Big news day for FC Bayern, coming off of yesterday’s solid win in the Pokal. Still a few things to work out, and there were some periods yesterday when the offense sputtered a bit, but this was better than last weekend (and miles ahead of the loss to Monchengladbach a few weeks ago). Today’s new stories - let’s start with the good:
- Xherdan Shaqiri Officially Joins FC Bayern
Excellent news, although it won’t come to fruition until the summer. This was rumored for the past few days, or even weeks, but it’s always great to get pen to paper. Shaqiri is exactly what we’re looking for in a new wing: he’s quick, he has a good nose for the goal, and he will hopefully be OK with sharing the spotlight, at least in his first year.
Robben has repeatedly declared that he’s staying, and that the new contract is just a “formality.” After yesterday, I wouldn’t be 100% sure about that, but even if Robben stays, we’re going to need another difference-maker when you factor in injuries, suspensions, and the brutal parts of the schedule when we have 5 matches inside of 15 days.
Welcome aboard, Xherdan. If you’re interested in following him, it appears that his official twitter feed is http://twitter.com/ShaqiriXherdan - looks like someone already snapped up “XherdanShaqiri” before he could get to it. It also looks like he’s not a very prolific tweet-er anyway. Moving on …
- Bastian Schweinsteiger to Miss A Month or More
In yesterday’s post-game wrap-up, I speculated it was a bad sprain. Turns out, I was wrong (who would have guessed?) - torn ligaments in the ankle, and a plaster cast placed on it last night. I’ve heard 4-6 weeks, I’ve heard “at least 4 weeks,” I’ve heard he could get out of the cast and into a special shoe in only 1 week. But either way, we’re back to where we were in November, which presents a few problems.
The natural move might seem to be moving Kroos back into the CM spot - to play along-side Tymoschuk or Gustavo, depending upon the opponent - and go with our traditional Ribery - Müller - Robben + Gomez forward line. I imagine we’ll do that this weekend. But Alaba looked very lively yesterday - not just quick on the ball, but he also showed good awareness and looked a little more assertive. I wouldn’t be shocked to see us keep the front 4 like they were yesterday (Gomez up top, Ribery - Kroos - Müller behind him, Robben available as second half super-sub) and then rotate any two of the Alaba - Tymo - Gustavo trio in the CM spots. We’re at home vs. Kaiserslautern on Saturday in a match we really should win. I’m very curious to see what Jupp decides.
Also, it appears ESPN Soccernet's report used a photo from Schweinsteiger’s LAST major injury, in the CL match vs. Napoli - we were wearing white yesterday. Or maybe Getty just has stock footage of “Bastian getting injured.”
- Update on Next Round of Pokal Play (UPDATED)
The draw will take place on Saturday. Apparently, this will happen at 11 PM local time, and my German skills still need a little work. Thanks to Eduspirits for the correction.
So, Saturday night, we find out who our next opponent will be: Monchengladbach, Dortmund, or SpVgg Fürth. The Halbfinalen will take place on March 20 or 21, which means that Bastian may or may not be back by then. Even if he is, he might be just returning and not back to 100% yet. This is also sandwiched between Bundesliga matches vs. Hertha and Hannover 96, and MAYBE a week before the first leg of the CL quarter-finals. Maybe. Keep in mind Manchester Untied thought they were a sure bet to get past Basel as well.
- Programming Notes
A ton of tech issues remain. The site was working slowly yesterday, and may even have been out entirely for a few minutes for some people. Sorry if you wanted to log on and couldn’t do so. We’re still in the process of the comment system upgrade, so just ignore any trolls for the time being. Also, the long-awaited upgrade to the SB Nation platform is still in the works, but has been bogged down by programming issues. On that, you know as much as I do.
Back tomorrow with a Kaiserslautern preview. A quick summary: they suck, but still might beat us. Thanks for reading.