Berlin: If proof was needed, Bayern Munich's 3-0 Champions League win against Barcelona delivered the answer: The 2020 treble winners have ended their efforts to survive without a main striker.
Not only did Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting score his fourth goal in five games as the successor of the departed Robert Lewandowski, but Julian Nagelsmann's team is getting along more smoothly with a spearhead.
Choupo-Moting's tasks in that case go beyond pure scoring. The 33-year-old is acting as a perfect link in the box, covering issues such as keeping the opponents' central defenders busy and securing the ball until teammates catch up.
The Hamburg-born striker opened spaces for Sadio Mane, Jamal Musiala, and Serge Gnabry by attracting the attention of Barcelona's defenders when moving toward the wings on both sides.
'We currently do better when playing with a box-striker as he helps to secure balls up front,' Bayern Munich's coach Julian Nagelsmann stated, following goals from Choupo-Moting, Mane and Benjamin Pavard.
Against struggling Barca, Bayern's new number nine successfully slipped into the role of an overwhelmingly valuable point of orientation.
Media reports speak not only of the surprisingly successful stop-gap soon being rewarded with a contract extension but also of Bayern shelving plans to sign a new striker to make up for the loss of Lewandowski.
The Bavarians secured their fifth win in five 2022/23 Champions League games and promised their fans they would soon recapture the top spot in the Bundesliga.
'In games like the one today, in important international duels it's our obligation to set a sign and leave a mark,' Nagelsmann said. 'This game not only was about the group win for us,' the Bayern coach added.
Despite having had to replace injured goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, the Bavarians dominated the 90 minutes and gave evidence that they are on a different plane to the Spanish side.
In the course of its options, Barcelona delivered reasons for optimism regarding the future. Xavi Hernandez's team had to deal with the bad news of an early group exit in the Champions League in advance of the duel against Bayern.
Despite one group match remaining, Barcelona are already condemned to the Europa League.