By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- While fans are celebrating Robert Lewandowski and Coutinho as Bayern Munich's new dream team, one decisive question is keeping the Bavarians minds busy: Is the ruling German champion strong enough to win the 2019/20 Champions League?
Despite a 4-0 victory over Bundesliga newcomer Cologne, it seems apparent the 2013 treble winner needs to improve and implement significant changes.
Currently counting on Lewandowski at its best and the genius Brazilian midfield star, coach Niko Kovac is trying to find new options after Bayern for over a decade depended on its strong wingers such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.
While Ribery joined Florence and Robben retiring, Bayern's power source is shifting to the center with Coutinho as their inspiring force.
Things might work well at present as Kovac managed to create a feel-good atmosphere for most of his stars, but not only team captain Manuel Neuer is concerned about his colours progress on the international stage. "The question is: Against which of the big teams it won't be enough what we deliver right now?" the German international asked.
First signs of a new era might emerge as the club's Polish spearhead has scored nine league goals in five games and the on-loan Brazilian integration seems near perfection in an early stage.
The 59th minute is seen as the final proof of Lewandowski having altered into a real team-player. Times seem over when he was named the team's most selfish performer, mostly considering his personal interests. For the past years, the forward has been in charge of penalties. Despite the opportunity to set a new record mark with 10 goals after the fifth round of matches, the forward passed on the ball to Coutinho to "make him feel happy."
The entire club seemed overwhelmed by Lewandowski's altruistic deed as it was his benefitting team-mate. The Brazilian praised him as an "outstanding performer and great character."
While Bayern still has to find a well-balanced strategy using all his options, including a strong game over the wings, a rather sloppy working attitude enabled an underdog side like Cologne to carry out dangerous counter-attacks.
His side is allowing too much space, Neuer commented and demanded to talk about the deficits. Coach Kovac complained about the lack of speed and the spaces open. Needless to say, he was talking about top international opponents recklessly taking advantage of his team's failures.
To complete the initiated changes, Kovac might have to shift Joshua Kimmich back to the right-back spot to enforce the game over the wings. While Lucas Hernandez is far from an ideal left-back, the Bayern manager depends on the return of David Alaba.
To be able to count on a wider tactical variety seems a must as not only Kimmich is concerned, "we, to a great extent, depend on the shape of Robert Lewandowski." Bayer's options to replace their attacker in case of an injury seem worryingly limited.
To win the Champions League or at least reach the semi-final remains the club's main target for this season. "Our squad is strong enough to win the Champions League, but we need to do better to be a challenging competitor when crunch time is approaching," Kimmich emphasized.
Thomas Mueller demanded the entire team to increase its pressing efforts as too big spaces might turn in a deadly trap when facing this season's favorites in the Champions League.