Bayern Munich are back in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday, taking on Lazio at Stadio Olimpico in Rome in the first leg of their round of 16 tie on CBS All Access. The match brings two prolific strikers together on the continental stage. The current titleholders boast Robert Lewandowski and his 29 goals and six assists across the Bundesliga and Champions League while the Italian hosts have the talismanic Ciro Immobile who is on 19 Serie A and Champions League goals combined. Lewandowski sat down exclusively with CBS to talk about preparing for Lazio and Immobile and chasing back-to-back Champions League titles.
The Poland international, 32, has scored 10 more times than his Italian counterpart but that is to be expected when playing for the current German, European and now FIFA Club World Cup champions after their recent victory over Tigres UANL. Immobile, 31, has helped the Biancocelesti up to sixth position in Serie A to put the top four with UCL qualification within reach for Simone Inzaghi's men after a slow start to the season which finally picked up at the start of 2021.
Both players share a Borussia Dortmund link in their past and Lewandowski told CBS Sports exclusively that he rates the Azzurri hitman as one of the best players in the Italian top-flight as the two prepare to do battle in Rome.
"For sure, he is one of the best players in Serie A now," he said. "He can and does score a lot of goals for Lazio. He is perhaps their most important player and not only for his goals, but also his quality and skill. We know that for us, as Bayern, we have to show our best. If we focus on ourselves, we will be ready to beat Lazio."
Immobile and Lazio are not Lewandowski and Bayern's only threat, though, as Hansi Flick's men have gone through a bumpy patch of late that has seen them draw 3-3 at home with Arminia Bielefeld and lose 2-1 away at Eintracht Frankfurt since their return from CWC duty in Qatar. The Pole admitted self-focus is as important as knowing your opponent thoroughly now every possible trophy is in hand and believes that placing greater emphasis on their own performances rather than those of others will return the team to their formidable best -- starting with Lazio.
"In the Champions League, it does not matter who you are playing against," Lewandowski said exclusively to CBS. "The most important thing is how you are playing. We know that we have good enough players and staff -- we are good enough as a team. If we show our normal level of performance and ability, we can win this game.
"However, we have huge respect for Lazio because of what they did last season and what they are doing this time around. They have had a few issues this time around, but they are still dangerous. That is why we must be ready from the first minute of leg one."
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Lewandowski also praised Flick's meticulous approach to matches and the balance of talented young players and experienced figures still in their prime, pointing to the two factors as being key to Bayern's insatiable appetite for success.
"During games, our minds are open," CBS heard. "If we see that there are some weaknesses, we have to make changes to be better and that can be playing easier to have more opportunities and to create a new situation. It is in our mentality to always want more and more and more. It does not matter who we are playing against, how long we have been playing or at what part of the match, we are always forward-thinking and trying to score again.
"We have very young players, but also a few with experience -- a bit older, but not too old. I think this is the perfect mix because our mentality is always positive, thinking of more to do and how to shoot more often. With Hansi's training session, we go through everything in our games -- good or bad. We can change and try to do things better in the next games.
"To us, it does not matter what we already won. Sure, we are happy about it, but those of us playing for a while know that you cannot dwell on what you have done -- it is about what you have to do now. That is the difference with our mentality."
Lewandowski and his Bayern teammates will be hoping that this same mentality comes to the fore at Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday and enables them to take a strong early lead in one of this edition's most mouthwatering Champions League round of 16 ties. The shootout between two of the continent's most feared goal machines promises to not disappoint.