Soccer-Bayern must deliver despite Lewandowski absence-coach Flick

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Bundesliga - Bayern Munich v VfB Stuttgart - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - March 20, 2021 Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their fourth goal and completing his hat-trick Pool via REUTERS/Matthias Balk DFL regulations prohibit any use of photographs as image sequences and/or quasi-video./File Photo

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) -Striker Robert Lewandowski's injury is a big challenge for Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich ahead of Saturday's game at second-placed RB Leipzig, but the team has the quality to deliver, coach Hansi Flick said on Friday.

The Bundesliga's top scorer suffered a knee ligament injury while on international duty with Poland last week and is expected to be out for four weeks.

The Pole has scored 35 league goals and was on track to break the record 40-goal haul of Gerd Mueller from the 1971/72 campaign.

The Bavarians are on 61 points, four clear of Leipzig. VfL Wolfsburg, in third, are a further six points behind on 51.

"These are situations that coaches have to face," Flick told a virtual news conference. "We all know that Robert is an important player."

"Now we have to see how we will solve this. We have players who can play that position. It is a challenge for us all and we have to tackle it."

Flick said Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was the likely choice to front Bayern's attack on Saturday but there were other options as well.

Bayern will not only be without Lewandowski in the league, he is also expected to miss their Champions League quarter-final against Paris St Germain later this month.

"This is now the final sprint of the season. Every player knows that the weeks in April and May are decisive," Flick said. "It is a quality of our players to be there when it matters. We will build on that."

"What is key is to go into the game with the right attitude," said the coach who has led Bayern to six trophies in the past 10 months. "We have the players who in games such as this have often risen to the occasion."

For Leipzig, who have won seven of their last eight league games, the absence of Lewandowski changes nothing.

"Our match plan has not changed just because Lewandowski will be missing," Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said. "Obviously they'd be better with him."

"If we fail to win and only earn a draw then the title race is not over but it will be harder. Pressure is part of the business. If Bayern lose then it will become uncomfortable for them."

(Reporting by Karolos GrohmannEditing by Toby Davis)

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