Just six months after finding himself on the losing side in the 2013 Champions League final, Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski revealed that he had agreed to join Bayern Munich on a free transfer.The Polish frontman had played a pivotal role in Jurgen Klopp’s side reaching Wembley by becoming the first player to score four goals in a Champions League semi-final – against Real Madrid, no less.However, Dortmund were ultimately defeated in the tournament decider in London by Bayern, the same side that had consigned them to second place in the Bundesliga and eliminated them on the way to completing a historic treble by winning the DFB-Pokal. Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Since moving to Bavaria, Lewandowski has won the Bundesliga title every single year and lifted the top scorer trophy on three occasions.However, he has never got as close to winning the Champions League as he did with Dortmund.Bayern have reached the semi-finals three times during the Lewandowski era, losing to Spanish opposition in each of those ties, as well as losing a quarter-final clash with the eventual winners in 2016-17, Real Madrid.Last season, they were also knocked out by the side that went to win the tournament outright, Liverpool, but their limp last-16 exit only cast further doubt on Bayern’s ability to compete with the very best teams in Europe.After the decisive second-leg loss at the Allianz Arena, Lewandowski hit out at coach Niko Kovac’s tactics, which had left the centre-forward isolated and frustrated in attack, unable to add to his record of 53 Champions League goals in 80 appearances.That figure puts him sixth in the all-time top scorer list for both European Cup and Champions League, just three goals behind Ruud van Nistelrooy, whom he should overtake this season.That will leave just Karim Benzema (60 goals), Raul (71), Lionel Messi (112) and Cristiano Ronaldo (126) ahead of Lewandowski in the all-time list.All four of those players above the Pole have won the competition multiple times, which appears to be why Lewandowski is rarely mentioned in the same breath as his rivals.The chances of Lewandowski moving up to fifth in the all-time rankings are very high, though, especially if he continues his scoring ratio of 0.66 goals per game in the tournament.He turned 31 in August, but has shown no sign of slowing down, scoring all five of Bayern Munich’s goals in their first two games of the 2019-20 Bundesliga season.Like Champions League topscorer Ronaldo, Lewandowski has adapted his game and even improved his all-round performance as he has aged.Whereas other clubs rely on multiple options at striker, Bayern have not recruited an experienced backup for the Poland international, with Jann-Fiete Arp signed this summer but utilised on the wing in pre-season, such is the faith in Lewandowski’s fitness and ability.In 2018-19, his improved all-round game was illustrated by the fact that he provided 10 assists on top of his 22 league goals; he had created just two goals the season before.Lewandowski’s influence, then, is only growing, meaning he will be even more important to Bayern’s upcoming bid to win a sixth European Cup.The Bavarians have signed Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic in the past few weeks and these attacking additions should provide them with the kind of creativity that was so conspicuous by its absence against Liverpool last season.Barcelona loanee Coutinho is certainly looking forward to working with Lewandowski, admitting that he has already been blown away by the 31-year-old’s quality and work ethic.“He’s incredible, just world-class,” Coutinho told reporters after the 3-0 win at Schalke at the weekend. “It’s incredible, the way he trains.”I’ve been here a week and watching him up close he’s so much better than you think on TV. He had a great game, a great hat-trick and he deserves it.”Indeed, Lewandowski is essentially reaping the rewards of a relentless, Ronaldo-esque pursuit of perfection, which unsurprisingly endeared him to former Bayern boss Pep Guardiola, a coach who always demands the very highest standards from his players.”He is the most professional player I have ever met,” the Catalan said in 2016. “In his head, he thinks about the right food, sleep and training 24 hours a day.”He is always there, never injured, because he focuses on these things. I was always very, very pleased with him, from the first moment.”Zurücklehnen und genießen! 😍@lewy_official #FCBayern #MiaSanMia pic.twitter.com/3PfkwHqSVC— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) August 27, 2019With athletes like Ronaldo and NFL superstar Tom Brady still putting in peak performances late in their careers, Lewandowski has followed a similar path thanks to a personalised nutrition plan designed by his wife, karate champion and fitness expert Anna Lewandowska.The footballer has cut sweets and chocolate out of his diet as well, as alcohol and cow’s milk, and sometimes finds steak tartare on his daily breakfast menu.”I write his nutrition plans. I have deleted dairy products from the diet, as well as gluten,” Lewandowska told Fit and Fun. “Depending on the training phase, there is porridge made from millet or protein in the form of tartare for breakfast. Otherwise a lot of seafood and fish. We love pumpkin noodles.”Former Poland manager Adam Nawalka saw Lewandowski single-handedly take the team to the 2018 World Cup, with 16 goals in qualifying, a new European record. In total, he has 57 international goals in 106 games – only one active European has more: Cristiano Ronaldo.”He’s the best striker in the world,” Nawalka said last year. “He’s always developing and making progress and I don’t believe there’s anyone who can stop him.”Lewandowski is a long way away from Ronaldo’s 126 Champions League goals, and will find it difficult to add that trophy to his collection, but this season he will move into the top five European Cup goalscorers of all time and finally get the appreciation he deserves as one of the world’s best strikers.
First hotel in the region to offer one-of-a-kind movie-themed suites Marriott International today announced the opening of Aloft City Centre Deira, the company’s design-led Aloft brand’s third property in the buzzing city of Dubai. Owned and developed by Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Aloft City Centre Deira is situated in the cultural heart of Dubai and is the first hotel in the region to offer movie-themed suites, alongside a VOX Cinemas’ OUTDOOR screen and the Aloft brand’s signature programming. “Aloft continues to redefine the traditional hotel experience in the region and we are delighted to introduce the brand’s newest addition in the cultural heart of Dubai,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “Aloft City Centre Deira brings a new experience to Deira by delivering an urban-inspired gathering place for tech-savvy Next Gen travellers and local residents.” Jalil Mekouar, Chief Executive Officer of Hotels at Majid Al Futtaim – Properties said: “I’m delighted to introduce the Aloft City Centre Deira, which is our 13th hotel in the region. This is a milestone moment for Majid Al Futtaim as we integrate our VOX Cinemas brand into one of our hotels for the first time. This concept will provide a completely new offering within Dubai’s hospitality sector and will see us create even more authentic and personalised experiences that will delight guests in our home market. Aloft City Centre Deira is testament to our unique integrated destination offering, that brings together our award-winning hospitality, shopping, leisure and entertainment lifestyle excellences to create memorable experiences for our guests.” Aloft City Centre Deira delivers a fresh approach from the traditional hotel landscape with its emphasis on a lively, in-hotel social scene, modern design, innovative music programming, and thoughtful technology incorporated to enhance guest experience. Directly connected to City Centre Deira, Aloft features 304 loft-inspired rooms and suites – including four cinema-themed suites where movie lovers will be instantly transported to the magical world of films. Suite themes include Bollywood, Hollywood, Agent House and a specially created Dubai superhero suite, which is bound to excite all ages. Rooms also feature a luxurious mix of the brand’s signature offerings, such as an ultra-comfortable plush bed, a walk-in shower, custom amenities by Bliss® Spa, 49-inch LED TVs with Chromecast and SPG Keyless, the industry’s first mobile check-in system where guests can utilize their mobile phones as room keys. Aloft City Centre Deira brings six innovative and fresh dining concepts as well as social spaces to the neighborhood, such as Han Shi Fu – a modern Chinese and Asian fusion gastropub and restaurant by the award-winning team that introduced Din Tai Fung to Dubai. The restaurant is set to serve your favorite Asian dishes as well as the trendiest street food from cities such as Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York, and Los Angeles. Other offerings include The Canteen,which serves up “bowl meals” for everyone and “bowl-sharing” for a crowd, and a licensed VOX Cinemas’ OUTDOOR movie-watching experience where guests can enjoy movies in ultimate luxury and comfort along with their choice of food and beverage. The hotel will also feature the Aloft brand’s signature outlets, including W XYZ® Bar & Lounge – offering spectacular views of the city skyline along with a resident DJ and shisha on the terrace; Re:fuel by AloftSM, the brand’s signature 24/7 grab and go venue; and the Re:mixSM Lounge – a space for a bit of mix and mingle. Social spaces across the hotel will amplify the iconic global Live At Aloft Hotels programming that showcases live acoustic performances by up-and-coming artists. Business will boom in one of the five Tactic Rooms, equipped with the best technology such as smart boards that sync notes directly onto your phone, and spacious seating which extends to a breakout area. Guests can also go casual at the Backyard, the hotel’s outdoor event space, for business and social gatherings. Aloft City Centre Deira also offers a 24 hour Re:chargeSM fitness center and Splash pool – an infinity pool with sweeping views of the city. “We are excited to open our doors in such a renowned area of Dubai. Aloft City Centre Deira will bring a fresh and innovative feel and a very distinct hospitality experience to the neighborhood,” said Sammy Gani, General Manager, Aloft City Centre Deira. “With this being the first hotel to offer movie themed suites, along with an outdoor licensed cinema in partnership with VOX Cinemas and the Aloft brand’s signature music programming, we’re looking forward to bring a fresh new vibe to this side of Dubai.” All guests staying at Aloft City Centre Deira also have access to special offers to experience some of the best leisure and entertainment attractions in the city, like Ski Dubai, iFly and Orbi. Aloft City Centre Deira marks the fourth hotel collaboration between Majid Al Futtaim and Marriott International, following Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates, Le Meridien City Centre Bahrain, and Westin City Centre Bahrain and is Majid Al Futtaim’s 13th hotel in its portfolio. For more information visit: aloftcitycentredeira.com About Aloft HotelsWith more than 125 hotels now open in over 20 countries and territories around the world, Aloft Hotels, part of Marriott International, Inc., delivers a fresh approach to the traditional staid hotel landscape. For the ‘always on’ next generation of traveler, the Aloft brand offers a tech-forward, vibrant experience and a modern style that is different by design. Aloft is proud to participate in the industry’s award-winning loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest®. Members can now link accounts with Marriott Rewards®, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® at members.marriott.com for instant elite status matching and unlimited points transfer. For more information, please visit www.alofthotels.com and follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. About Marriott International, Inc.Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,500 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 127 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards®, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest®. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com. In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitterand Instagram. About Majid Al FuttaimFounded in 1992, Majid Al Futtaim is the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.A remarkable business success story, Majid Al Futtaim started from one man’s vision to transform the face of shopping, entertainment and leisure to ‘create great moments for everyone, every day’. It has since grown into one of the United Arab Emirates’ most respected and successful businesses spanning 15 international markets, employing more than 40,000 people, and obtaining the highest credit rating (BBB) among privately-held corporates in the region. Majid Al Futtaim owns and operates 23 shopping malls, 13 hotels and three mixed-use communities, with further developments underway in the region. The shopping malls portfolio includes Mall of the Emirates, Mall of Egypt, City Centre malls, My City Centre neighbourhood centres, and four community malls which are in joint venture with the Government of Sharjah. The Company is the exclusive franchisee for Carrefour in 38 markets across Middle East, Africa and Asia, and operates a portfolio of more than 230 outlets in 15 countries. Majid Al Futtaim operates 322 VOX Cinema screens and 34 Magic Planet family entertainment centres across the region, in addition to iconic leisure and entertainment facilities such as Ski Dubai, Orbi Dubai and Ski Egypt, among others. The Company is parent to the consumer finance company ‘Najm’, a fashion retail business representing international brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, AllSaints, lululemon athletica, Crate & Barrel and Maisons du Monde. In addition, Majid Al Futtaim operates Enova, a facility and energy management company, through a joint venture operation with Veolia, a global leader in optimised environment resource management. The Company also owns the rights to The LEGO Store and American Girl in the Middle East and operates in the food and beverage industry through a partnership with Gourmet Gulf.