Happy Friday to all. First, a quick look through the morning papers gives us a wealth of Bayern-related stories. Sorry for the lack of links, our HTML-writer is acting up. I'll try to come back and add links and pictures later.
- Miro Klose looks firmly set to leave. Lazio have been considered the favorites to land him, and Klose himself has spoken positively about a move to Rome. But Spurs and Everton have also weighed bids, and today Turkish side Trabzonspor has appeared as another possible suitor. Hopefully Klose can go somewhere that makes him happy and score some goals - he’s been the odd man out for a while now, with Gomez playing well, Olic coming back from injury, and now Petersen on board.
- The Eden Hazard to Bayern rumors are back on. The Belgian is one of the highest rated players under 21 in the world, and wanted by big clubs in several countries. If he were to come to Bayern, he’d probably have to start as a back-up, but considering he could play in the Ribery spot, the Müller spot, or the Robben spot, it probably wouldn’t be long before he got a chance to play (especially considering we’ll be playing in three competitions starting in mid-August, and Ribery and Robben are constantly battling injuries). But I expect Hazard to end up going somewhere where he can be a startee from the first day.
- We have declared ourselves uninterested in Boateng at his current price tag. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Manchester City come down on price a bit in the next few weeks, but if they’re starting at 20 million, they have a LOT of coming down to do.
Most teams involved in Euro qualifying are in action this weekend, and some teams even play twice. Not only is this a good chance to see Bayern players in international action, but it also gives us an opportunity to get a look at some of these guys we’re supposedly chasing. Let’s open the schedule and see what we can find:
Germany vs. Austria and Germany vs. Azerbaijan
The German side plays this afternoon and again this coming Tuesday. Germany is a perfect 5 for 5 so far, and a pretty solid bet to run away with Group A, although the Austrians should give them a good test this afternoon in Vienna. We know that Bastian is still nursing various maladies, but Gomez, Badstuber, Lahm, Müller, and Neuer should all be on hand for both of these. Please, guys, just don’t tear up a knee.
Both of these games are on ESPN 3 if you’re in the USA.
Italy vs. Estonia
Possible Bayern targets Giorgio Chiellini and Domenico Criscito are both expected to start for the Italians, who lead Group C by a comfortable margin. Estonia is not as hapless as you might think - 7 points earned and 7 goals scored in 5 matches so far - so maybe those two will have some chance to show whether they can shut down a decent attack. This one is not available in the States, but I’m sure it’s on RAI Uno. Does that still exist?
Belgium vs. Turkey
Belgium and Turkey are currently locked in a battle for the all-important second-place spot in Group A. Belgium has one more point than Turkey, but has also played one more game. The winner of this match has a great chance to cruise to a spot in the play-off round (the winner of each of the 9 qualifying groups goes straight to the European Championships, along with the best runner-up. The other 8 runners-up enter a play-off round, from which 4 will emerge). If it ends in a draw, Turkey probably has a slight edge in that chase, due to their game in hand.
Bayern defender Daniel van Buyten is not only the vice-captain of the Belgian team, but also its leading active scorer - 9 goals in his 10-year career with the national side. I’m not gonna lie, I would really enjoy watching DvB make it to the Euro Championships. Bayern target Eden Hazard will also make an appearance, although he’s been coming off the bench in most Belgium matches so far this tournament. Now that Altintop and Ekici have been sold, no Bayern players remain on the Turkish side (although I still think they’re a fun team to watch).
The last match between these two was a barn-burner, with 4 goals scored in the second half Turkey winning 3-2. This one is on ESPN 3 at 2:45 my time, I believe 7:45 local time - for my money, this is a more exciting match than Germany vs. Austria.
Croatia vs. Georgia
Ivica Olic is still rehabbing his knee, but Danijel Pranjic will be in action for Croatia. In a group they thought they had a good chance to win, Croatia finds themselves in second place behind Greece, and with Israel breathing down their necks. After missing out on the World Cup, Slaven Bilic’s boys know they can’t fail to qualify for the Euro Championships, so this one is vital. Plus, it could be cool to see Pranjic actually play in his natural position, rather than getting stuffed into the back corner.
Iceland vs. Denmark
This battle of the Vikings gives the Danes a chance to get back in the discussion in Group H, where they’re currently tied for second place with Portugal, 3 points behind surprise leaders Norway.
Yesterday, reader "smartguy" said that Kjaer has been dropped from the Denmark U-21 side. I’m not sure whether that means he’ll be playing with the senior team or not - he was playing with both for a while, maybe they want him to focus only on the Euro qualifiers? Or did he pick up a knock? I fully confess my general ignorance of Danish football, so anyone with better info can leave it in the comments or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, the Bendtner-to-Bayern rumors won’t die, so I’m hoping one of two things will happen: either he’ll play so poorly that everyone will see he’s no better than Nils Petersen (much less Gomez or Olic), or else he’ll play so well that I convince myself it wouldn’t be a disaster. This one will be carried by ESPN 3.
France vs. Belarus
Ribery is expected to play in this Group D throw-down. After some early jitters, the French have settled in nicely and sit high atop the table in this group. A win today would basically stamp their ticket to Poland/Ukraine next year.
Portugal vs. Noway
Fabio Coentrao is off the radar at this point, but this is the best late game tomorrow anyway (kicks off at 4 PM tomorrow afternoon), so if you’re not busy, check him out. With Denmark having a favorable match-up against Iceland (see above), Portugal could be practically eliminated from contention with a loss here.
Who am I forgetting? Are we chasing anyone who plays for Sweden, Romania, Finland, Ireland, Montenegro, or the Faroe Islands? African Cup of Nations teams are active this weekend, too, although I can’t figure out if those are going to be televised. Who are we chasing from Ghana, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast? Let me know in the comments, and enjoy the weekend of international ball. And, just enjoy the weekend.