Robert Lewandowski is, in all likelihood, going to lead Europe’s top leagues in goals this season, having matched German top-flight royalty with his 40th goal of the season on Saturday at Freiburg.
The Polish international celebrated the goal by lifting his jersey to wear a shirt with Gerd Muller’s face and the message “4VER Gerd,” having met the former Bayern striker’s 49-year-old record and earning a guard of honor from his teammates in the process.
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Bayern’s star center forward can stand alone atop the single-season Bundesliga list If he scores again, with a final day match-up still to come versus Augsburg.
He’s also going to open next season with the ability to match Muller’s record for Torjägerkanone, a sixth-season leading Germany in scoring that’s just one behind the Fort Lauderdale Strikers alum (how often is Gerd Muller referred to as a former NASL player, we humbly ask?).
How many have scored 40 goals in a top European league season? The list is not terribly long as no Premier League Golden Boot winner or Serie A capocannoniere honoree has hit the 40 mark…
Barring absurd runs from Lionel Messi (29 goals) or Cristiano Ronaldo (28), Lewandowski will become the first Golden Shoe winner from outside La Liga, Serie A, and the Premier League since 2001-02, and the first from Germany since Muller claimed his second after the 1971-72 season.
We’ve said this before but Lewandowski’s incredible career has somehow been downgraded due to existing in two realms of the same world: one with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and another where Bayern’s dominance of the Bundesliga has overshadowed his work. At least in recent seasons, he’s at-worst on par with Ronaldo. And that’s only out of respect for the Portuguese’s entire body of work.
Bayern Munich's players and coaching staff paid tribute to Lewandowski after his record-matching goal.
Lewa's face when he realised 😅 pic.twitter.com/F6Heo5EXiO
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 15, 2021
Heck, let’s include Golden Shoe winners just to make a longer list!
Forty-plus goal domestic seasons in top European leagues
50 — Lionel Messi, 2011-12, Barcelona
48 — Cristiano Ronaldo, 2014-15, Real Madrid
47 — Dudu Georgescu, 1976-77, Dinamo Bucarest (Romania)
46 — Hector Yazalde, 1973-74, Sporting Lisbon
46 — Lionel Messi, 2012-13, Barcelona
46 — Cristiano Ronaldo, 2011-12, Real Madrid
44 — Josip Skoblar, 1970-71, Marseille
43 — Dorin Mateut, 1988-98, Dinamo Bucarest (Romania)
43 — David Taylor, 1993-94, Porthmadog (Wales)
48 — Lionel Messi, 2014-15, Barcelona
42 — Eusebio, 1967-68, Benfica
42 — Mario Jardel, 2001-02, Sporting Lisbon
41 — Hans Krankl, 1977-78, Rapid Vienna (Austria)
40 — Gerd Muller, 1969-70, Bayern Munich
40 — Gerd Muller, 1972-73, Bayern Munich
40 — Eusebio, 1972-73, Benfica
40 — Zviad Endeladze, 1995-96, Margveti (Georgia)
40 — Cristiano Ronaldo, 2010-11, Real Madrid
40 — Luis Suarez, 2015-16, Barcelona
40 — Robert Lewandowski, 2020-21, Bayern Munich