just list them:
- First player in Bundesliga history to achieve double-goal figures after six matches, scoring his tenth in a 3-2 win over Paderborn 07.
- First player in Bundesliga history to score in each of the opening nine ten eleven matches of a season, surpassing the previous record of eight.
- Highest scoring foreign player in a Bundesliga season.
- Fastest time to score four goals in a Champions League match, netting four in under fifteen minutes.
- Second-ever player to score four goals in multiple Champions League matches.
- Equalled Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 9 away goals in the Champions League in a season.
- Second-ever player to win the European treble whilst being top scorer in all competitions, the first player to do so as the sole top scorer.
I think the stats make a seriously good case for Lewandowski, and had the Ballon d’Or not been cancelled it would be sitting in his trophy cabinet as I type this. Just to cement that though, we’ll finish with another word from Lionel: “Hopefully France Football can award you with last year’s trophy so you can take it home because you deserved to win it. It couldn’t happen due to the pandemic, but I think you deserve to have it in your house also.” Me too Lionel, me too.
Robert Lewandowski 2019/20 stats
|Date of Birth
|August 21, 1988
|Place of Birth
|1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
|Bayern Munich (Germany)
|– UEFA Champions League
|– Bundesliga Winner
|– DFB-Pokal Winner
|– UEFA Champions League Winner
|– DFL-Supercup Winner
|– UEFA Super Cup Winner
|– FIFA Club World Cup Winner