Robert Lewandowski played an excellent game against Schalke 04 on Saturday evening. He roamed all over the pitch, dropped deep to help with buildup, showed outstanding chemistry with his teammates, and, not least, made a goal and an absolutely stunning assist. And WHAT an assist:
Bicycle kick... assist??— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 9, 2019
BICYCLE KICK ASSIST!!! @lewy_official @SergeGnabry pic.twitter.com/UfxGDsapFo
As the old refrain in professional sports goes, the best way to silence the critics is with your performance. But Lewandowski had more than just his stats today to speak for him. Bayern Munich’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic wielded the microphone like a blunt weapon in speaking to the press after the game. Salihamidzic told Sky after the game (Bild):
On our team, I have to highlight Robert Lewandowski. He’s playing like a leader; he’s playing his most complete season. He goes all out for the team, is our top scorer. I cannot understand why Didi Hamann criticizes [Lewandowski]. What he’s doing is, I think, simply a campaign against him, because I think he can’t watch the games properly. I don’t think that Robert Lewandowski is a problem for Bayern, but rather that Didi Hamann is a problem for Sky. Sky will have to think about that.
Bild’s Patrick Wasserziehr countered Salihamidzic, insisting on the contrary that Hamann was simply stating his opinion, adding that a campaign would have to serve some purpose. Salihamidzic replied:
That doesn’t have anything to do with being a (TV) expert, when you make such statements. That’s why, I think, nobody outside can understand it. What’s important is that the spectators see how Robert Lewandowski plays. And when an expert says, after such a game, after such a season, that Robert is a problem, then nobody on the outside can accept that.
Salihamidzic further contrasted Hamann with Bayern legend Lothar Matthäus, also a commentator for Sky, who had “distanced himself from Didi’s view.” In sum, so Brazzo,
You have to see who has a clue. Lothar Matthäus is a good expert, and Didi Hamann is waging a campaign, and that’s not good.
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was as withering as Salihamidzic with a fraction of the words. Asked to comment about Hamann’s critique of Lewandowski, he replied, “He’s not worth a sentence from me.”
Hoeness also critical of Lewandowski
There was also, however, some dissatisfaction within the club after the game against Schalke. Bayern club president Uli Hoeness was also asked about Lewandowski’s performance. His reply (Sport1):
If he had had a super performance, he would have scored four goals today.
Lewandowski indeed missed several solid chances to add to Bayern’s tally, most notably on chances created by James Rodriguez, who deserved far more than just 4 key passes from open play (point three in our match observations!). But Brazzo was quick to take Lewy’s back, noting the 120+ minutes the striker played against Hertha Berlin in the DFB Pokal on Wednesday:
I have to contradict Uli. [Lewandowski] has 120 minutes in his bones. When a striker is tired, then he lacks the final will to score a goal. Uli Hoeness knows that. And Robert Lewandowski knows that, too.
Lewandowski himself was slightly annoyed by Hoeness’s dismissive criticism:
Four goals? Well, at least one more. But where are the third and fourth ones? After 120 minutes in the cup match, after many battles, after the first extremely intense 45 minutes against Schalke, it can happen that you lack concentration by a few percent. Even in the penalty area it can happen that you lack exactly this 2 percent.
As for Didi Hamann, Lewandowski is done:
I know his story. What should I say about him? Better to say nothing. There’s no need to comment on that.