Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski finished as Ballon d’Or runner-up behind Lionel Messi, and Xavi has made his feelings clear on the decision
After missing out on the Ballon d’Or in 2020 when the ceremony was cancelled, Robert Lewandowski fell just short in the race for the 2021 award.
Lewandowski was named Striker of the Year, but missed out on top honours to Lionel Messi after the votes were counted.
“The Ballon d’Or belongs to Robert Lewandowski. Robert was not robbed, but he is the man who deserves it,” Zahavi said.
Not everyone agrees, though, and Barcelona manager Xavi has – perhaps unsurprisingly – sided with his former teammate Messi after a record seventh win.
The timing of the former Spain midfielder’s comments couldn’t be better for Lewandowski, though, with the Pole having a near-instant opportunity to make his case all over again.
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Lewandowski scored for fun last season, and has carried on his fine form in front of goal in the first half of the 2021-22 season with 30 for club and country in just 26 appearances.
However, speaking in a press conference ahead of Barcelona’s league game against Real Betis, Xavi was clear in his assessment.
“Messi’s win is footballing justice,” the former Al-Sadd manager said, as translated by Marca.
“We can also think that others might deserve it, but the moment they open the envelope and they say Messi won it then it’s fair.”
Messi himself suggested more opportunities would come for Lewandowski and for Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who missed out on a podium place altogether.
However, the Bayern man is just days away from getting an opportunity to force Xavi to eat his words, as well as sending a reminder to those voting for the 2021 Ballon d’Or award.
The 33-year-old scored twice at Camp Nou in September as the Bundesliga champions beat a sorry Barcelona by three goals to nil, and the stakes are even higher for the upcoming return clash.
Bayern’s status as winners of Group E is already secure, after five wins from five and a spectacular 19 goals, nine of which have come from Lewandowski himself.
For Barca, however, the situation is much more precarious.
They could have been eliminated in gameweek five with some better finishing from Benfica’s Haris Seferovic, and anything other than a win at the Allianz Arena will open the door for the Portuguese side to progress with a win over already-eliminated Dynamo Kyiv.
Bayern could be tempted to go easy and rest some players during the week, with the game falling in between tricky league clashes against Borussia Dortmund and Mainz, but Xavi’s comments might well have given Lewandowski all the motivation he needs to demand he gets a run-out just to prove a point.
The last time Bayern and Lewandowski took on Barcelona with a chance to eliminate them from the competition was the quarter-final clash back in August 2020.
We all know what happened that night, and that was with Messi in the Barca team.