Lewandowski’s staggering numbers mean he’s encroaching on Ronaldo and Messi’s territory

It was just another day at the office for Robert Lewandowski. He bagged the opener in a 2-0 victory at Union Berlin but his performance was hardly memorable.

The striker had fewer touches (33) than any other Bayern Munich starter on Sunday and managed only two attempts at goal, getting on the scoresheet from the spot with one of them.

Yet, his strike held plenty of significance.

In converting the penalty that Leon Goretzka won, Lewandowski notched up his 40th goal of the season in club football, marking the fifth consecutive time he’s reached that milestone.

The only other players to celebrate that accomplishment in the 21st century?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

For over a decade their duopoly has ruled the world of football, fending off confrontations from pretenders along the way.

The likes of Neymar, Gareth Bale, Mohamed Salah, Luis Suarez and even Radamel Falcao have, at various junctures, threatened to force their way into that exclusive bracket but none were able to sustain a challenge.

That’s precisely why Lewandowski’s accomplishment carries so much weight. The Poland international is arguably the finest striker in the modern era and has consistently proved his quality season after season since his emergence.

His numbers in the last five years though have catapulted him into a new stratosphere, heights that only Messi and Ronaldo have scaled among the current crop of superstars.

It’s not just about the goals either. At 31, Lewandowski is only a year younger than Messi. It takes great dedication to maintain such a standard of fitness, avoid serious injury and remain sharp for every outing.

That level of commitment and mental strength can’t be understated.

What’s remarkable is that Lewandowski appears to be in the form of his life when he should really be slowing down.

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Rohit Sharma and AB de Villiers feature in greatest ODI XI to have never won the World Cup

An ICC World Cup medal is one of the most coveted prizes sought by any player entering the modern ODI game.

There are players such as Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath who have laid their hands on a staggering three World Cup titles over the course of their careers. On the other hand, a winners’ medal has remained elusive for some of the greatest players to have graced the game.

Here, we have compiled an XI of the best ODI players in history who have missed out on a World Cup title.

Hashim Amla (South Africa)

Role: Opening batsman

Innings: 178

Runs: 8113

Average: 49.46

Having first made his mark as a classy Test batsman, there was initial skepticism over Hashim Amla’s ability to succeed in the shorter formats. The right-hander removed those doubts once he was handed a belated ODI debut in 2008.

Becoming the fastest batsman in ODI history to breach the 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000-run mark, Amla established himself as one of the most dependable openers in the format.

Unfortunately like every great South African player, a World Cup title has not been forthcoming for Amla. The closest he got to a World Cup medal was in the 2015 edition as the Proteas suffered a dramatic heartbreak in the semi-final against New Zealand.

Rohit Sharma (India)

Role: Opening batsman

Innings: 217

Runs: 9115

Average: 49.27

Rohit (14)

While he did make his ODI debut all the way back in 2007, Rohit Sharma could only watch on the television as India lifted the 2011 World Cup title at his home ground in Mumbai.

But it wasn’t exactly a surprise Rohit was overlooked for selection in 2011, given only started gaining consistency after switching to an opening role in 2012. Since then, the right-hander has faced two semi-final

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Merih Demiral’s quiet return and how he symbolises a winning tradition at Juventus

They haven’t kicked a ball in anger since early March’s cessation.

But Serie A’s unprecedented stoppage could not curtail an eventful time for Juventus’ centre-backs.

Giorgio Chiellini’s rampant promotional tour to promote – surprisingly – outspoken autobiography, ‘Io, Giorgio’, sparked a memorable contretemps with Mario Balotelli and Felipe Melo. Head coach Maurizio Sarri’s inveterate smoking habit and Arturo Vidal’s, alleged, extracurricular activities also featured, among a torrent of tantalising soundbites.

Leonardo Bonucci drew national ire because of April’s birthday celebrations for his father amid a stringent coronavirus lockdown, while Daniele Rugani’s positive test was one of the competition’s first.

Rumour about a swift exit for Matthijs de Ligt, also, linger after an indifferent opening campaign at the eight-time-successive champions. The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday a rejected £66 million bid from Barcelona.

An update of great consequence could have been missed, by all but the most-dedicated Continassa observers, amid such fevered hoopla.

Last Wednesday’s return to training for Merih Demiral marked a tempo change in recovery from January’s devastating knee injury.

An awkward landing in the eventual 2-1 win at Roma halted what the Turkey international had come to exemplify; Juve’s enviable, and infrequently matched, veneration of the unheralded player.

De Ligt had been chased by every major club in Europe throughout Ajax’s unbridled run to 2018/19’s Champions League semi-finals. A €75m package would seal the deal for Juve in July, with a parallel ‘Turn De Ligt On’ social media campaign stealing further attention.

This chase had swamped earlier news about an acquisition, for €18m, of another promising centre-back.

Demiral only required 14 Serie A appearances in half a season at Sassuolo to convince the Old Lady of his estimable qualities.

Little was expected, though, from the then 21-year-old former Sporting Lisbon B starlet. Especially in relation to

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