Bayern Munich can't afford to waste Robert Lewandowski by appointing wrong coach

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  • Life without Niko Kovac started well enough for Bayern Munich as the clockwork finishing of Robert Lewandowski ensured safe passage to the Champions League knockout stages.

    Olympiakos keeper Jose Sa won his personal duel with Kingsley Coman, but could do nothing about the nonchalant flick from Lewandowski that broke the deadlock on 69 minutes.

    Substitute Ivan Perisic wrapped up the game at the death almost as soon as he came on, but the story of the night was – once again – Lewandowski’s largesse in front of goal.

    Lew beginnings

    Whoever takes over as Bayern boss – former RB Leipzig chief Ralf Rangnick is thought to have ruled himself out of the running, while it has been reported that the club are not considering Arsene Wenger – there’s one thing they needn’t change.

    Lewandowski has scored a mind-boggling 21 goals in 17 games in all competitions and is now just seven away from notching up the 400th of his professional career.

    Taking last season into account, the Pole has strung together eight Champions League group games in which he has found the net, a record only matched by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

    Goal-poaching is just one of his delicacies. With his back to goal, the 31-year-old can find a man from all angles, taking a split second to process his next move.

    Bayern’s next appointment is so crucial because this season, especially due to the imperfections of the other Champions League contenders, is by no means a write-off. They can’t afford to waste the peak of Lewandowski’s powers, however long it lasts.

    Can Goretzka Flick the switch?

    Hans-Dieter Flick was hardly going to shred the script in the whirlwind 24 hours between his interim appointment and first match, but a few edits were required with the next installment of Der Klassiker on Saturday looming large.

    Javi Martinez applied more sellotape to Bayern’s ravaged defence alongside left-now-centre-back David Alaba, but defending was the least of their concerns on Wednesday night as Olympiakos didn’t muster a shot on target all night.

    Of more curiosity was former Germany assistant Flick’s decision to reintroduce Leon Goretzka to the starting XI, after a disrupted start to the campaign with an injured thigh.

    With Joshua Kimmich operating as the No.6, sweeping up loose ends from Olympiakos clearances and spraying the ball out to Coman and Serge Gnabry on the wings, Goretzka had a largely free role to pull at the seams of a stretched opposition midfield.

    That didn’t materialise. In fact, aside from a far-post header that the Germany international really should have buried, the 24-year-old’s impact on the game was next to null.

    It’s long been a suspicion that Goretzka’s rather helpful habit of scoring goals has somewhat masked his deficiencies elsewhere.

    To only touch the ball 50 times on a night on which Bayern held the ball at will – only Lewandowski at the tip of the formation took fewer – speaks of a player struggling to pry open space.

    Having been used on the wings, at full-back, deep and high up in midfield in his past, nailing down a space continues to be a problem for Goretzka.