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Can Robert Lewandowski rise to Kylian Mbappe challenge under Hansi Flick at Barcelona?


It’s not anywhere close to being the new Messi vs Ronaldo battle, but Mbappe vs Lewandowski will still be intriguing.

In one corner we’ll have the new kid on the Real Madrid block with an ego to match the club’s often overblown opinion of itself.

And in the other is the wily old experienced campaigner who still absolutely knows where the goal is.

It’s clear that Kylian Mbappe will strengthen Los Blancos and, most likely, win the Pichichi, however, it’s also worth taking a moment to understand where he’ll fit into the dynamic at the Santiago Bernabeu given he has an ego which has often caused problems at club and international level.

The Real Madrid dressing room, unlike Paris Saint-Germain, is full of world class players wherever you look, and frankly, the only way that Mbappe eases himself into his new surroundings is by being more humble than he’s been used to, initially at least.

FBL-FRA-ESP

Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

He can, and will be, a big personality in the dressing room, but no player is bigger than the club and he needs to remember that and remain grounded if he wants the best from the move.

Lewandowski had a sensational first season at Barca, and then an alarming drop-off in 2023/24 – and yet still managed a more than reasonable 26 goals (19 in La Liga) and nine assists for the campaign in all competitions.

With Hansi Flick being parachuted in as Barca’s next saviour, it brings striker and coach back together for the first time since a record-breaking and fruitful partnership at Bayern Munich.

Though the Polish hit-man is slower and less mobile than Flick will remember him, he still has an eye for goal.

FC Bayern Muenchen v FC Schalke 04 - Bundesliga

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

In total over the two seasons that they were together in Bavaria, Lewandowski hit 83 goals in just 71 games, which included a record-breaking 41 goals in 29 games during the 2020/21 season.

We can expect much more of a focus on Lewy as the leader of the line in 2024/25, with the team likely set up to feed him at every opportunity.

Far too often last season, Raphinha and Lamine Yamal would take on the responsibility of a shot at goal when Lewandowski was better placed. Expect Flick to extinguish that immediately. If the centre-forward is in space or well-placed, he has to be fed. Simple as that.

It might even make Barca’s play more formulaic, but it should ensure they score more goals this coming season than the one just gone.

Culers already know what Lewy is capable of in front of goal, whilst aficionados of Los Blancos will wait with bated breath to see how well Mbappe dovetails into his new set up.

A fascinating battle awaits.



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