Bayern start life without Lewandowski in German Super Cup ▷ SportsBrief.com
Bayern Munich face RB Leizpig in the German Super Cup on Saturday for their first competitive game since the departure of Robert Lewandowski and with Sadio Mane in their ranks.
Julian Nagelsmann’s men, who won a 10th successive Bundesliga title last season thanks to Lewandowski’s 35 league goals, have been busy in the transfer market.
African player of the year Mane arrived from Liverpool after six trophy-laden years with the Reds, while Dutch centre-back Matthijs de Ligt joined Juventus for 67 million euros ($68.2 million).
Ajax pair Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch have also signed for Bayern, while teenager Mathys Tel has swapped Rennes for Allianz Arena as a possible long-term replacement for Lewandowski.
The Pole left for Barcelona after scoring 344 goals for the Bavarians, second on their all-time list behind Gerd Mueller.
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But Nagelsmann believes the deal, worth €45million, was good for his club.
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“It was a good deal for Bayern,” Nagelsmann admitted earlier this month. “It’s difficult. He scored a lot of goals and was one of Bayern’s big stars.
“But he would have left anyway, if it wasn’t for this season it would have been the next one, so we would have had this challenge a year later and that’s why the deal isn’t so bad for the Bayern.”
The German champions will have to adjust to life without a natural focal point up front.
Mane could play in the middle in a more fluid front three alongside Serge Gnabry and Thomas Mueller.
The match at the Red Bull Arena will be an opportunity for both sides to set a milestone for the new season, with Nagelsmann’s former club Leipzig hoping to kick things off after lifting their first major European Cup trophy. Germany last season.
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“It’s an important game because it’s a title, but also to make a statement,” Nagelsmann said.
“Leipzig are a young, hungry club who always want to challenge Bayern’s status. It’s important to make a small statement and show your strength.”
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Mane, who has scored 120 times for Liverpool, scored in his two pre-season appearances for Bayern.
“You can see he knows he’s needed when it comes down to it,” added Nagelsmann. “I’m sure he will play a very good game.”
The match will be played as Bayern look to make a breakthrough in their bid to sign Austrian midfielder Konrad Laimer from Leipzig.
Their transfer strategy this year has shown a marked departure from their usual tactic of plundering the talent pool of other Bundesliga clubs.
Bayern have recently been criticized by Leipzig general manager Oliver Mintzlaff, whose side lost Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer to their Bundesliga rivals last season.
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“I have a very good relationship with Olli,” insisted Nagelsmann. “We talk very often on the phone. Everything is fine.”
Bayern may be entering a new era, but regardless of Saturday’s result, they will be favorites to claim an 11th straight Bundesliga crown this season.
In their run of 10 successive titles, Bayern have finished at least 10 points clear of the second-placed team on eight occasions.
After flexing their muscles in the transfer market, contenders like Leipzig have a lot of work to do to mount a serious challenge.