Bayern Munich won their Bundesliga opener against Wolfsburg on Friday, but the 2-1 victory could have been much sweeter for Robert Lewandowski.
The Poland international and marquee signing of the summer transfer window was unable to put his name on the scoresheet for a third consecutive competitive game, leaving him yet to break his scoring duck in non-friendly competition since his move to the Allianz Arena in July.
For the second consecutive game, Lewandowski looked nervous in clear scoring situations. Of all of Bayern’s players, he’ll be under the most pressure heading into the second matchday of the Bundesliga season.
Unlike many Bayern players, Lewandowski missed the World Cup and had a full preseason to prepare for his first campaign in Munich. And to his credit, he hit the ground running. The ex-Dortmund man scored in his first friendly and maintained a sensational run of form throughout the preseason, efficiently scoring from half chances and adding some wonder goals as well. Lewandowski’s strikes underlined his versatility, coming via soft touch and power; raw force and accuracy.
Since the coming of the games that count, however, the form Lewandowski had previously tapped has run dry. He was manhandled by former BVB teammate Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the DFL-Superpokal and had little luck against third-division side Preussen Munster in Bayern’s DFB-Pokal opener. Granted a gift in the closing moments, he rather tamely fired a spot-kick hardly wide of center and with little power. Daniel Masuch saved it with surprisingly little trouble.
On Friday, Lewandowski’s best chance was a one-on-one with goalkeeper Max Grun, but the forward looked as though he’d overthought his task and was denied by the Wolfsburg stopper. Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben were the stars of the show, impressing especially due to their limited time in training following the World Cup. In fact, Robben played a direct part in both goals and was a constant threat, despite the Wolfsburg match being his first appearance for Bayern since May.
Having scored over 100 goals at Dortmund and with his arrival having effectively sent fan favorite Mario Mandzukic packing, Lewandowski knows that expectations for him at Bayern are high. He developed a reputation at BVB for having ice-cold nerves, the patience and finesse to create the highest-percentage of shots out of any scoring opportunity and to make the right runs and touches leading up to a goal for himself or a teammate.
It took slightly over one full season to develop, but the reigning Bundesliga top scorer was efficient and deadly for the majority of his final three seasons at the Signal Iduna Park. He’ll need to recover his calmness and killer instinct if he is to be a success in Munich.
The good news for Lewandowski and Bayern fans is that the player has the pedigree of a champion. And as the striker said (per Goal.com) after the Wolfsburg game, the goals will come. He’s a Bundesliga top scorer, two-time German league and one-time DFB-Pokal winner and single-handedly demolished European giants Real Madrid with four goals in a Champions League semifinal.
Lewandowski is a complete striker with the ability to influence games without hitting the target (as he did against Wolfsburg—playing a big role in one goal that he neither assisted nor scored), who is also a proven, lethal goalscorer. It won’t take much for him to get his confidence back. When he does, Bundesliga defenders will tremble with fear.