Berlin (AFP) – With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang now at Arsenal, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski is poised to earn more goal-scoring accolades in Germany.
Aubameyang was the Bundesliga’s top-scorer last season with 31 goals — one more than Lewandowski — but Arsenal paid Borussia Dortmund a club-record £56 million ($79.2m, 63.7m euros) for the Gabon striker on Wednesday.
That leaves Lewandowski in pole-position to finish as the Bundesliga’s top-scorer for the third time having won the trophy in 2014 and 2016.
Bayern face Mainz away on Saturday, holding a 16-point lead in the Bundesliga, and the Poland striker is on fire with 18 goals in 19 league games.
With Aubameyang gone, Lewandowski is miles ahead of his nearest rival, Augsburg’s Iceland striker Alded Finnbogason, who has 11 goals.
Bayern’s main injury concern as they chase a tenth straight win in all competitions is Lewandowski’s back-up Sandro Wagner, who limped out of training after turning his ankle.
Mainz are just above the relegation places and have two wins in their last nine league games.
However, their ex-Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler could return after recovering from a thigh injury he first suffered October.
“We don’t have to talk about the quality of Bayern, they are outstanding in all positions,” said Mainz coach Sandro Schwarz.
Bayern start a busy run of three games in eight days.
They play second-division Paderborn away on Tuesday in the German Cup’s quarter-finals before hosting second-placed Schalke next Saturday, when Lewandowski could claim another record.
He has scored in each of Bayern’s last ten home league games and can equal the Bundesliga record – set by current Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes in 1972-73 – by netting against Schalke.
“He won’t play at home next weekend – no, I’m just joking and, of course, I hope he scores against Schalke and adds to his run,” said Heynckes.
– Tough test at Freiburg –
Things remain tight in the group chasing Bayern.
Only three points separate second-placed Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Moenchengladbach, who are seventh.
Heiko Herrlich’s Leverkusen have a tough away match at Freiburg, who are unbeaten in their last eight league games.
Freiburg, under head coach Christian Streich, have fared well against top six teams in recent weeks — drawing with Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Dortmund and beating RB Leipzig and their Schwarzwald Stadion is a tough place to win.
Werder Bremen, third from bottom, are set to unveil new attacking midfielder Milot Rashica, who cost them 7.5 million euros from Dutch side Vitesse Arnheim, in their starting side against third-placed Schalke 04.
“He is in the squad and a good option for the starting team,” said Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt.
Also in January’s transfer window, RB Leipzig signed England Under-21 international Ademola Lookman, 20, on loan from Everton for the rest of the season.
Leipzig, fifth, have just one win in their last seven league games.
They are at Moenchengladbach in Saturday’s top game with Lookman and Brazilian Bernardo vying to start on the left.
Lookman, a winger, has been signed as back up for Swedish playmaker Emil Forsberg, who has been sidelined by a stomach muscle injury.
Fixtures (all times 1430 GMT unless stated)
Cologne v Borussia Dortmund (1930)
Hertha Berlin v Hoffenheim, Freiburg v Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke v Werder Bremen, Mainz v Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg v Stuttgart, Borussia Moenchengladbach v RB Leipzig (1730)
Augsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt, Hamburg v Hanover 96 (1700)
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