Bay­ern plots more woes on Dort­mund

Le­wandowski’s re­turn to boost con­fi­dence

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS -

Robert Le­wandowski is set to re­turn to ac­tion for Bay­ern Mu­nich this week­end as they look to score an im­por­tant vic­tory over trou­bled ti­tle ri­vals Borus­sia Dort­mund.

The Pol­ish star missed Tues­day’s Cham­pi­ons League clash against Celtic with a back prob­lem, but is ex­pected to be fit to face his former club at Sig­nal Iduna Park on Satur­day.

Le­wandowski’s re­turn will boost a Bay­ern side who are al­ready full of con­fi­dence af­ter their re­vival in re­cent weeks.

Satur­day’s fix­ture is an op­por­tu­nity to ex­tend their lead in the ti­tle race and heap more mis­ery on a Dort­mund side cur­rently in cri­sis.

De­spite in­juries to Le­wandowski, Franck Ribery and Thomas Mueller, Bay­ern have turned things around since Carlo Ancelotti was sacked at the end of Septem­ber.

Un­der suc­ces­sor Jupp Heynckes, the cham­pi­ons have won six games out of six. They have over­turned Dort­mund’s five-point ad­van­tage to claim top spot in the Bun­desliga, notched up league and cup vic­to­ries over RB Leipzig, and se­cured qual­i­fi­ca­tion to the knock­out stages of the Cham­pi­ons League.

“We have taken a huge step in the last few weeks,” Bay­ern for­ward Ar­jen Robben said. “Three weeks ago, I wouldn’t have be­lieved you if you’d told me where we are now. But we have to keep our feet on the ground.”

Dort­mund, by con­trast, have en­dured a dis­as­trous few weeks. Peter Bosz’s side have won just one of their last six games, drop­ping to sec­ond af­ter de­feats to both RB Leipzig and Hanover 96.

Con­sec­u­tive draws against APOEL Ni­cosia have com­pounded their mis­ery, de­stroy­ing any hope of qual­i­fi­ca­tion from their Cham­pi­ons League group.

Un­der-fire coach Bosz, how­ever, has claimed that he sees Satur­day’s fix­ture against Bay­ern as an op­por­tu­nity.

“Maybe this game is com­ing at ex­actly the right mo­ment,” said Bosz. “At the begin­ning of the sea­son, peo­ple were ex­pect­ing a lot from us.”

Ex­pec­ta­tions have cer­tainly dropped dra­mat­i­cally in re­cent weeks. Just three weeks ago, Dort­mund were be­ing de­scribed as ti­tle favourites. Lose on Satur­day, and they will find them­selves six points be­hind Bay­ernin the ta­ble.

The cri­sis has co­in­cided with a goal drought for Le­wandowski’s op­po­site num­ber Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang. The Gabonese striker has failed to score in his last five ap­pear­ances for Dort­mund.

The team’s big­gest prob­lem, though, re­mains the de­fence. Dort­mund have con­ceded nine goals in their last three league games, lead­ing to crit­i­cism of Bosz’s tac­ti­cal ap­proach in the Ger­man me­dia.

The Dutch coach has re­peat­edly de­fended his at­tack­ing phi­los­o­phy, and this week in­sisted that he will stick to his guns against Bay­ern.

“We will not try to park the bus in front of goal, that’s not the way we play,” said Bosz.

Bosz is ex­pected to make sev­eral changes to the team which faced APOEL in mid­week, with Mar­cel Sch­melzer, An­driy Yar­molenko and Gon­zalo Cas­tro set to re­turn to the start­ing lineup.

Jerome Boateng and Kings­ley Co­man are ex­pected to defy in­jury con­cerns and start for Bay­ern, while former Dort­mund de­fender Mats Hum­mels will also re­turn to ac­tion, hav­ing been rested in Glas­gow in mid­week.

Like Le­wandowski, Hum­mels will be hop­ing that he can deal his old club a sig­nif­i­cant blow in the Bun­desliga ti­tle race with vic­tory this week­end.

Robert Le­wandowski, striker of Bay­ern Mu­nich

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