Bayern Munich continued their storming start to the Bundesliga campaign with a thumping 7-0 rout of promoted Bochum at the Allianz Arena.

Leroy Sane's brilliant free-kick opened the floodgates on Saturday and Julian Nagelsmann's side did not look back as they cruised to a seventh straight win in all competitions.

Vasilios Lampropoulos' own goal capped off a torrid first half for Bochum, with Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry having previously netted.

Another record fell to Robert Lewandowski in the second half, as he became the first player in Bundesliga history to net in 13 consecutive home matches, and Kimmich helped himself to a second before Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting got in on the act to complete the scoring.

The signs were ominous from the first whistle and the only surprise was it taking until the 17th minute for Bayern to hit the front.

Sane made the breakthrough, curling a superb 25-yard free-kick beyond the wall and into the left-hand corner.

Gnabry was denied a wonderful goal by a clearance off the line soon after, though Kimmich swiftly made it 2-0 as his shot on the turn deflected over the helpless Manuel Riemann.

It was 3-0 with just over half an hour played, Gnabry sliding a crisp finish across Riemann, while Armel Bella Kotchap was fortunate not to slice into his own net.

Lampropoulos was not so lucky, panicking under pressure from Lewandowski and skewing into Bochum's goal just before half-time.

Having just failed to turn in a close-range rebound, Lewandowski had no such trouble moments later when he nudged home from a yard out after Sane's cutback was diverted into his path.

Bochum substitute Silvere Ganvoula thought he had snatched a consolation, only for the offside flag to cut short his celebrations. Bayern went down the other end and added a sixth, Kimmich's touch from Leon Goretzka's header clipping in off the upright.

There was time for another, substitute Choupo-Moting converting at the third attempt after a fine double save from Riemann to cap off an emphatic win, with Thomas Muller having a late goal disallowed by VAR.

What does it mean? Bayern purring under Nagelsmann

Since the 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach to start his tenure, Nagelsmann has seen his Bayern side win seven games in a row across all competitions, and just this past week they have beaten both his former side RB Leipzig and Barcelona.

Saturday's win was their largest margin of victory in the Bundesliga under the new coach, and Bayern sit pretty at the top of the table, though they could be overtaken by Wolfsburg should they beat Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Lewy keeps in the hunt

Lewandowski has now scored in 15 successive Bundesliga matches. Only one player – the late, great Gerd Muller – has ever netted in more consecutive games in Germany's top tier (16).

The Poland star also set a record here, overtaking Muller and Jupp Heynckes by scoring in a 13th straight home match in the league.

Bochum suffer another Bayern defeat

Bayern have now lost only one of the past 28 Bundesliga games against Bochum (W20 D7); 0-1 away from home in February 2004. At home, the Bavarians have lost only one of the 35 top-flight matches against Bochum – a 0-2 loss back in August 1991.

Indeed, Bayern have now won each of their previous seven competitive matches against Bochum. Only between 1978 to 1982 have they embarked on a longer winning run against them (eight).

What's next?

Another promoted side, Greuther Furth, come next for Bayern in six days' time, while Bochum host Stuttgart next Sunday.

Could Jurgen Klopp and Robert Lewandowski be set to work together again?

The pair enjoyed a successful partnership at Borussia Dortmund.

Now, Klopp is reportedly trying to lure the Bayern Munich forward to Liverpool.

 

TOP STORY – KLOPP WANTS LEWANDOWSKI REUNION

Liverpool are targeting Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, according to Fichajes.

Lewandowski worked with Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund before joining Bundesliga rivals Bayern in 2014.

There has been talk Lewandowski could be ready for a new challenge amid links to Real Madrid and Manchester City, though Klopp is reportedly determined to reunite with the Poland international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bild claims Dortmund have identified Chelsea forward Timo Werner as a possible option to replace Erling Haaland. Club are queueing up to sign Haaland, with City, Manchester United, Bayern, Liverpool, Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain all reportedly interested. Should Haaland leave Dortmund, the Bundesliga outfit reportedly see former RB Leipzig star Werner as a potential successor.

- Fabrizio Romano says Inter forward Lautaro Martinez is nearing a contract extension at San Siro. He has reportedly turned down offers from Tottenham and Atletico Madrid.

Bayern, Inter, Real Madrid and Tottenham are interested in Borussia Monchengladbach defender Matthias Ginter, reports Calciomercato.

Chelsea are looking to sign Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen to new contracts, according to Romano.

Robert Lewandowski described Bayern Munich's trip to Camp Nou as the "perfect day" after the red-hot striker scored twice in a 3-0 Champions League win over Barcelona.

Bayern kicked off their 2021-22 Champions League campaign with a comprehensive victory at Barca thanks to Lewandowski's brace and Thomas Muller's opener on Tuesday.

Lewandowski has scored in his last 18 appearances for Bayern, netting 29 goals in a run that stretches back to February in all competitions.

In the last three seasons since the start of the 2019-20 season, Lewandowski has scored 113 goals in 93 appearances for Bayern – 36 more than any other player in Europe's big five leagues in that time (Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo on 76 goals each).

"It's always nice to be on the pitch and hear the UCL anthem with the crowd. That's a great feeling," Lewandowski said post-match.

"Sure, the stadium wasn't quite full, but hopefully everything will be back to normal soon."

Barcelona offered little going forward and failed to get a shot on target, the first time they have posed such a meek threat in a Champions League game since at least 2003-04, according to Opta.

Bundesliga titleholders Bayern have won their opening match in each of the 18 Champions League seasons by an aggregate score of 45-2.

"We can be satisfied with our performance. It was good. We showed from the very first minute that we wanted to win," Lewandowski added.

"We were in control of the game, that was important. Barca rarely threatened our goal. It was a perfect day."

 

Julian Nagelsmann promised to enjoy Bayern Munich's 3-0 win at Barcelona with "a couple of drinks" as he pointed to how obviously the hosts are missing Lionel Messi.

Argentine great Messi played 149 Champions League games for Barcelona, scoring 120 goals and claiming 35 assists, but his switch to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in August has left a void.

Without him, Barcelona offered little going forward and failed to get a shot on target, the first time they have posed such a meek threat in a Champions League game since at least 2003-04, Opta said.

When they were thumped 8-2 by Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals 13 months ago, Barcelona at least had five shots on target, with Messi managing two of those.

"In different moments, Lionel Messi would have helped in special things," said Bayern head coach Nagelsmann. "It's obvious a big player left the club, but still it's a very strong team.

"We played strong defence. We changed towards the second half as well and in the second half we were definitely a bit better in control and built better chances. We certainly had the space to get more chances."

Thomas Muller gave Bayern a half-time lead and Robert Lewandowski grabbed a double after the break to make it a cruise to victory for the German champions.

Nagelsmann arrived from Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig in the close season as successor to Hansi Flick and relished the moment of victory, which he planned to enjoy for the rest of the evening.

He described it as "a great start" and said Bayern would push to be "one of the top contenders" to be champions.

"I didn't ask in the hotel if they have proper glasses, but we're going to enjoy this win with a couple of drinks," he said.

"Winning the first game in the Champions League is always important, especially at a new club."

Asked about the evergreen prowess of veterans Muller and Lewandowski, Nagelsmann said: "I'm super happy to have these world stars on my team. It's great to work with them.

"Thomas is like a playing co-trainer who knows so much about football and tries to pass on those experiences to other players."

Lewandowski has scored in his last 18 appearances for Bayern, netting 29 goals in a run that stretches back to February in all competitions.

In the last three seasons since the start of the 2019-20 season, Lewandowski has scored 113 goals in 93 appearances for Bayern – 36 more than any other player in Europe's big five leagues in that time (Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo on 76 goals each).

He said that Lewandowski "just doesn't stop".

"And there's a definite reason why he scores so many goals," Nagelsmann said. "His whole life is directed to being a professional athlete and you can see that on the pitch."

Barcelona lost their opening Champions League match for the first time in 23 seasons as a Thomas Muller strike and Robert Lewandowski's brace earned Bayern Munich a 3-0 win on Tuesday.

The hosts were seeking revenge following their 8-2 loss against the same opponents in the 2019-20 quarter-finals, but Bayern proved far too strong once again in the Group E opener between the two heavyweights.

Muller opened the scoring in that humbling defeat for Barca 13 months ago and did likewise in the first half at Camp Nou before Lewandowski's simple finish gave Bayern breathing space early in the second period.

Lewandowski doubled his tally late on to seal a routine win that moves the German champions into top spot after the first round of fixtures, while Barca sit bottom after Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica played out a goalless draw.

Sergi Roberto was one of six players in Barca's line-up from the memorable previous clash between the sides and the wing-back blasted over a good chance in what was a bright start from the hosts.

Bayern soon started to get to grips with the game and would have been ahead if not for Marc-Andre ter Stegen's one-handed save to keep out a powerful Leroy Sane drive.

Barca relied on some last-ditch defending to keep them level, but Muller found a way through after 34 minutes with a shot from outside the box that took a heavy deflection off Eric Garcia and left Ter Stegen wrong-footed.

Ter Stegen was again required early in the second half to keep out a low Sane shot after the winger, who had set up Muller's goal, waltzed his way through as Bayern pushed for a second.

That duly arrived after 56 minutes when Jamal Musiala's shot cannoned back off the post and Lewandowski was in the perfect position to prod the rebound into an unguarded net using the bottom of his boot.

Bayern were eager to add a third and they did so five minutes from time through Lewandowski, the prolific striker converting another rebound after Serge Gnabry this time rattled the post.

Barcelona lost their opening Champions League match for the first time in 23 seasons as a Thomas Muller strike and Robert Lewandowski's brace earned Bayern Munich a 3-0 win on Tuesday.

The hosts were seeking revenge following their 8-2 loss against the same opponents in the 2019-20 quarter-finals, but Bayern proved far too strong once again in the Group E opener between the two heavyweights.

Muller opened the scoring in that humbling defeat for Barca 13 months ago and did likewise in the first half at Camp Nou before Lewandowski's simple finish gave Bayern breathing space early in the second period.

Lewandowski doubled his tally late on to seal a routine win that moves the German champions into top spot after the first round of fixtures, while Barca sit bottom after Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica played out a goalless draw.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann admits Tuesday's Champions League opponent Barcelona will miss Lionel Messi's "extravagance" but believes they are not much weaker without him.

Messi left Barcelona in the off-season to join Paris Saint-Germain after a glittering career at Camp Nou.

The Catalans have started life domestically without Messi with seven points from three games in LaLiga, while they will commence their Champions League campaign on Tuesday against Nagelsmann's Bayern in Barcelona.

"Barcelona definitely don't have the extravagance of a Messi any more. But they also have other players who can play a very important role if you take Frenkie de Jong and Pedri for example," Nagelsmann said at the pre-game news conference.

"We are ready for anything. I don't believe they are much weaker. The future will show if they are any better. But we definitely want to take three points."

Barcelona have a variety of selection issues with injuries to Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero, while Nagelsmann was coy on Serge Gnabry's availability.

Gnabry was substituted with a back problem in Saturday's 4-1 Bundesliga win over RB Leipzig, along with Robert Lewandowski for "precautionary" reasons with a groin complaint.

"We'll have to make a late decision on that one," Nagelsmann said about Gnabry.

"Gnabry will travel. [Corentin] Tolisso will not. [Kingsley] Coman is in the squad but not an option to start. It's looking good for Lewandowski again though."

Bayern thrashed Barcelona 8-2 in the 2020 Champions League quarter-final played as a one-off in Lisbon, adding further spice to their opening Group E fixture.

"Being the favourites or not the favourites is always more of a subject for the media," he said. "Two world-class clubs face each other."

Lionel Messi will be the highest-rated player on FIFA 22 after EA Sports revealed the upcoming game's top 22.

The latest edition of the long-running title will be released at the start of October and will see Messi representing a team other than Barcelona for the first time.

Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain in August and will give gamers the chance to line up with him, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe all in the same front three.

With a rating of 93, Messi will be the game's best player, excluding icons and special Ultimate Team cards.

 

The ratings of Neymar and Mbappe were also among those revealed on Monday, with the pair among five players on 91 – the other three are Cristiano Ronaldo, Jan Oblak and Kevin De Bruyne.

Of course, the game will give Manchester United fans the chance to include Ronaldo in their Red Devils side after he completed his return to the club following a 12-year absence.

Messi aside, the only other player to be rated higher than Ronaldo is Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

He broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 Bundesliga goals in a single season in 2020-21 as he netted 41 times en route to the title.

 

But it was not enough to topple Messi.

Even in a season that was largely underwhelming for Barcelona, Messi still managed to score 30 LaLiga goals and he set up another nine – only four players had more assists.

This perhaps goes some way to explaining why the six-time Ballon d'Or winner just pips Lewandowski to top-billing despite the latter's historic campaign.

FIFA 22's top 22 players:

Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain – 93

Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich – 92

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United – 91

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City – 91

Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain – 91

Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain – 91

Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid – 91

Harry Kane, Tottenham – 90

N'Golo Kante, Chelsea – 90

Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich – 90

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona – 90

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – 89

Gianluigi Donnarumma, Paris Saint-Germain – 89

Karim Benzema, Real Madrid – 89

Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool – 89

Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich – 89

Son Heung-min, Tottenham – 89

Alisson, Liverpool – 89

Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid – 89

Casemiro, Real Madrid – 89

Ederson, Manchester City – 89

Sadio Mane, Liverpool – 89

Barcelona and Bayern Munich will lock horns on Tuesday in a tantalising Champions League group game at Camp Nou.

It will be the first meeting between these sides since last August in Lisbon, when they served up a 10-goal contest that will live long in the memory – although that's something Barca fans must wish were not so. 

Bayern were 8-2 winners in that quarter-final, utterly dismantling a Barca side who looked increasingly lost at sea with every goal that went in. It was a match with seismic repercussions, too: while the Bundesliga giants went on to win the treble, Barca sacked head coach Quique Setien, Lionel Messi asked to leave and the end of Josep Maria Bartomeu's presidency was hurried along.

It was also a statistical outlier in terms of more than a mere (massively) one-sided scoreline...

31 minutes of infamy

It was 1-1 after just seven minutes, a David Alaba own goal cancelling out Thomas Muller's opener, but that was about as close as the contest ever got.

Ivan Perisic, Serge Gnabry and Muller again scored before the break. It was the first time a team had conceded four goals in the first half of a Champions League knockout match for five years, and the fact all four of Bayern's first goals came inside 31 minutes was a record in the competition.

Luis Suarez got a goal back, but the game quickly descended into farce for Barca, with Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski and Philippe Coutinho – on loan from the Catalans – adding to the scoresheet. It meant Bayern became the first team to score eight times in a knockout game in the modern competition, as Barca conceded eight goals for the first time since an 8-0 Copa del Rey loss to Sevilla in 1946.

Expect the unexpected

Barca faced 26 shots in total, the most they have ever faced in a Champions League match along with a game against Bayer Leverkusen in December 2015, when they had already won their group. Their expected goals against figure of 5.72 was by far the highest they have posted in a game in this competition, the nearest being 3.44 against Borussia Dortmund in the group stages. Perhaps that was a warning...

It was certainly a game to forget for Marc-Andre ter Stegen in Barca's goal. He had never before conceded more than four in a Champions League match for the Catalans, saving just 38 per cent of Bayern's attempts. By contrast, he saved all but one of the 26 shots Leverkusen had in that game six years ago.

Big hero six

Of course, it was an occasion to savour for Bayern and their forwards. Muller's double took him to six goals in five games against Barca, more than any other player has managed in the Champions League (Andriy Shevchenko scored five against them). It also took the Germany international to 23 career goals in the knockout phase, a tally at the time bettered only by Messi (47) and Cristiano Ronaldo (67).

Lewandowski's goal took him to 50 in the competition for Bayern in just 60 matches. Ronaldo is the only player to have achieved the milestone in fewer games for a single side, having done so in 50 appearances for Madrid. Lewandowski also became the first Bayern player to score in eight consecutive games in the tournament, and the fifth overall.

Nelson's solemn

Even Coutinho enjoyed himself against the club where he has barely made an impact since his mega-money move from Liverpool. He has only ever scored more in a single Champions League game once – a hat-trick for Liverpool against Spartak Moscow in 2017 – and he had only managed four goals in his previous 20 appearances in the competition.

For Barca, the game descended into disjointed chaos after that end-to-end opening. Suarez ended up touching the ball in his own box as often as he did in Bayern's (three times), while Nelson Semedo endured a torrid outing a right-back, giving up possession 10 times and being dribbled past on three occasions. On average, he completed fewer than three passes for every one instance he lost the ball.

As for Messi, who probably thought this would be his last Champions League game for his boyhood club, he managed just 59 touches of the ball, his lowest figure in a game he started since the 4-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in February 2017. In the end, Bayern scored more goals than Barca managed shots (seven) in the contest.

Robert Lewandowski was withdrawn during Bayern Munich's 4-1 win at RB Leipzig as a "precaution", though Serge Gnabry does appear to be a doubt to face Barcelona on Tuesday.

Julian Nagelsmann enjoyed a personally satisfying return to former club Leipzig on Saturday, as Bayern ran out comprehensive winners at the Red Bull Arena.

The coach was given a frosty reception at the start, with fans annoyed that he took several members of the coaching staff and Marcel Sabitzer to Bayern despite promising not to raid his former club.

Leipzig's social media team stoked the tension by poking fun at Nagelsmann and the situation before the game, posting a mocked-up image of Nagelsmann driving a car with his coaching staff, Sabitzer and Dayot Upamecano – who agreed a deal with Bayern before his boss arrived – present as passengers. "Remember, it's the away dressing room for you this time, guys," read the caption.

Nagelsmann had the last laugh as Bayern comprehensively left with all three points – Lewandowski's early penalty was added to by a Jamal Musiala volley, Leroy Sane's tap-in and a late Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting strike.

Musiala was ultimately the key man with a goal and an assist, but he was only on the pitch due to an injury suffered by Gnabry late in the first half, and Nagelsmann could not be sure he will be fit to face Barcelona in Tuesday's Champions League opener.

"With Serge there is something in his back, maybe lumbago [lower-back pain]," he told Sky. "I can’t make a prognosis for Tuesday just yet.

"He's already being treated by the medical staff and we'll have to see how he's doing tomorrow and what extent things are to know if he'll be back to work by Tuesday."

Lewandowski was also withdrawn later in the game once Nagelsmann was confident the contest was over.

It seems he too was struggling with an injury, though Nagelsmann was less concerned about the prolific striker's condition, adamant they planned to give him a bit of a rest towards the end anyway.

"It's like that with Lewy, he's had a few problems in the adductor area," Nagelsmann added.

"I don't think that's anything structural, at least the doctor told me that. It was just a precautionary measure.

"When it was quickly 3-0, we decided to switch him earlier so that he would just stay fit and healthy."

Kylian Mbappe remained at Paris Saint-Germain beyond the end of the transfer window, but his long-term future may not lie in the French capital.

The World Cup winner is a free agent at the end of the season and is reportedly ready to move.

Real Madrid, who bid for Mbappe at the start of this campaign, appear his most likely destination, but far less predictable is his potential replacement at PSG.

The Ligue 1 giants have months to plan their next move, so Stats Perform breaks down the possible options to fill Mbappe's big boots.

 

ERLING HAALAND

Borussia Dortmund remained firm in their stance of keeping hold of Haaland in the most recent transfer window, despite some heavyweight clubs reportedly showing an interest as deadline day approached. That interest will only increase in 2022 as the Norwegian has a widely reported €75million release clause that comes into effect at the end of the season. 

Landing Haaland would mean PSG replacing one of the world's best young goal-getters with another player of equivalent standing, the 21-year-old having scored 63 goals in 64 games since his Dortmund debut in January 2020, compared to 54 in 66 matches for Mbappe in all competitions.

HARRY KANE

Following Manchester City's failed pursuit of his signature, Kane announced towards the end of the transfer window he was staying put at Tottenham. City's loss – assuming they are not prepared to go back in for the England captain, as Pep Guardiola recently hinted at – could be PSG's gain.

A reunion with his former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino in Paris would appear to make a lot of sense, if PSG could stump up the huge fee that Tottenham would still insist upon next year. Having finished as Premier League top scorer in three separate campaigns – one of only three players to do so along with Thierry Henry (four times) and Alan Shearer – he will feel he deserves his move to an elite club that can challenge for major honours.

 

LAUTARO MARTINEZ

Lionel Messi and Pochettino will know all about the qualities of their fellow Argentinian, who has shone brighter by the season for Inter over the past three years. At the age of 24 and having been linked with the likes of Barcelona, Tottenham and Man City, Martinez is reportedly on the brink of signing a new deal with the reigning Serie A champions, which could make PSG's life a lot more difficult when it comes to any negotiations.

Whether he is quite of the level to take the place of Mbappe is debatable, and this year should prove telling, with Martinez facing a greater onus to score heavily after Romelu Lukaku's departure from Inter. He has one goal in one appearance this term, a goal-per-game return he will be looking to maintain over the course of 2021-22.

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

While the likes of Messi, Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann all changed clubs during the transfer window, Lewandowski stayed put at Bayern Munich despite suggestions he was seeking a new challenge elsewhere. With Bayern under no pressure to sell, and the prolific striker having two seasons to run on his contract, a move away this year never seemed a realistic prospect.

But it will be a different matter in nine months' time and PSG could do a lot worse than go all out for the Poland international, even if he is now 33 years of age. Having last term scored 41 times in the Bundesliga – breaking Gerd Muller's single-season record – Lewandowski has maintained his lofty standards in the opening weeks of the new campaign with 10 goals in his first six matches for club and country, going a long way to strengthening his argument of being the best out-and-out striker around.

MOHAMED SALAH

Salah is in an identical position to Lewandowski insofar as the Egypt forward will be about to enter the final 12 months of his contract come the end of the campaign. After previously flirting with LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, PSG have their work cut out persuading Salah to make the move to Ligue 1 instead.

Should they manage that, though, they will have one of Europe's top attacking talents from the past four years. Indeed, since joining Liverpool from Roma ahead of the 2017-18 season, the 29-year-old's tally of 97 goals has been bettered by only four players in Europe's top five leagues: Ciro Immobile (104), Ronaldo (107), Messi (125) and Lewandowski (131).

 

DUSAN VLAHOVIC

The 21-year-old Serbian came of age in Serie A in the 2020-21 campaign, scoring 21 of Fiorentina's 47 goals to finish fourth in the league's scoring charts and earn the division's Under-23 MVP award.

While not quite in the same category as some of the others on this list, Vlahovic may well be the hottest property around come next June as he already has three goals in three appearances for his club in all competitions this term. 

RICHARLISON

Neymar's Brazil strike partner is another who has been touted for a move to Paris since Madrid launched their Mbappe offensive last month. Everton made clear that they were not interested in selling Richarlison in August, but that may change should PSG be prepared to spend big once again.

Now into his fourth season at Goodison Park, Richarlison has yet to score more than 15 Premier League goals in a campaign for the Toffees, but at the age of 24, he has gained huge experience and was a key member of Brazil's recent Olympic gold medal-winning squad in Tokyo. 

Real Madrid are desperate to bolster their attack.

Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland are both on the list.

But, if their efforts to sign Haaland are unsuccessful, Robert Lewandowski could reportedly be targeted.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI TO MADRID?

Real Madrid will turn to Bayern Munich talisman Robert Lewandowski if they are unable to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, according to Diario AS.

Madrid are reportedly determined to sign in-demand star Haaland, who has also been linked with Manchester City, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Liverpool, Barcelona and Bayern.

But Lewandowski has emerged as an alternative for Madrid should they miss out on Haaland.

Madrid are also eyeing PSG star Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Juventus are considering a move for Barca forward Ousmane Dembele. The France international has been linked with United and Liverpool, while he is yet to agree terms over a new deal at Camp Nou.

City are interested in Milan full-back Theo Hernandez, claims the Manchester Evening News. The Frenchman has flourished at San Siro, also attracting the attention of PSG.

- The Manchester Evening News says United have earmarked West Ham star Declan Rice as their principal midfield target at the end of the season.

England cannot just focus on Robert Lewandowski in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier with Poland, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has warned his players.

Lewandowski scored three times across Poland's victories over Albania and San Marino last week to make it 72 goals for his country in 124 caps.

Picking up from where he left off in 2020-21, when setting a new record for the most goals ever scored in a single Bundesliga campaign (41), the prolific striker has been in fine form this term.

He has scored in all six matches he has played for club and country, and netted 10 times in total to strengthen his status as arguably the finest striker on the planet.

The Bayern Munich man was injured when Poland lost 2-1 at Wembley in March but is fit and firing for this latest encounter between Group I's top two teams.

But while acknowledging Lewandowski's quality in front of goal, Southgate insists there is more to Poland than just one player, as Paulo Sousa's men showed in the reverse fixture six months ago.

"They played at Wembley without him and they gave a very good account of themselves," he said.

"We only scored really late on in the game to win it, so of course it's no different if we didn't have Harry Kane or Raheem [Sterling], then they would be a big loss to us.

"The very top players for any team in the world are a loss if you don’t have them and every coach will feel the same way.

"But when we're preparing the team to play against Poland, we're not just looking at Lewandowski.

"We absolutely respect what he brings and we know what a threat he is, but they've got some other very dangerous players as well."

 

Lewandowski's run of goals includes scoring in 13 successive Bundesliga matches stretching back into last season – only the late Gerd Muller (16 in 1969-70) found the net in more consecutive league games.

The 33-year-old surpassed 300 goals for Bayern with his recent hat-trick against Hertha Berlin, reaching 301 in just his 333rd appearance for the German giants. 

Again, that is a haul only bettered by Muller (566 goals in 607 matches) in Die Roten's history.

Lewandowski's goals in September's qualifiers have helped Poland to two wins from as many games, but they remain five points adrift of group leaders England at the midway point.

England have yet to drop any points and will be as good as assured of a place at Qatar 2022 should they extend that winning run in Warsaw this week.

"Clearly with Hungary's last result [losing 1-0 to Albania], Poland look like being the nearest challengers, which we probably thought when this group was drawn," Southgate said.

"It's a great incentive for us now. If we can go to Warsaw and win then we really are in control of the group."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann lauded Robert Lewandowski, labelling him a Bundesliga great following his hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Hertha Berlin.

Lewandowski was in ruthless form on Saturday, scoring three goals to lead Bayern to a crushing win at home to Hertha.

The Poland international, who has been linked with a move away, netted in his 13th successive Bundesliga match – only the late Gerd Muller (16, 1969-70) found the net in more consecutive league games than Lewandowski.

Lewandowski surpassed 300 goals for Bayern, reaching 301 in just his 333rd appearance for the German giants. It is a mark only surpassed by Muller (566 goals in 607 matches) in the club's history.

The 33-year-old forward (15) is second in the list of hat-trick scorers, behind only Muller (32).

"He is definitely one of the best in Bundesliga history," Nagelsmann told reporters post-match.

"You would have to go through many of them, the league has been around for quite a while. But he is very consistent, has a great ability to get himself between the lines in possession. That's what makes him hard to catch.

"He's not just someone who waits for the balls up front, he participates in the game and creates a numerical advantage in the box. He is really dangerous because he can finish with all body parts really well."

"He does that with quality and has a great character. If you win so much like he did in the last two years and are still as hungry from the first game, if you have these transfer rumours revolving around you, which is normal for him, and then still perform as hungry as he does, this is extraordinary.

"No question. He's probably top of the top."

Teenage sensation and Germany international Jamal Musiala was also on target for Bayern after Thomas Muller opened the scoring inside six minutes against Hertha.

On the 18-year-old Musiala, Nagelsmann added: "The best thing is his modesty and humility. He's not one to over-celebrate his performances but wants to keep going. I think this is a prerequisite for a great career if he keeps that modesty.

"He has incredible qualities in one-on-one situations and a good finish. This is hard to find in today's youth teams: players with a certain football ground mentality. He has that and I don't want him to lose it but my biggest task will be making him keep it."

Bayern are unbeaten in 29 Bundesliga home games (W24, D5) – since moving to the Allianz Arena in 2005, the club have only had a longer streak without defeat in top-flight home games from March 2016 to April 2018 (38 fixtures).

Edouard Mendy, Ruben Dias, N'Golo Kante and Erling Haaland won the positional awards for the 2020-21 Champions League.

Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy kept nine clean sheets in last season's competition as the Blues won the trophy for the second time, beating Manchester City 1-0 in the final.

City defender Dias was named the best defender, while Chelsea's Kante – UEFA's man of the match in each leg of the semi-final and the final – won the prize for midfielders.

Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland was chosen as the best forward in 2020-21.

The players were chosen from a shortlist of 12, who had each received the most points in each positional category following a jury vote. The jury comprised coaches from the 32 clubs that entered into the group stage last season, as well as 55 journalists representing UEFA's 55 member associations. Coaches could not vote for players from their own teams.

Five of the 12 nominees were from Chelsea: Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Kante and Jorginho.

City had three representatives – Ederson, Dias and Kevin De Bruyne – while beaten semi-finalists Real Madrid and PSG provided one each: Thibaut Courtois, and Kylian Mbappe.

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Haaland, who finished as top scorer last season with 10, were the other nominees.

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