Farce Football: Robert Lewandowski denied Ballon d’Or yet again—honored as “Striker of the Year”

If I had to craft a slogan for ‘modern football’, it would be in the spirit of the Ballon d’Or award that France Football gives to Lionel Messi: ‘To those who have more, they will be given more’.

Messi won the seventh Ballon d’Or. He had an impressive 2020/21 season, leading Barcelona to third place in La Liga while knocking out the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16. But while Messi didn’t win anything at club level, he finally won an international cup Lifting the 2021 Copa America with Argentina.

France Football abruptly canceled the Ballon d’Or in the 2019/20 season, of which Robert Lewandowski, a six-way winner, was the favorite to win. This year, the publication created a new award, Striker of the Year, a pole-veiled consolation prize. France Football is clearly embarrassed that its voters are simply unable to award the Golden Ball to a player who is not from Barcelona (Messi) or Real Madrid (Ronaldo, Luka Modric), as they have done since 2008.

Lewandowski gently accepted his award. He should fully enjoy the spotlight:


However, I don’t have to be generous. If there are to be individual awards in football, I want the best individual in a season to win them. Messi will go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time, perhaps The greatest. But the 2020/21 season was not individually as good as Lewandowski’s.

Having won everything that could have been won in a single season since 1956 in which France Football rescinded the award, Lewandowski contributed decisively to Bayern Munich’s ninth consecutive Bundesliga title. Along the way, he broke one of the longest records: fifty-year-old Gerd Muller, an “unbreakable” record of 40 goals in a single season in the Bundesliga.

Lewandowski tied Muller’s record in round 33, and broke it, scoring his 41st goal, in round 34. He managed to break Muller’s record despite missing a series of four matches due to an AFC Champions League injury he suffered in an international assignment with Poland.

Lewandowski has scored 41 goals in 29 matches (including one in which he rested).

That period of matches unfortunately coincided with Bayern’s crucial quarter-final match against Paris Saint-Germain, which knocked out Bayern Munich with away goals. But this highlights rather than underestimates Lewandowski’s individual importance: had he been fit, Bayern would have had a very good chance of successfully defending the Champions League title.

Lewandowski may offer another superhero season; Most likely, though, he’ll never win the Ballon d’Or. With individual awards accruing to the same nominees year after year, regardless of their real performance, it seems increasingly unlikely that a player will win the Bundesliga, no matter how talented, important and dedicated he may be.

That was Robert Lewandowski with Bayern Munich in 2020/21, and it wasn’t enough.

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