How close can Robert Lewandowski get to Gerd Müller’s 40-goal Bundesliga record? The answer to that and much more will be revealed on the final day of the 2019/20 season.
Lewandowski moved on to 33 Bundesliga goals for the current campaign with his brace in champions FC Bayern München’s 3-1 win over SC Freiburg, breaking the single-season goals record for a non-German, previously held by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With a seven-goal lead on RB Leipzig counterpart Timo Werner, the 31-year-old is almost certain to land a third successive Torjägerkanone and fifth overall. Only the legendary Müller has claimed three in a row – a historic run that began with a fabled 40-goal return in 1971/72.
It’s fair to assume Lewandowski would have been a lot closer to Der Bomber’s longstanding best-mark, had he not missed a handful of league games – but if he can score a Guinness world record-breaking five goals in nine minutes as he did against upcoming opponents VfL Wolfsburg back in September 2015, he can rattle off at least seven in 90. It’s basic mathematics.
Wolfsburg shouldn’t need any help from the abacus at the Volkswagen-Arena. The Wolves are already guaranteed a place in next season’s UEFA Europa League but need to match or better TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s result at Borussia Dortmund to secure direct entry into the competition’s group stage. Failure to do so will mean a long, hard slog through the various qualifying rounds, with Hoffenheim accompanying the Bundesliga’s fifth-placed team into the groups.
As things stand, the fifth-place belongs to Bayer 04 Leverkusen following their 2-0 loss to Hertha Berlin a week ago. Peter Bosz’s side now needs to beat 1. FSV Mainz 05 and hope Borussia Mönchengladbach lose at home to Hertha in order to climb back into the top four and reach the UEFA Champions League groups at the 11th hour. A Gladbach win or even a draw – given their vastly superior goal difference – will render Die Werkself’s efforts academic and send them into the Europa League.
Leipzig is all but assured of their place alongside Bayern and Dortmund in next season’s Champions League, but need to match Gladbach’s result to finish third in what will be Chelsea-bound Werner’s final game for the club. Hosts FC Augsburg have nothing to play for, much like Freiburg – who take on a mid-table FC Schalke 04 outfit on a club-record 16-game winless run – and Eintracht Frankfurt in their meeting with already relegated SC Paderborn 07.
Who joins Paderborn in Germany’s second tier will be decided on Saturday. Outright survival is beyond Fortuna Düsseldorf, but a shot at redemption via the relegation play-offs is theirs to lose. With a two-point cushion and a marginally superior goal difference on the automatic drop zone, Düsseldorf can only slip through the net if SV Werder Bremen beat 1. FC Köln and they lose at 1. FC Union Berlin, or if they don’t take maximum points and Bremen win by a four-goal margin.
It could be an agonizing afternoon for Bremen, whose only previous relegation since entering the Bundesliga as a founding member came in 1979/80. For Bundesliga legend Claudio Pizarro – set to play the final game of his goal-laden career spanning over two decades – automatic relegation would be the worst possible send-off. Suffice to say the Green-Whites have never needed a ‘Piza’ delivery more than now.
Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Alphonso Davies and the Bundesliga-based players on the Golden Boy 2020 shortlist
You can read about Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Alphonso Davies and the Bundesliga-based players on the Golden Boy 2020 shortlist right here