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Birthday boy Lewandowski ‘makes Bayern hearts beat faster’

Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski turned 32 on Friday with the Bayern Munich striker in the form of his career and two short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 goals in a Champions League season ahead of this weekend’s final against Paris Saint Germain.

The Munich squad sang Happy Birthday to Lewandowski before knuckling down in training ahead of Sunday’s showpiece in Lisbon.

Bayern’s birthday boy is having the best spell of his career as a clincially headed late goal to seal Wednesday’s 3-0 semi-final win over Lyon was his 55th this season.

Lewandowski is the Champions League’s top-scorer with 15 goals, two shy of Ronaldo’s record set in 2013/14 while at Real Madrid.

After scoring twice and setting up the other two goals in Bayern’s 4-1 second-leg win over Chelsea in the last 16, Lewandowski says his goal is to win the Champions League, not break Ronaldo’s record.

“I think for every player” the Champions League “is the big goal,” said Lewandowski, who was on the losing Dortmund team in the 2013 final against Bayern.

His team-mate Thomas Mueller, whose record 21 assists in the Bundesliga last season helped contribute to Lewandowski’s 34 league goals in 2019/20, says the Poland star is as much a creator as a finisher.

His goals are “what makes him famous worldwide,” said Mueller, yet Lewandowski is “very team-oriented – that’s why we’re so strong at the moment”.

Mueller pointed to the goals Lewandowski created for him when Barcelona were routed 8-2 in the Champions League last-eight, then for Serge Gnabry’s second, a simple tap-in, in the semi-final win over Lyon.

Mueller said “his heart beat faster” when Lewandowski “didn’t just try to turn and shoot wildly, but instead put the ball back to me” for the first goal against Barcelona.

The Poland striker was also hailed for his professionalism by Bayern board member and former Germany captain Olvier Kahn.

“Players like him leave nothing to chance,” said Kahn.

“He is an absolute role model in terms of professionalism” which makes it possible to “deliver these top performances”.

“You can see that Lewandowski has a similar attitude to (Germany goalkeeper) Manuel Neuer or Cristiano Ronaldo,” Kahn added.

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