After Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski joined FC Bayern München's lengthy injury list, UEFA.com's Philip Röber considers how they might cope against FC Barcelona.
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FC Bayern München will be without Arjen Robben for the rest of their UEFA Champions League campaign because of a calf injury, with Robert Lewandowski also facing a spell on the sidelines due to a jaw problem.
Robben, who had been out since 22 March with an abdominal complaint, limped out of Tuesday's German Cup semi-final defeat by Borussia Dortmund just 16 minutes after coming on as a substitute. The Netherlands forward has struck 17 Bundesliga goals this term, as well as two in the UEFA Champions League, but will not play again until next season.
Lewandowski, who has featured in all ten of Bayern's 2014/15 European fixtures, scoring five times in the process, fractured his upper jaw and nasal bone during the game against Dortmund, which Bayern lost on penalties in Munich. It is not yet known how long he will be laid off.
Bayern, who take on coach Josep Guardiola's former side FC Barcelona on 6 and 12 May, are already missing third-choice goalkeeper Tom Starke (ankle), Holger Badstuber (thigh), David Alaba (knee), Franck Ribéry (ankle) and Javi Martínez (lack of fitness). There was better news for Thiago Alcántara, however, who suffered a blow to his foot on Tuesday but seems to have sustained only light bruising.
How will Bayern cope without Robben? UEFA.com's Philip Röber, who has been reporting on Bayern for the last six years, ponders Guardiola's options ...
Predicted lineup: Neuer; Rafinha, Boateng, Benatia, Bernat; Lahm, Alonso, Schweinsteiger; Müller, Thiago; Götze.
The timing of these latest developments could hardly be worse – Robben and Lewandowski have contributed 42 goals in all competitions between them this season.
Let's wind back the clock to 22 April, the morning after Bayern's 6-1 defeat of FC Porto. Fans, players and staff alike were in high spirits; Javi Martínez had just joined full training for the first time since last summer and Robben's comeback after a month out was also imminent. A week later, and the mood has taken a turn for the worse.
Still reeling from defeat by Dortmund in the cup, Guardiola received news of yet more injuries. There are just seven days to go until Bayern go to Camp Nou and Bayern's worst fears have been realised: player of the season Robben and in-form striker Lewandowski are hard to replace, even for a club with resources as rich as Bayern's. Ribéry has also been out since mid-March and, even if he should return in time, he is not as reliable as either.
All this means it will be difficult for Guardiola to keep Luis Enrique guessing. Mario Götze and Thomas Müller are most likely to fill the void left by Lewandowski, but neither possesses the physical strength to take on Barça's central defence as a lone striker. They will also pose far less of an aerial threat, meaning they will need to outfox the Blaugrana on the ground.
Bastian Schweinsteiger's return could allow Thiago Alcántara a more advanced role in support of Götze and/or Müller. Thiago has been Bayern's biggest source of inspiration since he made his own comeback earlier this month and now faces his old employers with much of Bayern's hopes resting on his shoulders.
If there is a silver lining in all this, it comes in the form of Mitchell Weiser. The 21-year-old, who impressed with a fine solo run and assist in the 1-0 victory against Hertha BSC Berlin last weekend, has fully justified his coach's faith. He is brash, hard-running and direct and, though he lacks Robben's pedigree, could be the man to provide drive on the right without neglecting defensive duties.