Aubameyang has surprised me: Bayern striker Lewandowski

Munich, March 4 (IANS) Millions of football fans around the world are eagerly awaiting the Bundesliga’s clash between second-placed Borussia Dortmund and front-runners Bayern Munich on Saturday evening. Not only are Germany’s top two clubs crossing swords but two of Europe’s best strikers will be plying their trades.

The thrilling duel is a duel between Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski. Having scored a total of 45 goals after 23rd round of matches, a new record for the Bundesliga, both are inked on the lists of several of Europe’s leading clubs (like Real Madrid), reports Xinhua.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, the Bundesliga’s leading scorer, Lewandowski, talked about the threat Aubameyang is posing and the upcoming encounter in the Champions League against Juventus Turin on March 16.

A look at Europe’s goal scorer list shows: The men from Gabon and the Pole are to the fore among the “Who is who” when it comes to goals. Jonas (Benfica Lisbon) in Portugal’s top league (26 goals) is followed by Luis Suarez (Barcelona/25) and Gonzalo Higuain (SSC Napoli/25), Lewandowski (23), Zlatan Ibrahimovic(Paris St. German/23), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/22) and Aubameyang (21).

“He is a surprise to me as well,” said 27-year-old Lewandowski about his 26-year-old rival. “He for sure is one of Europe’s fastest strikers. It’s difficult to keep up with him over the first 10 to 20 metres. If he gets pass you, you can forget about him. There’s no chance of catching him again.”

But Lewandowski not only admires Aubameyang’s incredible turn of speed but his special skills in the box.

“Aubameyang finds the smallest gaps in the box. Give him an inch of space and you are lost. In addition he and his teammates get well together. They know they can rely on Aubameyang. He was a class act last year but this season he is on a world class level.”

Aubameyang can challenge Lewandowski when it comes to finishing the Bundesliga season as the leading goalscorer. Additionally the French-born Gabon might be a man for the “Golden Boot”, Europe’s award for the best goal-getter; Lewandowski too and not only because he managed to score five goals within the space of nine minutes against VfL Wolfsburg (5-1) in September 2015.

For many Bayern’s success is not only down to the 2014 World Champion Thomas Mueller (17 league goals and six in the Champions League), Arjen Robben or Franck Ribery. It is Lewandowski who makes Munich happy, and a threat to all opponents in Europe.

Behind Ronaldo (Real/12 goals), the Polish striker lies second in the Champions League scorer list (seven goals). Lionel Messi and Suarez follow with five.

Lewandowski said: “At the moment I’m not thinking a lot about the German scorer crown or the Golden Boot. However to win one or both competitions would be a dream.”

Most pundits agree that they are seeing the best ever Lewandowski.

“I feel healthy and I am in great shape. And I pay tribute to my teammates like Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, (Kingsley) Coman and Douglas Costa. I get many passes from the flanks. Talking about Thomas Mueller, it is a special relationship. Thomas knows exactly where I move to and the other way around. We live from our instinct as footballers,” he reflected.

Lewandowski is eager to beat Dortmund and take another step towards the fourth consecutive German title, a first in Bundesliga history. “It’s going to be a very special and incredible game. I wouldn’t want to miss it as a football fan. We recently won in Dortmund and we want to repeat it. But it is far from done for us when it comes to the title,” he aspired.

After having lost at home against Mainz (1-2), Bayern are only five points ahead. Losing in Dortmund would mean to stay at the top by only two.

Right after league clash, Italy’s Juventus are waiting in the round of the last 16 of the Champions League.

“I expect Juve to play a similar style as they did in the first leg. A defensive game plan but very patient. I hope we manage to score an early goal, maybe a second one, then Juve would have to open up. In the first match, we showed Juve has trouble when we close them out at the back,” said Lewandowski.

Due to the injuries to Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber and Javier Martinez, the defense seems to be a problem for the 2013 Champions League winner. Has Bayern lost its right to exist among the inner circle of favourites to win this season’s Champions League?

“If everybody was fit, we’d definitely be in with a very good chance. Looking at the current situation though, we might be less strong. At the moment, Barcelona is in great form and the top favourite. To say it again: At the moment, it might be too early to say which team is most likely to walk off with the trophy. We’ll have to see if Barcelona can keep its great form in the coming months. And we are expecting some of our injured players to return. Then you ask me again,” Lewandowski said with a big smile in his face.

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