- Vidal proving increasingly influential in recent weeks
- Lewandowski ended his personal goal-drought on Matchday 30
- Both players are hitting top form as Bayern chase the treble
A 3-0 home victory over FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 30 put FC Bayern München within touching distance of a record fourth straight Bundesliga title. With the DFB Cup and the UEFA Champions League also firmly in Bayern’s sights, Arturo Vidal and Robert Lewandowski look set to play a key role in the hunt for glory on three fronts.
When Bayern coach Pep Guardiola afforded Vidal a well-earned breather in the 78th minute against Schalke, the fans at the Allianz Arena rose to their feet to honour their 'King Arturo'. Pulling the strings tirelessly in Bayern's midfield engine room, the Chilean put in another match-winning performance. His goals in both matches against Benfica recently helped seal Bayern's passage into a fifth consecutive UEFA Champions League semi-final and his multi-faceted interpretation of the 'Aggressive Leader' role proved decisive in the Bundesliga too.
'His intensity makes him so important'
"Every time I step out onto the pitch, I feel the trust of my team-mates, my coach and the fans," said Vidal. "I work hard to improve every day and I hope people appreciate everything I invest out on the pitch." He was rewarded for his endeavour against Schalke with his first goal in 17 Bundesliga appearances. As Bayern’s season enters the decisive stage, Vidal has become central to Pep Guardiola's plans. "His intensity makes him a very important player for us," noted the Catalan.
Revered as "the warrior" in his home country, Vidal has developed into much more than just a midfield enforcer at Bayern. He also supplied the opening for Robert Lewandowski to finally break the deadlock against a resolute Schalke side just before the hour mark. It was the seventh time this season that the Polish striker had opened the scoring - a league high. Having failed to find the net in six previous games, Lewandowski also ended what could have been described a "goal-drought" by his high standards.
"I went through a phase after the international break when not everything came off," he said. "But it wasn’t a crisis. You can’t score in every game." Not that his coach expects him to either. Guardiola doesn’t define his striker’s performances merely on the amount he scores. "If a forward doesn’t end up scoring, then it doesn’t mean I’m unhappy with his performance," underlined the Bayern coach after the game.
Lewandowski doubled his and Bayern's tally a short while later to move him on to 27 goals for the season, just two shy of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s all-time record for a non-German in the Bundesliga. His goals will be crucial in the coming weeks as Bayern prepare to face SV Werder Bremen in the semi-final of the DFB Cup on Tuesday and Atletico Madrid in the same stage of the Champions League a week later.
That was as far as Bayern got in both competitions last season and they are determined to avoid a deja-vu experience. "We want to show that we want to get to the final," said Lewandowski. "We need to give everything we’ve got."
With Arturo Vidal driving the team on, that attitude seems guaranteed. A second treble in four seasons is "what we want," emphasised Vidal.