The Bundesliga heads into the mid-season break with Borussia Dortmund crowned champions of the Hinrunde, as their great start to the 2018-19 campaign sees them establish an early lead over Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich to become winter champion.
The race for the Bundesliga is the most open it has been in years, and the competition to see who will be this season’s top scorer is no different. Robert Lewandowski has lifted the Torjagerkanone trophy in three of the past five seasons and finished with nearly twice the amount of goals as the runner-up last season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s January 2018 move to Arsenal allowed Lewandowski to romp home to the top scorer title last season, with 29 goals to Nils Petersen’s 15, while Niclas Fullkrug, Mark Uth, and Kevin Volland all finished with 14. Aubameyang was just one behind these strikers despite playing just half a season.
(Note: this was written before last night’s match between Dortmund and Borussia M’gladbach).
This year, however, Lewandowski has much greater competition for the trophy and is currently sitting in joint-third himself thanks to an abundance of goals from the league’s leading teams. First place is currently jointly held by Paco Alcacer of Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic. Both players have scored 12 goals so far this season, with 10 of Alcacer’s amazingly coming from the bench as BVB boss Lucien Favre unleashes him on tired defences.
Frankfurt’s Jovic has been a revelation in a deadly attacking trio alongside Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic. Haller leads the league in assists with nine, and has nine goals of his own. Borussia Dortmund’s exciting English teenager Jadon Sancho is level with Haller’s nine assists, helping create goals for Alcacer, Reus and Dortmund’s other attackers.
Reus has scored 10 times so far this season – the same number as Lewandowski and RB Leipzig talisman Timo Werner. There are also two other players on nine goals with Haller, both Borussia Monchengladbach frontmen. Belgium winger Thorgan Hazard scored his ninth of the campaign in midweek despite missing a penalty, while Alassane Plea is often forced out wide for Gladbach, but still has a brilliant return in front of goal.
The players ahead of Lewandowski have all benefitted from scoring hat-tricks this season, but the Poland international has yet to better two goals in any one game. This is not unusual for Lewandowski, who waited until March last season to bag his first treble, and then repeated the feat just a few weeks later to ensure he ran away with the top scorer trophy.
With Bayern now in good form having sorted out their early season problems, Niko Kovac will look to Lewandowski in the second half of the season to secure another Bundesliga title. They will need him at his best to dislodge Dortmund from top spot, but the omens are good, with Lewandowski scoring 30, 30, and 29 goals in the last three seasons in Munich. Aubameyang won the top scorer trophy with 31 goals in 2016-17 and Lewandowski will be eager to better that and show that he is the best Bundesliga striker of the past decade.
However, he has a long way to go to break the single-season record. Back in 1971-72, Gerd Muller scored 40 times for Bayern Munich in the league, picking up the fourth of his seven top scorer titles. That’s if Lewandowski wins at all. The way Jovic and Alcacer are playing, you wouldn’t bet against either of them being crowned top scorer for 2018-19.