The Leroy Sane saga

By Sports Desk July 02, 2020

The Manchester City winger has certainly been in the headlines over the past 12 months.

Related items

  • Robert Lewandowski: The inner workings of a goalscoring machine Robert Lewandowski: The inner workings of a goalscoring machine

    With the announcement that the 2020 Ballon d'Or will not be awarded this year due to the coronavirus-enforced break in play, Robert Lewandowski will feel pretty hard done by.

    By the end of June, Lewandowski's goals had propelled Bayern Munich to a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double. His goals in the league (34 in total) made him the highest single-season foreign goalscorer in history. With another six goals in the Pokal – including two in the final to seal the deal in a 4-2 win against Bayer Leverkusen – and 11 more in the Champions League, Lewandowski has scored more goals in all competitions than any other player across Europe's top five leagues this season. 

    For Lewandowski, it has been undoubtedly the best season of his career. Remarkably, the 31-year-old is averaging a goal every 74 minutes and he has already scored 11 more than last year and eight more than in his previous personal best (43 goals in 2016-17).

    The consistency of Lewandowski's production is phenomenal. Since 2015-16, he has scored 40 or more goals in every season. The only player who has kept pace with the Pole is a certain Lionel Messi, but the Barcelona star will need to score an unlikely 10 more times to hit the 40-goal milestone in 2019-20.

    In his 285 competitive games for Bayern, Lewandowski has hit a total of 242 goals, averaging a goal every 99 minutes. This is a goalscoring machine at its best.

    Lewandowski has taken his game to another level this season. After being the top scorer in the Bundesliga (34) and in the Pokal (6), the Bayern marksman is also the leading scorer in the Champions League (11). He could become the first player since Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002-03 to take home a hat-trick of golden boots in league, cup and European action. Neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi have ever achieved this.

    So, what's his secret?

    ELITE IN THE BOX

    Since joining Bayern back in 2014, Lewandowski has increased his expected goals (xG) total each season. This campaign, he is averaging a staggering 1.1 xG every 90 minutes. Put simply, the chances Lewandowski attempts are worth over one goal every game. This figure is nearly double as many as in his first season at Bayern (0.6). His consistently high xG values show that his impressive goal tally is not just a product of overperforming, but rather the result of generating good goalscoring opportunities.

    Year after year, Lewandowski gets himself in better goalscoring positions. He has perfected the art of creating space and chances for himself in crucial areas of the pitch. The below graphic illustrates this perfectly: look at the cluster of shots he has taken in this season's Champions League.

    In the current Champions League campaign, no player has scored as many non-penalty goals (10) or taken shots from higher quality chances (8.6 xG) as Lewandowski. As the size of the dots shows, Lewandowski is mainly taking shots from good-quality locations with a high xG value and avoids shooting from further afield.

    THE COMPLETE FORWARD

    Lewandowski is the target man in Bayern's attack, but he is far more than a poacher – he is a crucial cog in their build-up play.

    In the 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign, Lewandowski was involved in a league-high 43 open-play sequences that ended with a goal. If we remove those sequences in which Lewandowski himself scored (27), he was involved in 16 open-play sequences that ended in a goal scored by one of his team-mates, the highest value among all strikers in the competition.

    Indeed, while Lewandowski has registered only four assists in the latest Bundesliga season, we can use expected assists (xA) to analyse how many assists Lewandowski should have had based on the quality of his passes. According to this metric, Lewandowski's open-play passes in the recent league season were worth seven assists, so he was unfortunate not to have three more assists to add to his total of four.

    His total of 7.1 xA this campaign is his highest tally.  The 31-year-old has massively improved his creative abilities over the past two years, nearly increasing his xA value threefold (he registered 2.8 xA in 2017-18).

    A complete forward, Lewandowski works for the team, creates chances for his team-mates and is heavily involved in build-up play. Bayern's last Champions League game in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie with Chelsea can be used as an ideal example of Lewandowski's all-around qualities. He was everywhere.

    Lewandowski's touches at Stamford Bridge on February 25 (from left to right)

    In that game, Lewandowski recorded two assists in a single Champions League match for the first time in his career, assisting the first two Bayern goals for Serge Gnabry before scoring the last himself to seal a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge. 

    Perhaps 2020 would have been Lewandowski's best chance to become just the second player other than Messi and Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or since 2008, but the way his game is improving every season – coupled with the inevitable decline of Messi and Ronaldo – means the Poland goalscoring machine will likely have another crack at the accolade in 2021 and beyond.

  • Juve look to Ronaldo as Guardiola guns for Madrid once more - Champions League in Opta numbers Juve look to Ronaldo as Guardiola guns for Madrid once more - Champions League in Opta numbers

    Juventus and Real Madrid will fight for their Champions League futures needing to come from behind on Friday.

    Madrid were ahead in their last-16 tie against Manchester City, but a Kevin De Bruyne penalty secured a 2-1 advantage that the Premier League side will defend at the Etihad Stadium.

    Juve sealed their ninth consecutive Serie A title last month but stumbled towards the end of the domestic campaign.

    Maurizio Sarri will look towards the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo on his favourite stage as they seek to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Lyon in Turin.

    As those four sides eye up a place in the final stages in Lisbon, here are key Opta facts.

    Juventus v Lyon

    0 - Juventus are unbeaten in their two home European games against Lyon, winning 2-1 in the Europa League in April 2014 and drawing 1-1 in the Champions League in November 2016.

    - Lyon have lost four of their past five European matches in Italy (D1 L4) since winning 2-1 at Fiorentina in the Champions League in November 2008. They are also winless in 10 away knockout games since beating PSV in February 2006, failing to score in six of those.

    18 - Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in his last 12 home Champions League knockout matches, with this run including four hat-tricks. He claimed the matchball when Juve overturned a first-leg deficit at the same stage against Atletico Madrid last season.

    - Since the start of last season only Memphis Depay (10) has been involved in more Champions League goals for Lyon than Houssem Aouar (one goal and six assists). The 22-year-old Aouar has as many assists as Lionel Messi in the competition during that period.

    Manchester City v Real Madrid

    5 - Madrid have won five of their 11 away Champions League games in England (W5 D3 L3), beating four different teams (Manchester United, Leeds United, Liverpool and Spurs). The only two teams to win away at five or more different English teams in the Champions League are Bayern Munich (five) and Barcelona (seven).

    28 - Pep Guardiola has won 28 Champions League knockout matches, more than any other manager in the competition’s history. The City boss is looking to become the third manager to eliminate Madrid in the knockout stage more than once, along with Marcello Lippi (1995-96, 2002-03) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (2000-01, 2006-07).

    12 - Zinedine Zidane could be eliminated from a Champions League knockout tie for the first time, having been victorious in the previous 12. Zidane has won just two of his six Champions League games against English teams.

    14 - Gabriel Jesus headed City's equaliser at the Santiago Bernabeu. He has been directly involved in 14 goals in 16 Champions League starts (12 goals, two assists), finding the net in three of his four starts in the knockout stages.

  • Rumour Has It: Aubameyang set to sign new Arsenal deal Rumour Has It: Aubameyang set to sign new Arsenal deal

    Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future has dominated headlines.

    With Aubameyang due to become a free agent in 2021, Arsenal have been desperate to re-sign the Gabon international.

    Now, it looks like the 31-year-old will remain at Emirates Stadium for an extended period.

     

    TOP STORY – AUBAMEYANG TO SIGN NEW DEAL

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is close to signing a new three-year contract with Arsenal, according to The Telegraph.

    Aubameyang's current deal is due to expire next year and the Arsenal star has been linked to LaLiga giants Barcelona, as well as Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

    But Aubameyang is set to sign a deal that will run until 2023, a two-year extension.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Journalist Fabrizio Romano claims it is only a matter of time before Willian signs a contract with Arsenal until 2023. Chelsea midfielder Willian is free to talk to clubs as his deal at Stamford Bridge expires. The Gunners are also eyeing Thomas Partey but Atletico Madrid insist the midfielder will not leave unless his £45million (€50m) release clause is paid.

    Paul Pogba is happy at Manchester United and is ready to sign a new contract, reports Romano. Pogba has been previously linked to former club Juventus and LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

    - Staying at Old Trafford, and The Guardian claims United will listen to offers for Jesse Lingard as they try to prise Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. United and Dortmund are still negotiating a transfer for Sancho, according to widespread reports.

    Edinson Cavani could be poised to join Brazilian outfit Atletico Mineiro, reports Globo Esporte. The 33-year-old Uruguay international is a free agent after leaving PSG. Cavani has been linked to Portuguese giants Benfica, newly promoted Premier League team Leeds United, MLS outfit Inter Miami, Atletico and Inter.

    Everton are interested in signing Atletico's Thomas Lemar, says Le10Sport. Carlo Ancelotti's Everton are also hoping to bring United full-back Diego Dalot to Goodison Park, reports The Mirror.

    - According to The Athletic, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is set to join Tottenham from Southampton. Spurs will pay £19m for the former Bayern Munich midfielder.

    Liverpool will have to pay close to £20m for Norwich City left-back Jamal Lewis after the Premier League champions had a £10m offer rejected, says The Guardian.

    David Silva looks set to move to Lazio. According to Sky Sport Italia, the Manchester City midfielder – a free agent – will swap the Premier League for Serie A following the club's Champions League campaign.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.