A CHAMPIONS League football hadn’t even been kicked before the first two-footed challenge came crashing in ahead of this one.

Bayern Munich’s players had not even boarded their aircraft to bring them to Scotland yesterday when word came through about one man who would not be making sure his seat belt was securely fastened. Robert Lewandowski, the imperious centre-forward, the focal point of all that the Germans do going forward, went off injured at the weekend against RB Leipzig due to a thigh injury. In what should have been a routine injury update, though, was soon turned into a piece of ammunition that will surely have ruffled a few green and white feathers.

Speaking about the injury, Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed the absentee, but added: “If we had played against Real Madrid, he might have gone.

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“The coach does not want to risk anything as Saturday’s game [against Borussia Dortmund], which is very important for us, is in the back of his mind.”

As the good lady often tells me, perhaps it’s not what you say but the way you say it. However, the under tone that Celtic, and the challenge of overcoming them, is of such a level that you don’t feel the need to push the boat out like you would do against other teams, is hardly the respectful pre-cursor to a game that will be played out with heart and fervour on both sides.

Indeed, it did not take long for the Bayern chief’s comments to be put to Jupp Heynckes at his pre-match press conference yesterday. Unsurprisingly, the 72-year-old was the smiling face of diplomacy who jumped out of the curve ball like Arjen Robben hurdling a full-back’s dangling leg while trying to salvage the situation.

“Rummenigge was a world class footballer and a professional and he has his own opinions,” he said. “But I have always protected my team and with Lewandowski not fit it would make no sense for him to have travelled over to tomorrow’s game.

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“If you took Benzema out of Real Madrid and Cavani out of PSG it would make a difference. But we are all big clubs and we have to cope with these injuries. We need to find a solution.

“We have to take precautions. Lewandowski will be receiving treatment and Tuesday’s game is too early for him. We will see about next week.”

While publicly Heynckes seemed unperturbed by Rummenigge’s comments, they did little to help the manager who comes to Scotland looking for the victory to take his team into the last 16 of the Champions League. It’s also a task that must be completed without Lewandowski and Thomas Muller.

Young Manuel Wintzheimer is about the only recognised striker fit for the Germans, but it’s likely that Kingsley Coman will be deployed as a false No.9 through the middle. Despite this headache, Heynckes appeared relaxed about the situation.

“The injuries to both players are unexpected. But I will find a solution,” he said. “There might be the possibility of playing a 4-4-2 formation with Robben and Coman up front but I will make that decision on Tuesday.

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“Arturo Vidal is very fast and very good up front but I have a different plan for tomorrow. All big teams face these difficulties with injuries. Many other teams face these kind of difficulties but we have to find a way through it.”

This isn’t Henyckes first trip to Scotland. As a player for Borussia Moenchengladbach he once trotted out at Pittodrie in the Uefa Cup in 1972 and at Hampden for Germany the following year. As a manager he has also presided over visits to Tannadice, Tynecastle and Ibrox.

None of it will likely compare to the hostile environment he and his team will walk into tomorrow night, though. He has faith though that his players will be unmoved by it.

“We have a lot of players on national teams and they are used to this kind of atmosphere. It is not going to be a problem for them.

“I played against Aberdeen and Dundee United years ago but I don’t have many memories of it. It was a long time ago.

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“But it’s always an amazing experience to play in Scotland. The players are super professionals and it doesn’t matter what stadium you are playing in, the atmosphere is first class.”

After throwing his manager under a bus earlier in the day with the comments above Lewandowski, Rummenigge was clear in what he was expecting from Match Day No.4 in Glasgow..

“We’ve never had such a high demand for tickets. There’s a great football atmosphere in Glasgow.

“It’s important we concentrate on the game. If we win we’re practically through, so it’d be nice to get the three points.”