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Champions League injury to cost Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm two games

Nov 28, 2013, 10:47 PM EDT

Czech Republic Soccer Champions League AP

A plague of hamstring problems is taking down the world’s biggest stars. First it was Lionel Messi. Then last weekend, Cristiano Ronaldo joined him. Now Philipp Lahm, so important the Bayern Munich’s early success this season, will miss two games after picking up a right hamstring injury during Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League game in Moscow.

Bayern remained perfect through the first five games of their European title defense, downing Russian champions CSKA Moscow 3-1 at Khimki Arena. Lahm, however, was forced off after 26 minutes, marking the first time in his career the German international has been withdrawn before halftime. Javi Martínez dropped back into Lahm’s defensive midfield role, with Thiago Alcántara coming on to play the match’s final hour.

From the Bundesliga’s official web site:

An initial scan revealed tissue damage to his right thigh and after a return to Munich the club confirmed that the 30-year-old will miss Matchday 14′s Bundesliga fixture against Eintracht Braunschweig as well as the DFB Cup game away to FC Augsburg next week.

Bayern shouldn’t have any trouble in either match, but had this injury come earlier in the season, the team would have been in real trouble. An injury crisis in central midfield forced Lahm from his customary fullback’s role into a spot in front of the defense, a position he’s never played before. Pep Guardiola’s confidence in the 30-year-old’s on-field intelligence led him to use his captain in the middle, a spot he has since played for the German national team.

Now, with Martínez and Alcántara back, Bayern Munich has more cover in central midfield. Guardiola won’t be forced into another improvised solution, though with Bastian Schweinsteiger out until the beginning of the year, the defending Bundesliga champions can scarcely afford a third ailment in central midfield before their league’s winter break.