Coach Flick leaves Lewandowski replacement open

By Nathalia Araujo and Christian Kunz, dpa

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick has left his options open when it comes to who will replace striker Robert Lewandowski on Saturday in the Bundesliga table-topper clash at RB Leipzig.

“Choupo[-Moting] has shown his qualities, he’s definitely an option. I’ll leave it open to me how we absorb that,” Flick told a news conference on Friday.

Lewandowski will miss the game at Leipzig after suffering a knee injury last Sunday when Poland beat Andorra 3-0 in the World Cup qualifying match.

The striker, who has scored 35 goals in the Bundesliga, will be sidelined for four weeks and will also miss both Champions League quarter-finals games against PSG.

“These are the kind of situations you have to deal with as a coach and I have sympathy for the player,” Flick said.

“Robert is an important player for us, no doubt. We need to see how we will deal with his absence. We have players who can fill in,” he added.

Bayern midfielder Thomas Mueller believes the team is ready for the game despite Lewandowski’s absence.

“It’s not easy when our best scorer and such a great personality is absent,” Mueller told the club website on Friday. “But that’s the challenge in professional business and nothing completely new.”

“We still have very good offensive options and different line-up variations,” he said, adding Bayern have “not just one player with top quality, but many.”

Flick also said defender Niklas Suele has recovered from a muscle strain and is ready to play on Saturday, while Alphonso Davies and Jerome Boateng are suspended.

“We’ve been easing Niklas Suele back into action. We’re very confident that he will be able to play,” the coach said.

Leipzig will miss injured defender Angelino, but will have centre-back Dayot Upamecano returning from injury.

“[Angelino] is not available, he hasn’t trained with the team yet. He might return against [Werder] Bremen,” coach Julian Nagelsmann told a news conference on Friday,

“[Upamecano] looks good, he trained all week, even very strongly in the past two days,” Nagelsmann said about the defender, who will move to Bayern in summer.

Marcel Halstenberg will also miss the game due as he is in quarantine relating to the coronavirus. The health department of the city of Leipzig said a shortening of the 14-day isolation period was not possible.

Bayern top the Bundesliga table with a four-point advantage over second-placed Leipzig.

“If we win, it will be a clear sign for us towards the title. It will be a hot dance,” Mueller said.

Nagelsmann recognized the importance of the game saying “if we don’t win or draw, the season is not over, but the title race is.”

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