Robert Lewandowski talks over a contract extension at Bayern Munich are "95 per cent" done.

Poland striker Lewandowski played a starring role as Bayern rolled Schalke aside with minimal fuss in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-0 win.

There was further reason for fan celebrations after the match as Lewandowski – who is contracted until 2021 – confirmed he is close to securing a reported two-year extension.

When it was put to him the deal was 99 per cent concluded, Lewandowski told Sky: "Not yet, maybe 95 per cent."

Lewandowski hit 22 goals last term to finish as the Bundesliga's top scorer and he is confident he will have another stellar campaign in 2019-20.

"I can always play better and I have the potential improve each season," he added. "I can do something special on my own every season, but I try to help the team. No matter who I play against, I always try to score goals."

His coach Niko Kovac was similarly upbeat about Lewandowski, saluting the 31-year-old's impact on German football.

"[His performance was] sensationally good, that's what he's there for," the Croatian said. "That's what he can do.

"He has already proved in the last five, six, seven years – I don't know how long he has been in Germany – that he's the best striker in the Bundesliga.

"Not only in the last game, but also today. His efficiency and accuracy are unique. We are glad that we have him and I hope that he will continue like this in the next weeks and months."

Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick to take his goal tally to five in two games as he fired Bayern Munich to their first Bundesliga victory of the season in a 3-0 defeat of Schalke.

After finishing with his lowest goal return for four years in 2018-19, plundering 22 league goals, the Poland international has started the new campaign in electric form and Schalke failed to contain him.

Any hopes Schalke boss David Wagner had of taking points from his first home game in charge were cast into doubt when Lewandowski converted a first-half penalty.

The 31-year-old saved his best for the second half, when he curled a spectacular free-kick into the top corner and then added a third to wrap up a comfortable victory.

Bayern coach Niko Kovac took the opportunity to hand a debut to loanee forward Philippe Coutinho in the last 35 minutes, and after a frustrating start to the season the champions are starting to look more like themselves.

Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel, heavily linked with a move to Bayern during the close season, made a good reaction save to keep a powerful Lewandowski header out after 15 minutes.

When Schalke's loanee full-back Jonjoe Kenny made a clumsy sliding challenge on Kingsley Coman four minutes later the referee had no option but to award a penalty that Lewandowski calmly stroked into net.

The second half was just four minutes old when Corentin Tolisso won a free-kick 25 yards from goal, prompting Lewandowski to unleash a scintillating strike that swerved away from Nubel and into the top-left corner.

With 15 minutes left, Coman burst down the right and crossed to the edge of the box where Lewandowski had time to take a touch before rattling a low shot into the bottom-right corner of the net to add gloss to the result.

 

What does it mean? Normal service resumed

After defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup and a draw with Hertha Berlin in their season opener, Bayern put paid to suggestions that they are on the wane with a calm, confident victory.

Lewandowski like a fine wine

Bayern's dependence on Lewandowski for firepower is often viewed as a weakness in their squad, but when he is in this kind of form that argument falls flat.

Toffee unstuck

Everton loanee Kenny enjoyed a clean sheet on his Schalke debut in a goalless draw with Borussia Monchengladbach, but his sloppy challenge on Coman ended any chance of another.

What's next?

Struggling Mainz travel to Munich for a clash with the champions on Saturday, while Schalke entertain Hertha.

Barcelona have a plan to land Neymar and the star forward's demands now appear to be known.

The Neymar saga is not yet over and it remains to be seen if the Brazil international will leave Paris Saint-Germain before the transfer window closes on September 2.

But Barcelona have a new plan to bring Neymar – who they sold to PSG for €222million two years ago – back to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA HAVE NEYMAR PLAN AS STAR DEMANDS €35M PER SEASON

Barcelona have worked out a new formula to convince PSG to sell Neymar to them, according to Spanish newspaper Sport.

The LaLiga champions will offer cash and a player to the Ligue 1 giants this year and PSG can choose between either another player or more money in 2020, the report says.

Meanwhile, Neymar, 27, wants €35m net per season and a five-year deal, according to Spanish television show Jugones.

ROUND-UP

- Alexis Sanchez's possible move from Manchester United to Inter is developing slowly. The Serie A giants are confident of signing the attacker in the next few days amid talks about the division of Sanchez's wage, according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.

- With Renato Sanches having left for Lille, Bayern Munich may be looking for a replacement. The Bundesliga champions remain interested in Espanyol midfielder Marc Roca, according to AS. However, Bayern want to pay €18m while the LaLiga side are hoping for Roca's release clause – €40m.

- Valencia are eyeing a move for Radamel Falcao after the Monaco striker ended talks with Galatasaray, reports AS. The Colombia international was heavily linked with a move to the Turkish giants, but Valencia may be looking for cover for Rodrigo, who could leave for Atletico Madrid.

- Also in Turkey, Rafinha is close to leaving Barcelona for Fenerbahce, according to O Jogo. Rafinha had been linked with a move to Valencia, but the 26-year-old could now be heading to Fenerbahce.

- Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has had few chances since joining PSG in 2018, but the forward has no plans to leave, according to L'Equipe. Lecce had been linked with a move for the Cameroon international.

Renato Sanches has completed a reported €25million move to Lille days after bemoaning Bayern Munich's apparent refusal to sell him.

Portugal international Sanches looked one of world football's most exciting talents when he starred on the big stage at Euro 2016, earning a lucrative transfer from Benfica to Bayern.

But the 22-year-old failed to impress in Germany, also enduring with an unsuccessful loan in the Premier League with Swansea City, and appeared set to depart in this transfer window.

Sanches suggested he was happy to stay during the close season but repeated his desire for more minutes and then aired frustrations when he came off the bench for five minutes in the Bundesliga opener against Hertha Berlin.

The midfielder said Bayern twice prevented him from leaving, yet he has now been allowed to move on, signing for Lille on a five-year contract after arriving in France on Friday.

"Renato Sanches asked us to transfer because he wanted to join a club where he would like more games," said Bayern's chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

"Unfortunately, we could not guarantee him this at Bayern. Match practice is also important to him because he wants to claim his place in the Portuguese national team for Euro 2020.

"I would like to thank Renato for his achievements and wish him all the best for his future on behalf of Bayern."

Lille finished second in Ligue 1 last season, qualifying for the Champions League, but lost star man Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal.

"My wish was to join Lille so I'm really happy to be here," Sanches told Lille's official website. "I was very well received and I hope everything will be fine for me.

"I have been in contact with [sporting director] Luis Campos for a long time already. His words and the project they carry with [president] Gerard Lopez convinced me, as did the confidence they show in me.

"I talked a lot with Jose Fonte, I always got on well with him. I do not know all my other team-mates well, but I cannot wait to meet them all. Go LOSC!"

Franck Ribery is to take on a new challenge in Serie A at the age of 36, having agreed a deal to join Fiorentina.

The winger has signed for La Viola on a free transfer after leaving Bayern Munich at the end of last season.

Ribery enjoyed 12 hugely successful years in Munich but is excited by the prospect of playing for "a big team" in "a beautiful city", while others of a similar age elect to wind down their careers on less high-profile shores.

The former Marseille man says he spoke with ex-team-mate Luca Toni before accepting Fiorentina's offer - a wise decision, given Toni is one of only four people to have represented both clubs as player or head coach.

Below, we look at how the others got on...

Stefan Effenberg
Bayern: 1990-92
Fiorentina:1992-94
Bayern (again): 1998-02

Although best known for his success at the heart of the midfield of Bayern - where he won three Bundesligas and the 2001 Champions League among nine trophies in total - Effenberg did spend two years in Tuscany.

Joining at the age of 24 after Lothar Matthaus had returned to Bayern to take his place, Effenberg endured a miserable first season as Fiorentina were relegated from Serie A. He helped them bounce straight back to the top flight as Serie B champions, though, before returning to Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach.

 

Mario Gomez
Bayern: 2009-13
Fiorentina: 2013-16

Gomez won the treble in 2012-13 in his final season with Bayern before heading to Florence, having scored 113 goals in 174 appearances in all competitions and lifted seven trophies.

The striker's time in Italy was unlucky, though, with knee ligament damage restricting him to only 21 starts in Serie A before he was loaned to Besiktas for the 2015-16 campaign. He helped them win the Turkish Super Lig.

 

Franck Ribery
Bayern: 2007-19
Fiorentina: 2019-?

Winning 23 trophies in 12 seasons is remarkable by anyone's standards, and it highlights just how important Ribery has been to Bayern's restoration as the pre-eminent force in German football over the past decade.

The treble of 2012-13 was his crowning achievement and should, arguably, have seen him win the Ballon d'Or. Since then, injuries have begun to take their toll, and it is unclear just how effective the Frenchman will prove to be in Italy.
 

Luca Toni
Fiorentina: 2005-07
Bayern: 2007-10
Fiorentina (again): 2012-13

Toni won the World Cup with Italy midway through an impressive first spell with Fiorentina, prompting Bayern to spend a reported €11.6million to take the striker to Germany.

Three domestic trophies in his first season were followed by a more fallow spell, however, while an Achilles injury and disagreements with coach Louis van Gaal led to his departure in 2010. A return to Fiorentina would come three years later, where he enjoyed a single productive season before heading for Hellas Verona.

 

Giovanni Trapattoni
Bayern: 1994-95
Bayern (again): 1996-98
Fiorentina: 1998-00

For a man who turned out for just two clubs as a player, Trapattoni has certainly enjoyed a nomadic coaching career.

He was twice Bayern boss, winning the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and DFB-Ligapokal in his second spell, before he returned to Italy with Fiorentina. Those two years in Florence ended trophyless, but they were enough to land him the job with the national team.

Barcelona are officially making a move for Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain are set to reject their offer.

The Neymar saga is seemingly no closer to ending as the Brazil star looks to leave the Ligue 1 champions before the transfer window closes on September 2.

Barca are set to at least make a bid as they aim to get a deal done for their former star, but it will be rejected.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO REJECT BARCELONA'S LOAN BID FOR NEYMAR

PSG have no interest in initially loaning Neymar to Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

It was reported the bid from LaLiga's champions would be for a temporary move, but PSG want an outright transfer so they can find a replacement for the forward, amid reported interest in Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala.

Barcelona are willing to accept a purchase option if €160million can be paid in instalments, according to Sport.

Meanwhile, the cover of Marca says Neymar is entering "Zone Florentino", referencing Real Madrid president Perez as Barca's rivals maintain hope of signing the 27-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- There could be plenty of movement at Barcelona late in the window. Juventus are discussing a potential swap deal to land Ivan Rakitic and see Emre Can head to Camp Nou, according to Tuttosport, which says the Catalans also put Luis Suarez on the table.

- One midfielder not leaving Turin is Blaise Matuidi. RMC Sport reports the France international will stay at Juventus amid links to PSG and Bayern Munich, with Can seemingly more likely to depart the Serie A champions.

- Mariano Diaz's future is uncertain. AS claims Mariano is not in Real Madrid's plans for this season, but no club has come close to meeting a €20m valuation of the forward.

- Franck Ribery is set to become a Fiorentina player. The former Bayern Munich star has agreed to a deal with the Serie A club, according to Sport Bild and Gianluca Di Marzio, with the Frenchman set to sign on Thursday.

- Amid reported interest from Manchester City and Manchester United, Jadon Sancho is said to be re-signing with Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old England international has sealed a £190,000-per-week long-term deal with Dortmund, according to the Daily Mail.

- Michy Batshuayi is not ready to give up on his Chelsea career. The Belgium striker wants to stay and fight for a place in Frank Lampard's team, according to the Evening Standard.

Renato Sanches' public criticism of Bayern Munich for apparently not letting him leave the club has been met with bafflement by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

The 22-year-old joined Bayern to much fanfare in 2016 after impressing with Benfica and Portugal, establishing himself as one of the world's most promising teenagers.

But things have not gone to plan for Sanches in the Bundesliga, struggling before and since an unsuccessful loan spell at Swansea City in 2017-18.

Niko Kovac's appointment at Bayern last year appeared to provide Sanches with hope of kickstarting his career in Germany, but again his impact was underwhelming.

After a five-minute cameo in Friday's 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin, Sanches complained about his playing time and questioned why the club had twice refused to let him leave, much to Salihamidzic's confusion.

"Renato has played three times since the start the season," Salihamidzic told reporters during the presentation of new signing Mickael Cuisance, midfield challenger to Sanches' place in the squad.

"Against Borussia Dortmund he was subbed on, in the DFB-Pokal he started and this weekend, although it was only for five minutes, he was also subbed on.

"Therefore, I didn't really understand why he had to make these remarks. We will see [if he stays], I already explained on Monday that we'll keep all our options open until September 2 [when the transfer window closes].

"Other than that, I don't want to say much more about it."

Cuisance, 20, will be hoping to not fall short of expectations at Bayern like Sanches, with Salihamidzic revealing the club to be long-time admirers of the France youth international talent, who joins from Borussia Monchengladbach for a reported €12million.

"We always tried to get him to Bayern," Salihamidzic said of Cuisance. "He is a player who can play all positions in midfield.

"He is a very creative player with a very good left foot. He is very creative and feels comfortable in a small spaces. Even under pressure, he has no problems and has great technique.

"He has a very good idea of the game, which has been seen in the French youth teams. He also showed this in his first year in Monchengladbach, so he is very interesting for our team.

"We expect him to develop further here and I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun with him."

Jurgen Klopp revealed Liverpool could not afford to bring Philippe Coutinho back to Anfield as he backed the attacker to shine at Bayern Munich.

Coutinho's move to the Bundesliga champions was confirmed on Monday, the Brazil international joining on a season-long loan from Barcelona with Bayern holding an option to buy for €120million.

The 27-year-old had also been linked with a return to Liverpool, where he starred for five seasons before joining Barca.

Klopp said the European champions could not spend the money required to sign Coutinho, with Bayern paying an €8.5m loan fee and the star's wages.

"It sounds a bit strange, but we could not afford it," he said at the Sport Bild awards on Monday.

"We have already spent the money that we got for him."

Klopp backed Coutinho to shine for Bayern after struggling to have an impact at Barcelona.

"He's a great player, a great boy," the former Borussia Dortmund coach said.

"We were reluctant to sell him, but Barcelona forced us with money, so to speak.

"He is a player who can change games for the positive. It's not that nice for Dortmund, but it's a great transfer for Bayern and the Bundesliga."

Bayern Munich-bound Philippe Coutinho will be head and shoulders above every other player in the Bundesliga, according to former team-mate Marko Grujic.

Coutinho, 27, is on the cusp of joining Niko Kovac's side on a season-long loan from Barcelona.

The agreement will include an option for Bayern to sign the Brazilian on a permanent basis, their sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed.

Hertha Berlin midfielder Grujic played alongside Coutinho at Liverpool and thinks German football fans are in for a treat.

"It's a big deal for the whole Bundesliga that we now have the opportunity to see Coutinho," Grujic told Sport Bild.

"He is a special, exciting player, capable of crazy things. He has incredible tricks and skills. I enjoyed every training session with him.

"He will be the best footballer in Germany by far."

Coutinho is expected to undergo a medical in Bavaria on either Sunday or Monday.

His new club started their title defence with a 2-2 draw at home to Hertha on Friday, Grujic scoring the second for the visitors before Robert Lewandowski completed his brace to force a share of the spoils.

First Romelu Lukaku. Now Alexis Sanchez?

Lukaku left Manchester United for Inter and former team-mate Sanchez could join the powerhouse Belgian in Milan.

Antonio Conte's Inter are set to be active before the transfer window closes.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHEZ SET FOR INTER

Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez has agreed terms with Inter, according to Sky Italia.

Sanchez has endured a nightmare spell since joining United from Premier League rivals Arsenal in 2018, managing just five goals in all competitions.

While United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has publicly declared Sanchez will play a significant role this season, the Chilean is reportedly poised to join former Red Devils striker Romelu Lukaku at Inter.

 

ROUND-UP 

- Real Madrid will make a late €65million (£60m) bid to sign Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, The Sun reports. The Danish star has been linked to Atletico Madrid and Juventus, while Madrid have been talking to Ajax about Donny van de Beek as they struggle to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United.

- Le Parisien says Neymar remains convinced he will leave Paris Saint-Germain before the transfer window shuts. It comes as Sport claims Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has taken command to re-sign the Brazilian, who left for a world-record fee in 2017.

- According to the Mirror, Manchester United are ready to pay defender Marcos Rojo to leave Old Trafford. With two years remaining on his contract, Rojo was linked with a deadline-day move to Everton. The Argentina international is now reportedly pushing for a loan switch to Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

Bayern Munich want to re-sign Mario Mandzukic from Juventus, claims Bild. Mandzukic spent two years at Bayern, where he won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and the Champions League.

- It comes as Soccerlink reports Serie A champions Juve have turned to Lyon forward Moussa Dembele, with Inter outcast Mauro Icardi proving difficult to sign.

Napoli are preparing to relaunch a €60m bid to sign Icardi, according to Corriere dello Sport. Juventus are willing to offer Paulo Dybala in a swap deal but Inter are reluctant to deal with the Bianconeri. Napoli are also reportedly set to complete the signing of PSV's Hirving Lozano, who will undergo a medical on Wednesday.

AC Milan have asked Tottenham for full-back Serge Aurier on loan with an option to buy, claims Soccerlink.

Robert Lewandowski believes Philippe Coutinho will make a seamless transition to Bayern Munich after the Bundesliga champions agreed to a deal to sign the Barcelona playmaker.

Coutinho is set to join Bayern on loan for the 2019-20 season – the deal including an option to buy the Brazil international – after the German giants and Barca confirmed on Friday that an agreement is in place.

Bayern have been desperate to reinforce their squad following the departures of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, and the conclusion of James Rodriguez's loan deal from Real Madrid.

Ivan Perisic arrived after a serious knee injury scuppered Bayern's attempts to sign Manchester City star Leroy Sane, and Coutinho is poised to follow in Munich.

"I don't think he'll need that much time to adapt to our system and ideas," Lewandowski told reporters of Coutinho after scoring twice in Bayern's 2-2 draw at home to Hertha Berlin in the club's Bundesliga opener.

"I think he's the sort of player that can settle in without many problems."

Coutinho has struggled to cement his place at Camp Nou since joining Barca in a reported €160million transfer from Liverpool in January 2018.

The 27-year-old scored five league goals as Barca retained their LaLiga crown in 2018-19, while he managed 11 in all competitions.

It was not all good news following Friday's agreement as Bayern midfielder Renato Sanches vented his frustration with his lack of playing time.

Sanches – who has struggled since joining from Benfica in 2016 – made a brief appearance against Hertha, the Portuguese an 85th-minute replacement for Thomas Muller.

Upset with the situation following two unsuccessful attempts to leave, the 21-year-old Sanches said: "Of course I'm disappointed, it's the second time the club has not let me go, five minutes is not enough for me."

Asked about Sanches' comments, Bayern head coach Niko Kovac added: "I cannot say anything about that, I did not speak to him."

Philippe Coutinho wanted to leave Barcelona at the end of last season as he prepares to join Bayern Munich on loan, according to Ernesto Valverde.

Barca and Bayern confirmed on Friday that an agreement is in place for Coutinho to move to the Bundesliga champions for the 2019-20 campaign – the deal including an option to buy the playmaker.

Coutinho had been linked to Paris Saint-Germain as a makeweight in a possible deal for former Barca star Neymar, however, the Brazilian is now set for Munich after watching Friday's shock 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao from the stands.

Asked about Coutinho following Barca's disappointing LaLiga opener, head coach Valverde told Movistar: "It is a situation that last season when the league ended the player had it in his head.

"This has come up, he has accepted and hopefully he is lucky."

Coutinho, who will help to replace James Rodriguez after his two-year loan from Real Madrid ended, has struggled to cement his place at Camp Nou since joining Barca in a reported €160million transfer from Liverpool in January 2018 – a move that saw him become the world's second most expensive player.

The 27-year-old Brazil international scored five league goals as Barca retained their LaLiga crown in 2018-19, while he managed 11 in all competitions.

Coutinho is set to follow another loan signing – Ivan Perisic – through the door, though sections of Bayern's fanbase were not impressed by the deal to sign the Inter forward, who came in as an alternative to Leroy Sane after the Manchester City winger suffered a serious knee injury.

 

Bayern Munich are set to sign Philippe Coutinho on a season-long loan from Barcelona and the deal includes an option to buy the playmaker, Hasan Salihamidzic has confirmed.

Coutinho was not involved as LaLiga champions Barca suffered a surprise opening-day defeat to Athletic Bilbao on Friday, with the club's official spokesman Guillermo Amor announcing prior to kick-off an agreement had been reached to send the former Liverpool man to Bayern.

Bayern got off to a similarly sluggish start to their Spanish counterparts, drawing 2-2 at home to Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga curtain raiser.

After the clash at Allianz Arena, Bayern sporting director Salihamidzic – who also revealed Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Mickael Cuisance will be joining the Bundesliga champions – announced a deal for Coutinho is in place.

"I can confirm that [Bayern chairman] Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and I have been in Barcelona this week and we have reached an agreement with Barcelona, with the player and his agent," he told ZDF.

"We have had very good discussions, I would like to thank Barcelona. Of course, there are still missing a few details, including the medical check and the signature.

"It is a transfer on loan for one year followed by a purchase option for Bayern."

Coutinho, who will help to replace James Rodriguez after his two-year loan from Real Madrid ended, has struggled to cement his place at Camp Nou since joining Barca in a reported €160million transfer in January 2018, a move that saw him become the world's second most expensive player.

The Brazil midfielder is set to follow another loan signing – Ivan Perisic – through the door, though sections of Bayern's fanbase were not impressed by the deal to sign the Inter forward, who came in as an alternative to Leroy Sane after the Manchester City winger suffered a serious knee injury.

"Nowadays it is not easy in the transfer market," Salihamidzic continued. "We tried very hard, it is clear that we want to offer our fans something spectacular. But to reinforce this team is not easy.

"With Perisic, some will see that he is a really good player. Coutinho will offer us options; he can play in the middle or can come from the left. The fans can be happy."

Bayern boss Niko Kovac, meanwhile, believes German football fans should be delighted a player of Coutinho's quality is joining the Bundesliga.

"I am of the opinion that we – and I do not only refer to Bayern Munich but also to the whole Bundesliga, whole Germany – can be happy to welcome such a top player here in this league," Kovac told a news conference after the draw with Hertha.

"He is a player that not only proved this in the clubs but also at the national team. If you look at the last Copa America, then you know what I am talking about. We are very delighted and I think he will fit well. He will show us what he is capable of – namely playing football very well."

Robert Lewandowski scored a double but Bayern Munich failed to get their Bundesliga campaign off to a winning start as they drew 2-2 with Hertha Berlin at Allianz Arena.

Lewandowski's 24th-minute goal put Niko Kovac's side, who are set to sign Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho on loan, ahead on Friday but Hertha turned the game on its head in the space of two minutes.

Dodi Lukebakio's fortunate strike restored parity in the 36th minute before Marko Grujic capitalised on sloppy Bayern defending.

Grujic turned from Hertha's hero to villain just prior to the hour, however, when his needless foul on Lewandowski was spotted by VAR but, although Bayern's striker tucked in the resulting penalty, the hosts could not carve out a winner.

Bayern wasted little time in flexing their muscles and the champions hit the front when Lewandowski pounced on Serge Gnabry's cross.

Gnabry turned provider again two minutes later, but Corentin Tolisso was unable to beat Rune Jarstein and Bayern were swiftly made to pay for the miss.

Lukebakio tried his luck from range and was rewarded as his effort deflected off Vedad Ibisevic and beyond a flat-footed Manuel Neuer.

The turnaround was complete two minutes later – Grujic racing onto Ibisevic's throughball before coolly slotting under Neuer.

Jarstein came to Hertha's rescue again after the restart, diving in bravely at Kingsley Coman's feet before he pulled off a superb stop to deny Gnabry.

But Jarstein's good work was undone when Grujic ludicrously hauled down Lewandowski, who sent Hertha's goalkeeper the wrong way from 12 yards.

Lewandowski looked set to snatch the spoils in the final minute of stoppage time but, under pressure from a defender, failed to direct his close-range header on target as Bayern had to settle for a point.

What does it mean? Bayern have plenty of work to do

Kovac came under much scrutiny last season but his side ended 2018-19 in sensational form, going unbeaten in their final 14 Bundesliga matches as they snatched the title ahead of Borussia Dortmund and then won the DFB-Pokal.

But, having already lost to Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup, Bayern know that even the goals of Lewandowski and imminent arrival of Coutinho may not be enough to hold off Lucien Favre's side for a second season running.

Record-setting Lewandowski at it again

Lewandowski may be the wrong side of 30, but he is showing no signs of slowing down.

He was in inspired form on Friday, grabbing his opener – a record-setting fifth consecutive strike from the Poland international in an opening Bundesliga match – with a typical poacher's finish before slamming in Bayern's equaliser from the spot.

Grujic's moment of madness costs Hertha

Hertha's Grujic took a blow to the head in the build up to his goal, and being dizzy from that knock is the only excuse he can have for his bizarre decision to drag down Lewandowski.

What's next?

Bayern travel to Schalke on August 24 in what is David Wagner's first home game in charge of his new club, while Hertha host Wolfsburg.

Halfway through last season, Borussia Dortmund were in pole position to dethrone Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

The new year saw Lucien Favre's bright young side falter just enough for Bayern's know how to tell, with Niko Kovac's men claiming a seventh successive top-flight crown.

But it means the anticipation is for a memorable tussle once again this time around, with the processions of recent campaigns hopefully a thing of the past. Throw in an ambitious chasing pack and you have quite a spectacle.

Before the first ball is kicked, five Omnisport journalists have put their necks on the line with some top-four predictions.

We totted up the overall scores and here's what we came up with. Apologies in advance to all at Signal Iduna Park…

 

1st – Borussia Dortmund

Unlike our near-unanimous choice for Manchester City to be Premier League champions, the panel was understandably split down the middle over who will prevail out of Dortmund and Bayern. BVB just got the edge.

STRENGTHS: Wonderful attacking quality, expertly coached by Favre, which is now bolstered by the arrivals of Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard. The returning Mats Hummels – alongside the likes of the talismanic Marco Reus and Axel Witsel – ensures a pleasing blend between experience and future stars.

WEAKNESSES: Can they handle the pressure better than last time around? Hummels is a fine addition but has a significant job on his hands to shore up a vulnerable defence in front of the gifted but error-prone Roman Burki.

2nd – Bayern Munich

Despite an unconvincing close season in the transfer market, defined by the unseemly Leroy Sane saga, it remains hard to back against the Bundesliga's dominant force. But we have!

STRENGTHS: Supreme title-winning pedigree and, although lacking some of the depth they would like, the best collection of individual players in the league. Robert Lewandowski is going for a fifth Torjagerkanone, while there are signs Manuel Neuer might be back to his best.

WEAKNESSES: Light in attack after the departures of club greats Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Significant doubts remain over whether Kovac is the right man from the job, seemingly from the terraces to boardroom level. As such, Uli Hoeness' mooted departure as chairman could lead to turmoil.

3rd – RB Leipzig

German football's new kids on the block were the only other a unanimous choice to finish inside the top four.

STRENGTHS: Julian Nagelsmann has cast himself as a generational coaching talent and should be the man to take last season's beaten DFB-Pokal finalists on to the next level. They have bought shrewdly by bringing in the likes of Christopher Nkunku and Ademola Lookman.

WEAKNESSES: The distraction of star forward Timo Werner entering the final year of his contract. Adapting to Nagelsmann's detailed pressing system is likely to be a challenge.

4th – Bayer Leverkusen

Peter Bosz's time in charge of Dortmund might have ended abruptly but he is doing plenty to convince with a vibrant Leverkusen side.

STRENGTHS: Kai Havertz scored 20 goals in all competitions last season and is a superstar-in-waiting. They have bought well, with Moussa Diaby an exciting replacement for Brandt. The arrival of Hoffenheim duo Kerem Demirbay and Nadiem Amiri also strengthens Bosz's hand significantly.

WEAKNESSES: The coach's system is always likely to lead to defensive vulnerability and there is a lack of quality cover for Jonathan Tah and Sven Bender at centre-back.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.