Stats & Links: Who works with whom?

The fact that Robert Lewandowski scores a lot of goals and Joshua Kimmich sets up a lot of goals is certainly no secret. But does the German international also set up the most Lewandowski goals or does the Pole have another favourite partner for his goals? And how do things look with the striker’s shots on goal? Author: Maurice • Translator: Sam

With help from Stratabet statistics, we’ve tried to find answers for these questions.

Dream team Lewandowski and Robben?

In the past there were often many public discussions about whether Robben and Lewandowski could play together or whether their respective egos stood in the way of a successful partnership. The Dutchman’s remonstrative gestures in his strike partner’s direction remain only too clearly in the memory.

Distribution of chances on goal according to assister and shooter.
(Visual: Lukas)

From the help of statistics, that discussion can, however, be put to rest. The above graph plots which players laid on how many shots on goal for which other player in the 2017/18 season just gone. The bigger and bolder the circle, the stronger the connection between the two players.

The chart clearly shows that the relationship between Lewandowski and Robben isn’t dysfunctional. The Pole has by far the most shots of all Bayern players, coming in at 137 last season. Most of these shots were set up by Kimmich (21). Following Kimmich are Müller (20), Rodriguez (16), Ribery (13) and finally in fifth place Robben (11).

The other way around, Lewandowski set up eight of Robben’s shots – meaning most of Robben’s shots came via his Polish striking colleague. Then we have Kimmich and Robben’s long-time partner in crime Ribery in the next positions. Robben is also the player who Lewandowski set up for shots the most.

The Lewandowski-Robben duo set each other up for 19 shots in total last season. That tally is topped by few other duos at Bayern. Combination between the two works on the pitch, then, even if it sometimes looks otherwise.

Müller’s special wire to Lewandowski

The self-named “raumdeuter” Thomas Müller was mostly used by Heynckes in the orbit of the main striker. That also explains why the German international set up 20 of Lewandowski’s shots.

Overview of goal scorers and the direct assisters.
(Visual: Lukas)

In this representation we can now see, differently from above, all the goalscorers from last season and who set up those goals. That can’t be equated exactly with the official assist tally.

In total Müller set up 17 of Bayern’s goals last season. Twelve of these fell to an attacker and nine to Lewandowski. The freedom that the Bavarian mainstay got from the coach certainly bore fruit.

It’s interesting, however, that a proper two-way exchange between Müller and Lewandowski never developed. The number nine set up merely five shots for his partner, with one of those resulting in a goal. Most of Müller’s chances were created by Rodriguez and Kimmich (8 each).

A stronger interaction between the two would certainly make Bayern’s game more unpredictable and dangerous.

Assist monsters James and Kimmich

To conclude we should elaborate briefly on the two players who set up the most shots and goals. A total of 90 shots were assisted by James. Following him were Kimmich with 77 shots and Müller with 75 shots.

In terms of the goal assists, the tables turn in favour of the right-back, who had a decisive hand in a total of 14 goals, while the Columbian assisted just eleven goals.

In spite of that, it’s evident that James as a playmaker in attack is extremely important for Bayern’s game. Kimmich’s value as a tireless worker down the right flank is emphasised likewise by these statistics. That becomes particularly clear when one links at Kimmich’s counterpart on the left side of defence. The Austrian international Alaba set up just 35 shots.

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