Barcelona have Lionel Messi, Bayern have Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski is a machine. His well-taken brace against Olympiacos tonight adds a further two goals to his ever-growing tally this season, which now rests at a whopping 18 goals in just 12 appearances for Bayern Munich. His consistent performances and outstanding output mean Bayern Munich get away at the right end of most nervy games.
Today was no different. Lewandowski showed once again why he is Bayern’s only “x-factor” and how dependent the Bavarians are on their Polish star-striker. Whether it is finding himself in the right position at the right time or linking up Bayern’s attacking outlet, Lewandowski is just as important for Bayern as Lionel Messi is for Barcelona.
It has been a month since Bayern kept a clean sheet. Right now, Bayern win games due to their ability to score goals. It is at times worrying how dependent Bayern are on their 31-year-old superstar. Today was another proof that the team’s success circles around the performances of the Polish international.
Injuries keep traumatising Bayern
Another game, another potentially season-threatening injury. Lucas Hernandez went off the pitch limping after what looked like an injury to his ankle or Achilles. After last weekend’s injury to Niklas Süle, Bayern’s defensive line looks significantly thinner in terms of depth.
With only two natural center-backs fully fit, it seems like Niko Kovac will be forced either to play Benjamin Pavard and Jerome Boateng for most of the games or to call up Lars Lukas Mai from the youth team and start giving him minutes. Javi Martinez was also subbed out for Tolisso for what seemed like another injury, and although it didn’t seem as serious. This is cause for concern as well, as Martinez would have been a valuable part of Bayern’s center-back rotation.
Unless the remaining center-backs remain fit and Hernandez makes a swift recovery, the team will face a very turbulent conclusion to the Hinrunde. This winter transfer window, Bayern seriously need to consider the possibility of bringing in another center-back as hopes of venturing deep into the Champions League rely heavily on a full and healthy squad.
Defensive woes still the mainstream at Bayern
Olympiacos should get loads of credit for putting up a great fight and giving their all in what was for them one of the home games of the season. Nevertheless, Bayern really should have won comfortably, if not for some defensive gaffes that could have been prevented. Manuel Neuer could have done better on the first goal, and the second goal was the result of a poor midfield giveaway and a deflected handball off Thiago. It seems like every time any opponent of Bayern attempts a goal, it is somehow always on target and somehow always finds the back of the net.
Granted, maybe both goals were hard to prevent, but we see a disturbing trend here: Bayern are conceding consistently against teams that they should otherwise be able to comfortably defeat on their day. In the last Champions League game, Bayern’s shaky defense was not highlighted as much as the offense produced seven goals. Today, though, and against Augsburg on the weekend, Bayern suddenly seem to lack a clinical edge, which is required to take the pressure off the defense a bit.
On the whole, a win is a win, and Bayern came away with 3 points without conceding any late goals (!) and put the match to bed. That said, there are many things the team needs to improve on going forward if they are to have a successful season.
Also, gute Besserung, Lucas und Javi!