Champions League: Robert Lewandowski's absence not a problem for Bayern Munich, says coach Niko Kovac

Munich: Bayern Munich, who face Liverpool away in a mouth-watering Champions League last-16 tie next month, insist it is not a problem having no direct back-up to their deadly centre-forward striker Robert Lewandowski.

Sandro Wagner was sold to Chinese Super League (CLS) side Tianjin Teda on Wednesday for a reported transfer fee of five million euros ($5.7m) leaving Lewandowski as Bayern's only out-and-out striker.

Champions League: Robert Lewandowskis absence not a problem for Bayern Munich, says coach Niko Kovac

File image of Robert Lewandowski. AFP

The rampaging Pole has twelve Bundesliga goals and eight in the Champions League so far this season.

Nevertheless, head coach Niko Kovac insists a lack of cover up front is no problem despite Bayern lagging six points behind in the Bundesliga table and facing a crunch European tie at Liverpool on 19 February.

Kovac said he gave absolutely no thought to raiding the transfer market before the window closed in Germany on Thursday.

"In Thomas Mueller and Serge Gnabry, we have two players who can cover that position or we wouldn't have let him (Wagner) go," said Bayern head coach Kovac, just before the transfer window shut.

"We already have a big enough squad.

"Serge can play there (striker) and a he did it a few times at (former club) Hoffenheim.

"Thomas is just as versatile – I can wake him in the middle of the night, tell him which position he should play, and he'd do it. I am not worried."

Despite Kovac's tongue-in-cheek quip, Bayern are in virtually the same position they found themselves before Wagner arrived in January 2018.

Bayern fans will feel the club is tempting fate, reminded of their Champion League quarter-final exit two years ago at the hands of Real Madrid when Lewandowski was suddenly ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Mueller deputised in a 2-1 first-leg defeat as Bayern threw away the lead after Arturo Vidal scored before Cristiano Ronaldo netted two second-half goals in Munich.

The Germans, then coached by Carlo Ancelotti, lost the second leg 4-2 in Madrid, even with Lewandowski back in the team.

Nevertheless, Kovac is throwing all his eggs in Lewandowski's basket and hopes the Poland star stays in peak form until the end of the season.

"It's hard to find a back-up," explained Kovac on Thursday.

"There are perhaps one or two players in the world who can replace him.

"I hope he keeps going like he has done: in top condition, wiry, an Adonis.

"And when he needs a break, I'll have no problem letting Thomas or Serge play."

Time will tell if Lewandowski's words – "it would certainly be an advantage to have an alternative on the bench at the decisive stage of the season" -- uttered a year ago before Wagner arrived, will return to haunt Bayern.

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Updated Date: Feb 01, 2019 09:19:48 IST

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