Robert Lewandowski became the first player in Bundesliga history to score in eight successive away games and Thomas Muller scored twice as leaders Bayern Munich cruised to a 4-0 win over Schalke.

Second-place RB Leipzig suffered a shock loss to Mainz 05 on Saturday and Bayern took full advantage at the Veltins-Arena on Sunday, moving seven points clear at the top.

Schalke are bottom of the table with one win all season but they more than matched the European champions before Muller's 33rd-minute breakthrough.

Muller doubled his tally late on after Lewandowski had scored his latest record-breaking goal early in the second half, before David Alaba added further gloss at the death.

The division's leading scorer Lewandowski glanced over the crossbar from close range early on before a better chance came and went for Mark Uth, who headed straight at Manuel Neuer from five yards out.

Ralf Fahrmann was called into action with a fine double save to keep out Lewandowski's free-kick and Serge Gnabry's follow-up attempt. 

Gnabry went close again when glancing the side-netting with a header he should have put away, but Bayern were in front seven minutes later through Muller's powerful header. 

The attacking midfielder met Joshua Kimmich's back-post delivery and made no mistake in beating Fahrmann for his eighth league goal of the campaign. 

Gnabry thought he had added a quickfire second after Leroy Sane's initial effort was parried, only for the offside flag to go up against the former Schalke winger.

But the Bavarian giants did double their advantage early in the second period as Lewandowski controlled Kimmich's long ball, held off two defenders and slotted under Fahrmann.

It is the 11th successive Bundesliga game in which Lewandowski has scored against Schalke and he nearly added another, dragging wide from 18 yards 20 minutes from time.

Schalke are now without a win against Bayern in 21 league matches and badly faded in the closing stages, with Muller heading in from another Kimmich delivery and Alaba adding a fourth with a 30-yard drive that squirmed under Fahrmann.

Robert Lewandowski has his work cut out to match Gerd Muller's Bundesliga goals record but Bayern Munich will do all they can to make it happen, Hansi Flick has said.

Muller hit 40 goals for Bayern in the 1971-72 season, a mark that is firmly in the sights of Lewandowski after he began the campaign with 22 goals in Bayern's first 17 games.

Speaking ahead of Bayern's trip to face Schalke on Sunday, in a clash of the top and bottom teams in the German top flight, Flick spoke of how he used to idolise the legendary Muller.

As leaders Bayern pursue a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title, the prospect of Lewandowski challenging Muller is drawing plenty of attention, and Flick indicated the team would love it to happen.

"Gerd Muller was my role model," said Flick. "Unfortunately, I've never scored as many goals as he did, I wasn't as lethal, maybe at the beginning in the youth teams.

"He was a striker who was always ready to accept balls outside the box and you could combine together with him. He was wonderful in front of goal.

"For Robert to have scored more goals than him in the first half of the season shows his quality and that the team keep supporting him to end up in situations where he can score goals.

"I think about the 1-0 against Freiburg, which was a genius attacking move via Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller, who immediately passed the ball to him. Their alignment was perfect.

"We all know, and Robert knows this too, that a lot of things need to be in place to continue like this. We're working on it.

"We have to support Robert and he is important to the team. He has certain tasks within the team and if he does them well, it is easier for the team to assist him at goalscoring.

"I would wish he could manage 40 but Gerd Muller is really something special."

Muller is suffering with Alzheimer's disease and is said to be living in a nursing home.

"We all know how Gerd Muller is doing, that also makes you sad," Flick said.

Bayern will face a Schalke team who are showing flickers of life at the foot of the table, and who brought Klaas Jan Huntelaar back to the club this week from Ajax.

Huntelaar, at the age of 37 and ready to retire at the end of the season, has rejoined Schalke because he could not bear being unable to help them in the battle to avoid relegation.

He previously had a seven-year spell with the club and, much like Lewandowski, has a proven nose for goal.

The veteran Dutch striker could have a role to play this weekend, with Schalke coach Christian Gross saying on Friday: "I think that Klaas Jan will be part of the squad against Bayern. He's a good option for the bench."

Robert Lewandowski was brought off in the second half of Bayern Munich's edgy 1-0 victory against Augsburg as a precaution, head coach Hansi Flick confirmed.

Lewandowski scored the 13th-minute penalty that ultimately secured the three points for Bundesliga champions Bayern at the Augsburg Arena on Wednesday.

However, superstar striker Lewandowski was substituted after 67 minutes and Bayern were left grateful for a spot-kick miss from Alfred Finnbogason midweek.

Flick explained the surprising decision was because Lewandowski has been managing an issue with his thigh.

"[It was] to be on the safe side because Robert is very important to us. We didn't want to take any risks," Flick said in quotes reported by SID.

"He already said this morning that he could feel something in the thigh muscles on the back, but [he felt] that he could control it quite well."

Bayern were brilliant in the opening period but struggled in the second half in a theme of only playing well in patches that has become rather familiar in recent weeks.

Back-to-back wins and a first clean sheet since October followed a loss to Borussia Monchengladbach and a shock DFB-Pokal exit to second-tier Holsten Kiel, with Bayern's performances well below their best.

Flick, though, said even a team like Bayern – who won a superb treble in 2019-20 – can hit a "limit" in what has been a testing period.

"The team played an outstanding year, at some point they too are at their limit," he added to Sky Germany, with Bayern four points clear atop the table. 

"It was a bit of luck against Freiburg in the end, but very important. We [wanted] to add more today and take three points with us to Munich."

Bayern Munich's luck was in as a story of two penalties was the main tale in their 1-0 win over Augsburg in Tuesday's Bundesliga contest.

Robert Lewandowski calmly slotted home from the spot after 13 minutes at Augsburg Arena and missed a glut of chances in a first half dominated by the champions.

It was a completely different outlook for Bayern after the break, though, and Hansi Flick's side were left breathing a sigh of relief when Alfred Finnbogason struck the post with a penalty of his own 15 minutes from time.

The end result means Bayern remain four points clear at the top but Flick will want to see fewer of the Jekyll-and-Hyde performances that have been on display in recent weeks from his side.

Rani Khedira's clumsy kick on Lucas Hernandez allowed Lewandowski to find the bottom-right corner with a cool 13th-minute penalty that looked like setting the tone for a dominant win.

Serge Gnabry was denied by the busy Rafal Gikiewicz and Thomas Muller put the rebound narrowly wide as Bayern peppered the hosts' goal.

Gnabry was kept out again by Gikiewicz before teeing up Lewandowski, who was guilty of wastefulness a couple of times, with the Pole only hitting the outside of the post with the goal gaping.

A second half completely at odds with the first saw Bayern struggle to create openings and Daniel Caligiuri's long-range effort would have briefly had away hearts in mouths before rising comfortably over.

There was an even greater left-off shortly after when substitute Finnbogason fluffed his lines from the spot after Benjamin Pavard had been pinged for handball from Iago's flick in the area.

Muller had the ball in the net but Jamal Musiala clearly ran the ball out in the act of setting him up, before Florian Niederlechner skewed wide and Felix Uduokhai headed over in further late scares that a lacklustre Bayern ultimately survived.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are three of the superstars who have been voted into UEFA's Men's Team of the Year by fans, with Virgil van Dijk also included despite missing a chunk of 2020 through injury.

Fans had from November 30 to January 6 to cast their votes, and a host of predictable names made the cut, though Champions League winners Bayern Munich dominate.

There are five players from Bayern's treble-winning 2019-20 in the team, including Robert Lewandowski – winner of The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year award – and Thiago Alcantara, who has since joined Liverpool.

The other Reds player in the side is Van Dijk even though the Dutch centre-back has only played five Premier League games this season due to a serious knee injury.

However, earlier in the year he inspired Liverpool to their first league title since 1990.

Ronaldo was named in the side for a 15th time after helping Juventus to another Scudetto.

Messi earned his 12th inclusion despite failing to help Barcelona to LaLiga success in what was a largely difficult year for the Blaugrana and their captain.

UEFA confirmed the final selection for the women's team as well, with six players from Lyon's Women's Champions League-winning squad in the side.

 

Men's Team of the Year:

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany); Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich and Germany), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid and Spain), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool and Netherlands), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich and Canada); Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/Liverpool and Spain), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium); Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus and Portugal), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil).

Women's Team of the Year:

Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon and France); Lucy Bronze (Lyon/Manchester City and England), Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon and Canada), Wendie Renard (Lyon and France), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea and Sweden); Kheira Hamraoui (Barcelona and France), Amandine Henry (Lyon and France), Delphine Cascarino (Lyon and France), Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir (Wolfsburg/Lyon and Iceland); Danielle van de Donk (Arsenal and Netherlands), Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg/Chelsea and Denmark).

Robert Lewandowski became the first player to hit 21 goals in the first half of a Bundesliga campaign with his opener for Bayern Munich against Freiburg.

Gerd Muller previously held the record of 20 goals, with the Bayern great having achieved the feat in 1968-69.

Lewandowski matched that haul on January 8, scoring in a 3-2 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach.

On Sunday, in Bayern's 16th league game of the 34-match campaign, the 32-year-old overtook Muller by slotting home at the culmination of a superb Bayern move in the seventh minute.

It also brought up Lewandowski's fifth goal in his last four games against Freiburg.

Prolific in attack, it is at the other end where Hansi Flick's Bayern side have struggled this season.

Heading into Sunday's game at the Allianz Arena, the Bavarian side had 33 points – they last had as many points after 15 matches in 2017-18 - yet their 24 goals conceded after 15 fixtures was more than in any season since 1981-82 (25).

Lewandowksi scored 34 times in the league last season, six shy of Muller's Bundesliga record of 40 (1971-72), but the Poland star now looks well on course to challenge that tally.

Robert Lewandowski has paid tribute to Jurgen Klopp for the impact he had on the striker's path to being crowned the best player in the world last month.

Bayern Munich star Lewandowski won The Best FIFA Men's Player award for 2020 after starring as Die Roten claimed a Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal treble.

Between July 20, 2019 and October 7, 2020 – the period considered for the award – Lewandowski scored 60 club goals in 52 appearances across all competitions at a rate of one every 76 minutes.

He beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the prize, with the Pole effectively recognised the best footballer in the world in the absence of a Ballon d'Or winner in 2020.

Lewandowski has enjoyed immense success since joining Bayern in 2014, though he already looked destined for greatness during his time at Borussia Dortmund, where Klopp had begun to mould him into the lethal forward he is now.

Writing in a reflective piece for the Players' Tribune in the wake of his FIFA award win, Lewandowski said of the current Liverpool boss: "Jurgen was not only a father figure to me. As a coach, he was like the 'bad teacher'. And I mean that in the best sense of the word.

"Not the one who made life easy for you and never expected anything from you, but the one who was strict with you. The one who put pressure on you and did everything to get the best out of you. That's the teacher who made you better. Jurgen was like that.

"He was not content to let you be a B-grade student. Jurgen wanted A+ students. He didn't want it for him. He wanted it for you.

"I could talk to Jurgen about anything. I could trust him. He is a family man, and he has so much empathy for what goes on in your private life."

Lewandowski took a season to truly adapt to German football after joining from Lech Poznan in his native Poland, as he only netted eight Bundesliga goals in 33 games during the 2010-11 campaign.

That remains the only season he has failed to reach double figures for league goals during his time in Germany, and Lewandowski considers Klopp's influence to be a major part of his improvement.

"He taught me so much," the striker continued. "When I arrived at Dortmund, I wanted to do everything quickly: strong pass, one touch only. Jurgen showed me to calm down — to take two touches if necessary.

"It was totally against my nature, but soon I was scoring more goals. When I had that down, he challenged me to speed it up again.

"One touch. BANG. Goal. He slowed me down to speed me up. It sounds simple, but it was genius, really."

Lewandowski's shot conversion rate rose from 13.1 per cent to 22.5 after his first season with Klopp and has never dipped below 20 per cent since.

In fact, the 32-year-old appears to be getting better with age, given his best ever return in terms of shot conversion was posted last term (29.8), and he is well on track to obliterate that personal best in 2020-21.

With 20 goals in 14 Bundesliga games, the Polish marksman is converting 44.4 per cent of his opportunities.

 

Jonas Hofmann played a pivotal role as Borussia Monchengladbach incredibly came from two goals down to defeat Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich 3-2 on Friday.

Robert Lewandowski scored his 20th top-flight goal of the season from the penalty spot after an inexplicable handball from Florian Neuhaus, and Leon Goretzka had Bayern cruising at Borussia-Park in the 26th minute.

However, Hofmann struck twice in the space of 10 minutes to send the teams into half-time level and Neuhaus atoned for his earlier error with what proved to be the winner in the 49th minute.

Gladbach consequently became the first team since Cologne in February 2011 to defeat Bayern in the Bundesliga after falling 2-0 down.

Lewandowski put Bayern in front from the penalty spot following a bizarre handball by Neuhaus, though referee Harm Osmers only pointed to the spot after a VAR check.

Bayern doubled their advantage six minutes later, Goretzka intercepting Matthias Ginter's pass and drilling a venomous effort past Yann Sommer after a one-two with Leroy Sane.

Gladbach reduced the deficit when Rami Bensebaini regained the ball high up the pitch and a quick passing move ended with Hofmann sliding Lars Stindl's throughball past Manuel Neuer.

The hosts drew level in first-half stoppage time when Stindl dispossessed Joshua Kimmich and fed Hofmann for another cool finish - the VAR confirming he was onside when the pass was played.

Gladbach completed the turnaround four minutes after the restart, Hofmann intercepting Niklas Sule's pass and teeing up Neuhaus to curl a wonderful effort into the top-right corner.

Marco Rose's men sat deep and Ginter cleared a header from Sule off the line in the 91st minute, opening the door for RB Leipzig to replace Bayern at the Bundesliga summit if they can beat Borussia Dortmund in a mouthwatering clash on Saturday.

What does it mean? Worries at the back for Flick

Bayern's defensive struggles continued against Gladbach, with Neuer now on a 10-game run without a clean sheet in the Bundesliga for the first time in his career.

He was not helped by Benjamin Pavard giving away possession prior to Hofmann's first, while Sule played a role in allowing the other two Gladbach goals.

Securing the future of David Alaba, who will be out of contract at the end of the season, never seemed quite so important.

Having it Lars

Most teams would think the game is beyond them when falling 2-0 down to Bayern, but Gladbach captain Stindl led by example to turn the game around. He set up both of Hofmann's goals with a pair of quality passes and contested 11 duels before being substituted in the 82nd minute.

Sluggish Sule

Sule replaced Jerome Boateng in the centre of defence but endured a disappointing outing. He played Hofmann onside for the equaliser just before half-time and within minutes of the restart his stray pass resulted in Neuhaus putting Gladbach in front.

What's next?

Bayern are in DFB-Pokal action against 2. Bundesliga side Holstein Kiel on Wednesday, while Gladbach have a week to prepare for a Bundesliga clash with Stuttgart.

Erling Haaland should follow the example of Robert Lewandowski and stay at Borussia Dortmund until he is "world class", according to Hans-Joachim Watzke. 

Striker Haaland has been a revelation since joining the Bundesliga club, scoring 16 goals in the second half of the 2019-20 season following his January arrival from Salzburg.

The Norway international has continued to be prolific during the current campaign – he has 17 goals in 15 appearances in all competitions – and, unsurprisingly, that has led to speculation he could leave in the near future.

Josep Maria Minguella, advisor to Barcelona presidential candidate Emili Rousaud, had claimed a deal was lined up to take the 20-year-old to Camp Nou if they triumph in the upcoming election. 

However, Mino Raiola – Haaland's agent – rejected the claim, and Dortmund CEO Watzke has urged the player to remain at his current club until ready for the next step.

"Erling and Mino Raiola know what they have in us. I can only advise him to do it like Robert Lewandowski," Watzke told Kicker.

Lewandowski had four successful seasons with BVB – including winning the Bundesliga title twice – before moving on to Bayern Munich in 2014, by which time he had established himself as one of the leading strikers in the game.

Watzke believes Haaland can "mature into an absolute world-class player in Dortmund", with the club aware that – eventually – the talented forward will likely want to move on elsewhere.

He added: "It is clear that if Erling should leave us at some point, he will only go to an even bigger club, so many are not considered. 

"If you go to a club like - just to name an example - Real Madrid, you have to be world class."

Haaland was injured prior to the mid-season break in Germany but was back in action on Saturday, playing 81 minutes of Dortmund's 2-0 win over Wolfsburg.

He is averaging an impressive 1.23 goals per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this term, though that is still behind Lewandowski (1.57), who has scored 19 in 13 appearances for the reigning champions.

That works out as a goal every 57 minutes for the Poland international, whose shot conversion rate (66 per cent) is also slightly better than Haaland's mark of 59 per cent. They are the only duo to reach double figures for goals in the competition so far this season, Andre Silva and Wout Weghorst next on the list with nine.

Bayern Munich came from behind for an eighth successive Bundesliga match as the champions overcame struggling Mainz 5-2 at Allianz Arena.

Hansi Flick's side have not taken the lead in a league game since October and might have been staring down the barrel of a second defeat of the season had Danny Latza beaten Manuel Neuer early in the second half.

Mainz had a 2-0 lead at that stage, with Jonathan Burkardt and Alexander Hack scoring in the first half, but Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sane restored parity in the space of five minutes.

Robin Quaison struck the woodwork as 17th-placed Mainz fought back, though Bayern ultimately had too much.

Niklas Sule's deflected strike and Robert Lewandowski's double – the first of which came from the spot – settling a thrilling contest firmly in Bayern's favour.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo and Pep Guardiola were honoured at the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai, the duo named player and coach of the century respectively. 

Juventus forward Ronaldo picked up the award in person at a ceremony held at the Armani Hotel on Sunday. 

The 35-year-old, who has won domestic league titles in Spain, England and Italy and Euro 2016 with Portugal, admitted his pride at receiving the accolade, given to the player judged the best between 2001 and 2020. 

"It's a pleasure to win titles," said Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, at the event. 

"It's not easy to be top of the game for so many years. I am really proud, but without a team, great coaches and clubs it is not possible." 

Guardiola was honoured for a managerial career which has seen him win league championships in Spain, Germany and England, as well as the Champions League twice.

The Manchester City boss was not present at the gala, though he accepted the award via a pre-recorded video message. 

Both Ronaldo and Lionel Messi missed out on the men's player of the year award for 2020, however, as that went to Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski. 

Bayern's treble of the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal also saw boss Hansi Flick rewarded as coach of the year.  

Real Madrid were named the club of the century at the ceremony, while Bayern picked up the team award for 2020. 

The Globe Soccer Awards, founded in 2010, acknowledge excellence in football with an annual gala dinner and awards ceremony.

It has been a year like no other, but football eventually managed to continue amid the coronavirus pandemic and give fans across the world something positive to focus on.

Ligue 1 was curtailed and a streamlined version of the Champions League knockout rounds took place in Lisbon in August, before a new season got under way.

There have still been plenty of performances to savour, though, and Stats Perform News has used Opta data to calculate a Team of the Year from the top five European leagues.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi made the grade in 2020 but the same could not be said of Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, while Kylian Mbappe earned a spot that his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar could not.

Supporters of Premier League clubs may not be rejoicing about the selections, which were made based solely on data.

 

Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)

Atletico lead the way in LaLiga on goal difference and have two games in hand on nearest rivals Real Madrid. Diego Simeone's side owe much of their success to Oblak, who has kept 17 clean sheets in 33 LaLiga appearances this year – the most of any keeper in the division during the same period.

Right-back: Juan Cuadrado (Juventus)

Juve won a ninth straight Scudetto this year and Cuadrado has played an important role throughout 2020, creating 45 chances (including seven assists) for the Bianconeri in Serie A – only Paulo Dybala (56) supplied more key passes for the club.

Centre-back: Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)

Bayern Munich may be the dominant force in the Bundesliga, but Hummels has continued to show his worth since returning to Dortmund. He made the most interceptions (57) and completed the most passes (2,056) of any Bundesliga defender in 2020.

Centre-back: Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)

France international Upamecano is one of the hottest properties in European football and has been linked with a host of elite clubs. He shows great coolness in possession – as evidenced by him completing 24 of the 33 dribbles he attempted for a success rate of 73 per cent, the best of any Bundesliga defender to try at least 30.

Left-back: Theo Hernandez (Milan)

While Upamecano has established himself with Les Bleus, Hernandez's continued absence from the France set-up despite stellar showings for a resurgent Milan remains a source of much debate. The Rossoneri will end the year top of Serie A and Hernandez has been directly involved in 102 shots (46 chances created, 56 attempts on goal) in the league in 2020. That is more than any other defender in the same period.

Centre midfield: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Kimmich's looping goal against Dortmund at the back end of last season was pivotal to Bayern retaining their German league title, which came as part of a treble. It has been the Germany international's distribution that has stood out this year, though. He completed an average of 75 passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga in 2020, the most of any midfielder in the competition to feature for at least 1,000 minutes.

Centre midfield: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)

Madrid regained the title in LaLiga in 2020, with Kroos a central figure in Zinedine Zidane's midfield. Of all players who attempted at least 1,000 passes in the opposition half in the Spanish top flight this year, Kroos was the only one who had a completion rate higher than 90 per cent.

Right wing: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

This year may have proved to be terminal to Messi's tight relationship with Barcelona, and while he was not quite up to his previous goalscoring exploits he still proved massively influential in the final third. He was the only player in LaLiga in 2020 to both score at least 15 goals and register as many assists.

Attacking midfield: Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez (Atalanta)

His time with Atalanta may seemingly be coming to an end after a falling-out with Gian Piero Gasperini, but Gomez has been one of the club's most important players. He had more assists (12) and created more chances (81) in Serie A this year than any of his team-mates.

Left wing: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

PSG were crowned Ligue 1 champions despite the season being cut short in April, meaning they have played just 26 games this year. Mbappe only featured in 21 of those, but he was still directly involved in 24 goals (19 scored, five assisted) which was more than any other player in the competition in 2020.

Striker: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

It was no surprise to see Lewandowski named The Best FIFA Men's Player after an incredible campaign with Bayern. He scored 32 Bundesliga goals in 26 appearances this year and only five of them were spot-kicks. His tally of 27 non-penalty goals was the most of any player in the top five European leagues.

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has revealed he held talks with Alex Ferguson over a move to Manchester United in 2012.

The Poland international was regularly linked with a switch to Old Trafford while at Borussia Dortmund, where he spent four trophy-laden seasons.

However, a transfer failed to materialise and he instead joined Dortmund's domestic rivals Bayern on a free transfer in 2014.

He has scored an incredible 266 goals in 307 appearances for Bayern and was the leading scorer in each of the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League last term as the Bavarian giants won a stunning treble.

Lewandowski was last week recognised for his form over the past year as The Best FIFA Men's Player for 2020, but his career could have gone down a different route had BVB not blocked a Premier League switch, he says.

"After my second year in Dortmund, I had a conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson," Lewandowski told France Football. "He wanted me to come to Manchester. 

"I was very interested. I can even say I was ready. But Dortmund didn't want to let me go. It didn't upset me more than that because things were going well with Borussia."

Ferguson instead signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal ahead of the 2012-13 campaign and he helped fire United to the Premier League title in the legendary manager's final season.

Robert Lewandowski says he can never be compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of longevity but joked he is now the one sitting at football's top table.

The prolific Bayern Munich striker was named The Best FIFA Men's Player for 2020 last week thanks to his sensational form over the past year for treble-winning Bayern.

Messi and Ronaldo had won the award in three of its four prior editions, though it was Poland international Lewandowski who claimed the top prize this time around.

In terms of wider honours, Messi has won six Ballons d'Or to Ronaldo's five, the pair having gone head-to-head in a fierce battle to be the world's best for more than a decade.

But Lewandowski feels he can now be considered in the same conversation as two of the game's all-time greats on the basis of his goalscoring figures in recent years.

"Messi and Ronaldo have been sitting at the same table, at the top, for a very long time, and that's what makes them incomparable," he told France Football.

"So to answer your question, I can't imagine myself next to them in this point of view. 

"That said, if you take the numbers for this year and even previous ones, I think I'm pretty good in terms of performance and goals scored. 

"Failing to be at the same table as Messi and Ronaldo, I think I can invite them to eat at mine!"

Lewandowski scored 60 club goals at a rate of one every 76 minutes between July 20, 2019 and October 7, 2020 - the period considered for this year's FIFA Best award.

That tally, from 52 Bayern appearances, was 20 more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

Juventus star Ronaldo was tied with Ciro Immobile on 40 goals, while Barcelona forward Messi (32) trailed Romelu Lukaku (37), Timo Werner (35) and Raheem Sterling (34).

Lewandowski has scored 17 goals in the first 13 Bundesliga matchdays this season, meanwhile, to equal the record set by Gerd Muller in 1968-69 and 1976-77. 

And despite now being 32 years of age, he intends to continue evolving in order to maintain his high performance levels.

"I have a desire to progress and that's even more important because I know that my time is limited," he said. 

"Obviously, progress is not instantaneous. When you repeat something every day, you can only measure its effect three or six months later, not the next day. 

"The problem is, a lot of people want what you do in invisible work to be seen immediately. Patience is an important virtue, in football as in life."

Cristiano Ronaldo became only the fourth player score at least 33 Serie A goals in a calendar year by bagging a brace in Juventus' 4-0 win over Parma.

The 35-year-old scored in each half as Juve cruised to a victory that moved them level on points with Inter and one adrift of leaders Milan, both of whom play their game in hand on Sunday.

Ronaldo equalled former Juventus forward Omar Sivori's goal haul from 1961 - the joint-third most in a single year behind Gunnar Nordahl (36 in 1950) and Felice Borel (41 in 1933).

He could move further up the list as Juventus have one more league match to play in 2020 - a home meeting with Fiorentina on Tuesday.

Ronaldo's 33 goals have come from 174 attempts - at least 67 more than any other player - giving him a shot conversion rate of 27.73, which compares to 28.26 for Ciro Immobile, who is the next highest scorer this year in Serie A with 26 for Lazio.

The Portugal international has scored 27 with his stronger right foot, four with his left and two via his head.

Robert Lewandowski, named The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year on Thursday, has 32 Bundesliga goals for Bayern Munich since January 1, while Barcelona star Lionel Messi has just 18 in LaLiga in the same timeframe.

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