The winners for the 2021 Ballon d’Or will be announced on November 29, 2021, and the race this year is close with multiple names in the running for the coveted sports award. And it is highly likely that the hegemony of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi might be coming to an end with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski being tipped by many to take home the 2021 Ballon d’Or.
However, the decision may not be easy with fans, teammates, players voicing their support for a particular player.
But even if after the winners are announced there will be a long debate over who deserves the award.
It is no secret that Messi and Lewandowski are the favourites to win the awards and both have astounding stats to back up their claims for the prize.
It has been crystal clear that Robert Lewandowski has been in the form of his life for not one but the last two years.
And since there was no Ballon D’Or in 2020 we should probably start by taking a look at the 2019-20 season.
That season the Bayern Munich striker was on fire with 55 goals and 10 assists across the season as his team won the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal and the UEFA Champions League.
This season also included an 8-2 mauling of Messi’s Barca in the UCL quarter-finals.
Messi did not have his best season in terms of goal by his standards with 31 strikes to his name but he provided 21 assists the joint highest in the top five leagues alongside Thomas Muller.
🔥 Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have played a direct hand in 75 goals between them in league and European competition this season
👀 They lead the way in our Barcelona and Bayern Munich combined XI, with big name players missing out 👇
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 14, 2020
However, Lewandowski’s form and consistency were on another level as the forward scored in 11 consecutive matches in the Bundesliga season.
A look at the stats shows a clearer picture of why Lewandowski was the best player on the continent that season.
Robert Lewandowski vs Lionel Messi stats comparison
|Stats (2019-20 Season)||Robert Lewandowski||Lionel Messi|
|Goals per game||1.14||0.70|
|Goal Involvement per minute||63||66|
|Attempts on Goal (Domestic League)||140||115|
|Attempts per Goal||4.1||4.6|
|Match Winning Goals||16||11|
Source: Transfermarkt and Bundesliga.com
The above stats clearly show that the Polish international would have been named the winner if Covid-19 had not led to the cancellation of the award ceremony.
The next season the Polish striker’s form dropped marginally as he scored 48 goals and provided nine assists but this came as a result of injuries due to which he played seven fewer matches as compared to the previous year.
Still, Lewandowski managed an impressive return of being involved in 57 goals, the highest for any player in Europe that season.
On the contrary, Messi scored 38 goals and assisted 14 in another remarkable season.
However, his goal contribution was still the fourth-best in Europe behind Lewandowski, Kylian Mabpe and Erling Haaland.
119 – Robert Lewandowski has scored 119 goals in his last 100 matches for Bayern Munich, while he has scored six more goals than any other player in Europe's top five leagues in all competitions in 2021 (41). Unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/pfngZsQ0Yw
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 29, 2021
In addition, his performance did not yield any results for his team on the field as they could only win the Copa del Rey and finished outside of the top two in La Liga for the first time in 13 years.
In that season, Messi won Barcelona two points per game in which he played while Bayern Munich won 2.38 points per game in matches in which Lewandowski played.
According to fbref data, Leanwdoski averaged 8.08 touches per 90 minutes in the attacking penalty area while Messi averaged 6.88 passes.
However, Messi’s stats were far better when it came to controlling the ball in the middle with 50.73 touches in the attacking third as compared to 21.86 touches and 41.61 touches in the midfield third as compared to 14.91 touches.
This shows that Messi was creating chances for his team while Lewandowski was finishing them but Lewandowski’s contribution was beyond goals.
He would often open up the defence or would take a defender or two out of position thus creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.
A comparison of the two players using smarterscout ratings also shows that Lewandowski was also a better all-around player than the Argentine.
The Bayern Munich man fared better than Messi on shooting, receiving the ball, passing towards goal, disrupting opposition moves, recovering the ball and aerial ability.
Robert Lewandowski vs Lionel Messi ratings
|Ability||Robert Lewandowski||Lionel Messi|
|Receive in box||88||06|
|Pass towards Goal||20||88|
|Link up Play||58||59|
Rating bases on the domestic league campaign
So, the Pole has outperformed the six-time Ballon D’or champions for not one but two seasons.
However, it is the current season that has seen the gulf between the two is at its widest as Messi has failed to perform after leaving Barcelona for Paris Saint Germain.
While Lewandowski has hit the ground running with 23 goals in 17 appearances helping Bayern top the Bundesliga table and the Champions League, Messi has struggled with only three goals to his name and is yet to open his account in Ligue 1.
In fact, his start is so underwhelming that WhoScored.com has given him a rating of just 6.75 in Ligues 1, the lowest since they started collecting data in the 2009-10 season,
😬 Lionel Messi's WhoScored rating has decreased (-1.9) more than any other player in Europe's top 5 leagues from the second half of last season to this
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 29, 2021
Lewandowski has scored eight goals so far in the Champions League in just four matches.
If we considered him as a team he will be ninth in terms of goals scored ahead of teams such as Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid among others.
Both Messi and Lewandowski’s stats also show a deep imprint of the role, position and the area of the pitch where they have been operating mostly.
In the last 365 days, the Polish stroker has donated when it comes to shooting but lags behind the Argentine when it comes to passing and goal creation.
According to fbref, the Bundesliga star bests Messi in almost all the metrics such as goals, shots on target, goals per shot.
However, Messi got better stats when it comes to assists, passes under pressure, through balls.
But overall the Pole has had a bigger impact as a player on the pitch for the two years which has translated into multiple personal accolades and trophies for his team.
Even if he does not win the award on November 29, he surely has had done everything in his capability to be named the best player on the planet.