Robert Lewandowki's on fire, but Bayern Munich have what it takes to tame their former charge and sink Barcelona in UEFA Champions League Group C. bundesliga.com outlines five reasons why Sadio Mane and Co. will do just that...
1) Eight years of Lewandowski, oodles of inside knowledge
Lewandowski scored 344 goals in 375 appearances for Bayern between 2014 and 2022. The Poland striker broke all manner of individual, club and Bundesliga records, whilst contributing to some of the record champions' greatest triumphs. Although he's picked up where he left off since moving to Barca in the summer, it's more likely to be a case of Bayern haunting their former employer rather than the other way round.
Watch: All 312 of Robert Lewandowski's Bundesliga goals
No team knows Lewandowski better than Bayern. The Bavarians helped shape him into the world's best No.9, paying particular attention to his strengths and weaknesses. For every instance that he schooled a teammate on the training pitch, there will have been an occassion where the Dayot Upamecanos of this world had him under lock and key.
Bayern would not be the first team to shackle Lewandowski, either. The likes of Union Berlin, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen prevented the reigning two-time FIFA Best Player from scoring last season, restricting the supply line and forcing him away from the 18-yard area, whilst picking up positive results. He's also endured some decidedly subdued nights at the office in previous Champions League campaigns.
What is a thankless task for many is far from mission impossible, especially for Bayern.
2) Müller, DO DO DO DO DO DO, Mane, Sane...
At least three reasons for the price of one that outweigh the Lewandowski factor, Bayern's new-look forward line is as fearsome as they come.
Julian Nagelsmann's side have scored 31 times in their first nine competitive matches post-Lewandowski, with Mane hitting five and having as many chalked off. Leroy Sane, who orchestrated the 2-0 win over Inter Milan on Champions League Matchday 1, has four goals and three assists; Jamal Musiala has scored six and set up another; Serge Gnabry's had a direct hand in seven; and Thomas Müller's contributed four. The closest fit to a Lewandowski-style No.9, 17-year-old Mathys Tel has already made history as Bayern's youngest scorer with his goals in the DFB Cup and Bundesliga.
Viktoria Plzen got on the scoresheet in Barcelona - imagine the damage that Bayern will inflict at the Allianz Arena...
Watch: Bayern's Fab Four
3) Rock-solid foundation
If Bayern's brilliantly pliable and variable attack floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, their defence - taking further inspiraton from Muhammed Ali - has the collective strength to handcuff Barca's lightning.
Bayern have conceded just five times in six Bundesliga matches so far this season, whilst keeping four clean sheets in all competitions. No Bundesliga team has won more challenges (653) than Bayern, which goes some way to explaining why Manuel Neuer has only had to face 16 shots on his goal, repelling 81 percent of them.
Matthijs de Ligt's arrival alongside Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez begs the question: do Bayern have the best stable of centre-backs in the world? Full-backs Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies have the balance between defence and attack down to a T.
The heartbeat of the Bayern collective, midfielder Joshua Kimmich hasn't missed a game in 2022/23, and it was his laser-guided pass that unlocked the Inter defence at the San Siro. A rejuvenated Marcel Sabitzer has played the role of Kimmich's right-hand man of late, but Germany's Leon Goretzka is available again after injury.
4) We 8-2 do this to you, Barca fans...
Bayern's overall record against Barca also sits in the German team's favour, with the Munich outfit leading the head-to-head with nine wins to the Catalans' two, as well as two draws.
What's more, the six-time Champions League winners have won six of their last seven against Barcelona, while Barca have come out on top in just two of their last eight fixtures with Bundesliga opposition on German soil (D4, L2) - and never in Munich (D1, L3).
Bayern beat Barcelona 3-0 home and away in last season's groups, but their dominance in the fixture has never been more evident than in their one-legged 2019/20 quarter-final tie. Hansi Flick's sextuple winners romped to an 8-2 win, becoming the first team ever to score eight goals in a single European knockout stage fixture.
Davies providing the enduring image of the contest with an audacious run and assist that broke the internet. The Canadian humilated Lionel Messi and Nelson Semedo on his way to teeing up Kimmich for Bayern's fourth goal.
Makeshift Barca right-back Jules Kounde should be very afraid.
5) Fortress Allianz Arena meets European pedigree
Barcelona are not alone in falling short on Munich soil. Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Tottenham are among the teams to have tasted defeat at the Allianz Arena, where Bayern have lost just once since the 2018/19 round of 16 and only twice in the last four years.
Bayern have won 12 of 14 of home fixtures in that time, and are unbeaten in their previous five. They also hold the record for the most consecutive home wins in the Champions League (16: 17 September 2014 – 15 February 2017), and are the only team to claim any UEFA club competition trophy with a 100 percent winning record (2019/20 Champions League).
Bayern vs. Leverkusen: Match Facts analysis
Friday night's meeting is a particularly curious one after both sides made stuttering starts to the season.
Matchday 8 probable teams
Will Sadio Mane get back among the goals as Bayern seek a return to winning ways against Leverkusen on Friday night?
Fantasy scout: tips and picks for Matchday 8
Not sure which players should be in your Fantasy team? bundesliga.com scouts out tips and picks ahead of the matchday...