Berlin: Robert Lewandowski is convinced that Bayern Munich’s players face the most challenging year of their careers going into the 2020-21 season, where they seek to defend last season’s treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.
“Everyone will be desperate to beat Europe’s top team,” the 32-year-old said ahead of the Bavarians’ 2020-21 Bundesliga curtain-raiser against Schalke on Friday. “Staying at the top might be much harder than getting to the top. One has to consider all the possible details both on and off the pitch.”
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The Pole spoke about his side’s determination to repeat last season’s success. “We did something big, but to go on successfully means forgetting about the past,” said Poland’s captain.
Having to play every two to three days after only one week of rest “is the biggest challenge all of us have had to face in their career so far”.
“We love that challenge.”
The Bayern striker indicated his club might use different line-ups and tactical approaches to get through the season.
“In the Champions League’s final round, we had many players able to go full tilt all the time for the tournament-like competition. But over an entire season, we have to talk about adjustments and use our heads.”
One piece of good news is that the record German champions have “so many young players and all of them are as hungry as the established ones. You can feel it in every training session,” the 2019-20 Champions League’s top scorer said.
Every Bayern player has to forget his ego and act smartly as everyone will need a break now, he added. “Success is all about the players’ contribution to the team.”
Lewandowski also expects to see Bayern’s new arrival Leroy Sane moving up a gear after joining in from Manchester City.
“I always try to push him to do things he didn’t know he can do. His potential is huge,” the Pole said and spoke about sprint duels he has started in training in order to challenge the 25-year-old German international.
Despite all the challenges ahead, Bayern can do it again, Lewandowski commented.
However, they have already lost three of the Champions League-winning squad.
Ivan Perisic, Philippe Coutinho and Alvaro Odriozola have returned to Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively, after their loan deals expired.
“We have to make up for it,” head coach Hansi Flick admitted with Bayern facing Sevilla in the Uefa Super Cup and Borussia Dortmund for the German Super Cup in the coming fortnight.
Bayern want to sign a winger, to back up Sane, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry with Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi again on their radar. They also want a defender.
“The current team of Hansi Flick is perhaps the best Bayern team ever,” Hans-Joachim Watzke, chief executive of arch rivals Borussia Dortmund, declared last month.
“They no longer beat their opponents - they destroy them.”