Bayern look to Lewandowski in bid to catch title challengers
BERLIN, Aug 30, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Polish striker Robert Lewandowski will
once again take centre-stage as Bayern Munich look to catch up with their
Bundesliga title challengers with a home win over strugglers Mainz on
Two days after signing a new contract which will keep him at the club until
2023, the 31-year-old will be eager to add to the six goals he has also
scored this season, even as champions Bayern dropped early points in the
His hat-trick against Schalke last week fired Bayern to their first league
win of the season, keeping Niko Kovac’s side within two points of rivals
Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen.
Lewandowski’s decision to extend his contract is a massive boost to Bayern
as they look to retain the Bundesliga title and reimpose themselves as a
major European power.
“He has a lot of responsibility here at Bayern, and he lives up to that,”
said coach Kovac on Thursday before the announcement of the new contract was
“(The contract extension) is also a sign of how important the club is to
Lewandowski has more than proved his worth in recent weeks, and more goals
are expected on Saturday afternoon.
The Polish star has a sparkling record of 14 goals in 17 appearances
against Mainz, who have lost their opening two games. – Hazard out for
With Lewandowski’s contract negotiations and uncertainty over the future of
club president Uli Hoeness off-field matters have somewhat overshadowed
Bayern’s preparations this week.
Yet Kovac’s side, who sit in a lowly sixth thanks to their opening day draw
with Hertha Berlin, cannot afford any on-field slips on Saturday.
Dortmund, Leipzig and Leverkusen finished in the top four behind Bayern
last season, and all have picked up maximum points from their opening two
Kovac admitted on Thursday that Bayern may face more competitors for the
title than they have in previous years.
“I think the same teams will be at the top again. The gap between those at
the top and mid-table will get bigger,” he said.
Leipzig travel to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday evening, while
Leverkusen host Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Table-toppers Dortmund face a reunion with former player Neven Subotic on
their visit to promoted side Union Berlin on Saturday evening.
Subotic, who alongside Lewandowski won back-to-back Bundesliga titles for
Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp in 2011 and 2012, said this week that he was
still close to his former team-mates.
“What we experienced together back then, it was bit like going to the moon.
You try to explain to other people what it was like, but words aren’t
enough,” he told broadcaster RTL.
Yet Subotic, who moved to Union before the beginning of the season, said
that even at Dortmund, he had never experienced support quite like that at
the East Berlin club.
“I have experienced a lot, but the way the Union fans celebrated us after
we lost 4-0 to RB Leipzig, I have never experienced anything like that,” he
Union, still searching for their first ever Bundesliga win, face a
formidable Dortmund side who have scored eight goals in their first two
Dortmund coach Lucien Favre will have to do without Belgian winger Thorgan
Hazard, who has been ruled out for several weeks after picking up a rib
injury against Cologne last weekend.
Hazard’s fellow new arrival Julian Brandt is therefore expected to make his
first start for Dortmund.
Bundesliga fixtures (kick-off times 1330 GMT unless stated):
Borussia Moenchengladbach v RB Leipzig (1830)
Bayern Munich v Mainz, Bayer Leverkusen v Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg v
Paderborn, Freiburg v Cologne, Schalke v Hertha Berlin, Union Berlin v
Borussia Dortmund (1630)
Werder Bremen v Augsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt v Fortuna Duesseldorf (1600)