Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski branded ‘spectacular’ after historic Champions League hat-trick
Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez says he’s already run out of praise for the ‘spectacular’ Robert Lewandowski after the striker’s hat-trick in Wednesday’s 5-1 Champions League win over Viktoria Pilsen.
Lewandowski, 34, took his tally for Barca to eight in five games since his €45million move from Bayern Munich, while he also overtook Karim Benzema to become the third-highest goalscorer in club history. the Champions League.
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The Poland international has now scored 89 goals in the competition. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (140) and Lionel Messi (125) have managed more.
“I’m running out of praise for him,” Xavi said after the game. “He got a hat trick, but it’s not just that. It’s how he plays and how he gets the team to play, find the third man, read space perfectly, press…
“I am delighted [with him]. He was a fantastic recruit. He gives us so many solutions in attack, he is a leader, a winner… [just] a fantastic, fantastic signing.”
Franck Kessie had opened the scoring for Barca before Lewandowski scored his hat-trick, becoming the first player to score Champions League hat-tricks for three different teams, having done so previously for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich .
“I don’t know if he’s the best No.9 in the world, but he’s the best No.9 for us,” Xavi added when asked if there is a better striker in the game that in-form Lewandowski.
“If he’s not the best, he’s up there with Benzema and the others, [Erling] Haaland is also there. But, without comparison, Robert is spectacular and it’s an honor to have him in the team.”
Substitute Ferran Torres added Barca’s fifth goal at Camp Nou, hanging on to a pass from Ousmane Dembele. The French winger also netted Lewandowski’s second goal earlier, and Xavi sees elements of Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar in him.
“There aren’t many in football like him, in terms of a pure winger who is very difficult to defend against,” the Barca boss said.
“You have to take advantage of his qualities. He’s happy, he’s having fun. He’s an important player who makes the difference, scores goals, creates… he’s a dagger on the wing.
“The one-on-one quality he has is at Neymar’s level when he’s at his best. He needs to be bolder and shoot more, but he’s a good lad and he makes the difference in games. “
Barca remain unbeaten in five games in all competitions this season, but Xavi says it’s too early to say he’s back after winning just one Copa del Rey in the past three seasons.
Larger tests remain, especially in Europe. The Blaugrana travel to Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the Champions League after the German champions started their campaign with a 2-0 away win at Inter Milan on Wednesday in the other group game.
“It’s soon to say [Barca are back]”, added Xavi. “We are very happy with the performance, but it’s only three points and a game at home. We still have to go to Munich, to Milan. It’s a tough group. We must remain humble; it is just beginning.”