Bayern Munich have stumbled to successive 1-1 league draws against teams ranked at the time second in the Bundesliga, and the critics are circling. The Athletic wrote in their Champions League preview that “Bayern have not been their usual dominant selves in the Bundesliga this season” — as if they had not watched any of the blistering start to 2022/23. And of course, the loudest voices are going for the lowest-hanging fruit, tying Bayern’s scoring dip to the departure of Robert Lewandowski this summer to FC Barcelona.
Not Lothar Matthäus! The Bavarian legend isn’t afraid to speak his mind when he has criticisms to make, but this time he’s coming to his old club’s defense. Via Az:
“If [Gladbach keeper] Yann Sommer does not hold so, the game goes out 8:1, then you do not look for Lewandowski,” said[Lothar] with regard to the recent home match of the German record champion against Borussia Mönchengladbach (1:1) to the Sport-Informations-Dienst (SID).
Memories are indeed short in football, and it’s as if many have forgotten that Bayern galloped out of the gates this season — their seventeen league goals leads the Bundesliga, and the next closest are Union Berlin, who earned last weekend’s scrappy draw against the Rekordmeister. One heroic keeper’s performance — an all-timer, at that — and one faltering game against an in-form team. Is that really enough to justify the boo birds?
Not in the overall context of coach Julian Nagelsmann’s project, Matthäus argues. Bayern’s striker-less vision presented this year has been compelling.
“You now have other options and play a different kind of soccer,” Matthäus points out. “You no longer have someone who is constantly present in the penalty area, but others who push or sprint in there.”
The new style should in fact be the one favored by Nagelsmann anyway, who burst onto the coaching scene without the luxury of a traditional star-powered nine. Matthäus therefore understands completely why Bayern didn’t go after the traditional profile in this transfer window.
But that’s not a knock on Lewandowski himself. The Polish hitman is enjoying life in La Liga and hitting his stride again — as well as showing the Spanish giants how it’s done.
“There is no one better,” Matthäus said of Bayern’s former striker.
Lewandowski is gone, though, and there’s no changing that now. Still, perhaps we can accept the change of direction without reaching for tired narratives at the earliest opportunity. In that regard, Matthäus is setting the tone in the world of football punditry.