Despite finally putting together a decent performance in earning third place at the Liga Total! Cup yesterday, FC Bayern fans go into the week in a very uncertain mood. As we discussed yesterday, Mario Gomez was the latest Bayern player to suffer a pre-season injury. As of Monday morning, here's a look at the trainer's table:
- David Alaba
Underwent surgery after a stress fracture to his foot. Supposedly, the surgery went well, but young Alabaster is probably looking at mid-September for a return date.
Suffered a ligament tear that didn't require surgery. It was hoped he might be ready by the start of the season, but now it appears he's going to miss at least the beginning of the Bundesliga season, and maybe 2 or even 3 weeks.
- Diego Contento
This dude really has some weak bones. Just when it seemed like he was finally going to get a chance to shine, Contento is back on the injury list. He was supposed to be "re-evaluated in 10 days," and that was 3 days ago, so I guess we're in the dark as to when he might be back.
- Claudio Pizarro
The club's official site said Pizza-man is nursing a "long-term hip injury." I could have sworn I saw footage of him at training this week, but for whatever reason, he didn't play at all in the Liga Total! Cup. It's unclear whether this is a nagging problem that has flared up, or something new that the club kept hidden for a few days. Either way, he's unavailable right when we need him, just like Contento.
- Mario Gomez
Watching Gomez walk off the pitch on Saturday, it looked like he was moving OK, so I hoped that taking him out of the match was just a precaution. No such luck. He needs surgery as well. Gomez is definitely out for the start of the season; depending upon how the surgery goes, it could be well into the season before he returns.
- Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian is NOT listed on the injury report, and he played this weekend. But he clearly isn't 100 percent, and it might be a good idea to let him take a few days off. Keep in mind he had both a broken collar-bone AND a shredded ankle last season, and he was rushed back in the late spring. Between the Pokal final, the CL final, and the European championships, he hasn't had a lot of sustained rest and recovery time. At least I hope we consider holding him out of the upcoming DFB Super-Pokal.
So, here's how our remaining roster looks, considering only healthy guys who are definitely ready for the start of the year:
van Buyten (man, we're really back to relying on him right away)
Gustavo (can play MF or any number of defensive spots - we'll stick him here for now)
MIDFIELD / WINGS
Robben (and it's only a matter of time before he joins the casualty list, I'm sure)
Bastian (again - I'd rather he not play this week)
Can (could play defense if we really need him to, but Gustavo is the better candidate to move back)
Shaqiri (could play striker / second striker in a pinch)
Weiser (was thought to be our 4th option / emergency guy, if not a Bayern II player this fall - now it looks like we might need him)
STRIKERS / SECOND-STRIKERS
Interestingly, it looks like we still have enough cover in the midfield - with Kroos and Tymo both playing decently, Shaqiri able to work from either wing, Can looking competent so far, and Ribery and Robben avoiding the injury plague as of yet, we have enough bodies to match up with anyone in the midfield. Defensively, we took a hit, but if Dante can get the job done and Goose can move back effectively, we're not horrible there. van Buyten has the strength and the experience to get us through a few weeks, or at least to be a solid second-half / situational option.
The biggest problem is now up front. We're relying totally on Mandzu - a guy who has shown flashes of talent, but was surely expected to be a change-of-pace / second half option when we bought him. Until Gomez comes back, "Other Mario" appears to be the man. And if he gets hurt or is completely ineffective, we might consider Müller up top (I've long thought this was worth a shot), and maybe even Tommy and Shaq up top in a 4-4-2?
My main concern now is that we DON'T rush people back from injury in an early season panic. As we saw last season, being the champions of October is worthless. We actually did bring in some depth this year, so let's allow the new boys to cut their teeth and give plenty of rehab time to Alaba, Gomez, and even Bastian if he needs it.
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