The Poland forward swapped Bavaria for Catalunya this summer after eight years, 344 goals scored and having certified himself as an all-time club legend.
At the end of last season, the 34-year-old announced that his “story had come to an end” in Munich and he moved to Barca for around £42.5 million.
The goals have continued to flow in Spain with Lewandowski hitting nine in his first six matches including a hat-trick in a 5-1 Champions League opening day victory over Viktoria Plzen.
Bayern and Barca are also no strangers in the competition having met several times in recent years, including an infamous 8-2 win in favour of the Germans in 2020 – a match in which Lewandowski was of course on the scoresheet.
Bayern also won both meetings last season 3-0, but with a resurgent Barca now armed with Lewandowski, a much closer encounter is anticipated this time around.
We asked our Eurosport colleagues in Spain and Germany what impact Lewandowski’s move will have on the game and what reception he will get on his return…
‘XAVI DOESN’T NEED TO ASK FOR ANYTHING SPECIAL FROM DEADLIEST STRIKER IN THE WORLD’
To the shock of everybody, Lewandowski actually drew a blank on his Barca debut in a 0-0 draw with Rayo Vallecano, but before anybody had the opportunity to raise the question of whether he would take time to adapt to his new surroundings, he scored back-to-back braces against Real Sociedad and Valladolid.
A further strike followed against Sevilla before the hat-trick against Plzen and another goal in the most recent win over Cadiz.
Despite this remarkable start however, Eurosport Spain’s Felix Martin says few people were surprised to see him hit the ground running, and credits Barca head coach Xavi for not trying to complicate things.
“Lewandowski’s fame and capacity to score goals was already well known in Spain,” he said. “The surprising thing would have been that he had not scored in his first games with Barcelona or that he had problems in his adaptation to Xavi’s system or his new team-mates. But week after week he keeps proving that he’s one of the best strikers in the world.
“I don’t honestly think Xavi has done anything special but giving him minutes and making him feel important. Lewandowski is one of the best players in the world. He is most likely the deadliest striker in the world with Erling Haaland, and I think that when it comes to a player of his calibre and professionalism, the coach doesn’t need to ask for anything special.”
Lewandowski wasn’t the only huge summer signing at Barca. As has been well-documented, the club were able to almost completely revamp their team to add to the talent already at their disposal. Martin believes that Lewandowski has been able to slot in seamlessly at the club and the benefits can be seen on the pitch.
“He has quite a good connection with Ousmane Dembele,” he added. “And he’s been combining really well with Pedri, playing those ‘give and go’ passes that are a Barca trademark. He has been receiving really good passes from Raphinha as well.
HURT EGOS WILL MAKE BARCA WANT TO SHOW THEY CAN COMPETE
Undoubtedly, the spectre of the 8-2 hangs heavy over this fixture and while such scorelines tend to be a freak occurrence, at the time it seemed to signal the start of a demise at Barcelona.
Two years on, the club and team are in a much better place, although with the two one-sided defeats last season, Martin says there is a feeling that Barcelona are at least long overdue a good performance against their German counterparts, one that could go some way to demonstrating their Champions League credentials, regardless of the result.
“I believe that neither Xavi or any Barca player will officially say anything about getting their revenge,” he said. “But I believe that deep inside their ‘ego’ has been hurt and they want to show their cards and prove that they can compete against every team in Europe this year.
“Pretty much every big team loses some points in the group stage, which can mean a more difficult rival in the knockout stage, but I don’t think a potential defeat would mean anything when it comes to their chances to win the Champions League.”
‘BAYERN’S BURDEN OF SCORING NOW ON SEVERAL SHOULDERS’
In contrast to Barcelona’s flying start in La Liga, Bayern have stuttered so far in the Bundesliga. Although unbeaten, they’ve drawn three of their opening six games including a 2-2 draw in their last match at home to a struggling Stuttgart.
On whether this can be put down to the adjustment to life without Lewandowski, Eurosport Germany’s Florian Bogner believes it may be a factor with manager Julian Nagelsmann still figuring out what to due in the Polish star’s absence.
“Nobody would admit this at Bayern, but for sure [he is missed]. He scored 40-plus goals per season for eight years at Bayern. Now they have to lay the ‘burden’ of goal scoring on several shoulders, but, as the last Bundesliga matches showed, they are struggling a little bit in tight matches to be efficient enough.
“He [Nagelsmann] is rotating and moving offensive players around a lot. The number one option is to play Sadio Mane in front, who had a decent start with five goals in nine matches and could have scored even more (some goals disallowed by VAR).
“Last game he played Thomas Muller in the attack, which never has been his best position to shine. In the longer term, Mathys Tel could be an option for No. 9, but the 17-year-old needs time and for now he plays on the wing, when he’s featured.”
‘A GOOD CHANCE HE WILL SCORE’
The loss of their star striker aside, Bayern have kept just two clean sheets in the league so far and there are questions over whether the current team and their defensive set-up is equipped to deal with a player in the form of Lewandowski.
“Not sure,” says Bogner. “Barca’s counter-attacks are fierce and Bayern haven’t found a decent formation to keep a clean sheet. Matthijs de Ligt is not the reinforcement they hoped for yet. So there’s a good chance that Lewandowski will score against his old team.”
Beyond Lewandowski, Barca’s attack has looked devastating so far and Bogner believes there are other players in Xavi’s side that Bayern ought to be concerned about.
“Definitely Dembele with his recent form. His ability to make the game extremely fast could cause a lot of problems for Bayern.”
WHAT RECEPTION WILL LEWANDOWSKI GET?
While Lewandowski’s natural familiarity with the Allianz is likely to make it an uncomfortable night for those that for so long cheered his name, it remains to be seen how the fans will react to his homecoming.
The player basically requesting a transfer suggests the departure involved some level of acrimony between himself and the club, and Bogner says there is likely to be a split between those whole will turn on Lewandowksi and those who will point the finger at the Bayern hierarchy.
“Torn,” he says. “There will be whistles and booing for sure, but a good portion of the fans will also still love and respect him for what he has done for the club.
“Also some of the fans see the ‘fault’ for Lewandowski’s transfer in the club boardroom, not entirely on the player’s side.