When Robert Lewandowski arrived at Barcelona from Bayern Munich last summer, there was a mixed reception among the fans.
Although there is no denying that he has been one of the best players in the world for years, many people doubted his age and the €50 million paid for his services.
However, the 34-year-old shut them up back by hitting the ground running at Camp Nou, seamlessly fitting into Xavi’s team.
It was Xavi who persuaded Lewandowski to become the leader of his project. The Polish striker boycotted training sessions at Bayern to force an exit.
After failing to open the account in his opening game, Lewandowski scored a brace in his just second-ever game for Barca against Real Sociedad.
He then embarked on a prolific scoring streak, further indicating that he is getting better with age.
Despite suffering a shock elimination from the Champions League group stage, the Blaugrana continued their dominance in La Liga, and the Polish international has been pivotal for them.
He was La Liga’s top scorer with 13 goals – adding another five in the Champions League – before heading to the World Cup.
But there has been an evident decline in his form since the restart of the league, with Lewandowski managing only two goals in seven La Liga games.
Although he was pivotal in Barca’s Super Cup triumph – a goal and an assist in the final against Real Madrid – Lewandowksi has largely struggled to find the consistency he had during the first half of the season.
It could be attributed to Barca’s change in tactics in recent games, where Xavi has taken a more defensive approach than his go-to attacking style.
As can be seen in the games against Almeria, Real Madrid (Copa del Rey) and last night’s narrow victory over Athletic Bilbao, the Blaugrana are not taking enough chances than they used to and are trying to protect a slender lead with more emphasis on the defence.
Lewandowski looks far from his best version. For instance, when Frenkie de Jong played Lewandowski in behind Bilbao’s defence yesterday, he fluffed the opportunity with a terrible second touch.
An in-form Lewandowski would have scored it 10 out of 10, but the miss showed his low confidence level – something uncharacteristic of the Pole.
Barca will travel to Santiago Bernabeu this weekend for a mouth-watering El Clasico. They will look to extend or keep intact their nine-point lead in the La Liga table, while Los Blancos will be desperate for a victory to keep their title chances alive.
Lewandowski needs to step up as he did in the Spanish Super Cup final. He must deliver the goods if Barca are to secure a desirable result in El Clasico.
Barca got the better of Los Merengues on the previous two occasions, and Xavi be eager to continue that streak.
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