How is that retirement life treating you, Tom?
Tom Starke thought he was done with professional soccer, announcing his retirement at the end of last season. Long-term injuries to Manuel Neuer, Sven Ulreich and Christian Früchtl forced Starke to jump in goal for Bayern’s Asia tour this summer as a favor to the club, which turned out to be a foreshadowing. With Neuer’s ongoing health issues, club management convinced Big Tom to put his new career as youth coach on hold, to be there as a security blanket in case anything happened to Sven and Christian. Well, that blanket was warm and cozy today, as Ulreich pulled up lame during warmups, and Früchtl had just undergone an operation earlier this week on his foot, and will miss six weeks, forcing Starke into action.
Starke’s solid game today — with some strong saves to keep a clean sheet -- brings the number of retirees coming back to help the club in times of need up to two, joining Jupp Heynckes in the savior role.
In case you were wondering, had anything happened to Tom, Ron Thorben Hoffmann, Bayern’s U19 goalkeeper, was sitting on the bench.
Do we really need Sandro Wagner? Hell, yeah!
The question has been floating around for quite a while, but it consistently — and for good reason — keeps coming up: Does Bayern need a quality backup to Robert Lewandowski? Today’s game answered that with a strong “Yes!”. The Polish striker was given a well-needed rest today by Jupp Heynckes, and Thomas Müller got the start up front, and, as gifted and intelligent a player as the interim Bayern captain is, he is not a true striker. He needs to have the freedom to roam, run into space left open by others, and create opportunities for others, and that’s not possible when he’s all the way up front.
Thankfully, Lewy was not injured, and could have started if needed, but, more than ever, if the Reds want to compete and win the Champions League, they need to get the Wagner deal done in the winter break. Even though the former Bayern youth product is nowhere near the level of Lewandowski, his style is similar, and he is able to hold up the ball, fight through the central defenders, and is strong in the air, and would provide more-than-adequate cover for their star striker.
Who won the Boateng family competition?
What was hyped as a big family rivalry between Frankfurt’s Kevin Prince Boateng and Bayern’s Jerome Boateng did not really materialize. KPB was mostly invisible on the field, not really driving play in the central midfield for Eintracht the way he usually does, while JB17 was a slide tackling fiend, and had himself a very solid game. Advantage, Jerome!
Harm Osmers did not have a good day
The 32-year old referee had a bit of a day to forget, especially if he goes back to review some of the game footage. Time and again, he fell for the embellishment and theatrics of the players, which caused him to make incorrect calls and pull unearned cards. And, before I’m accused of being a homer, Bayern players were just as guilty of it as the Frankfurt guys.
Video review saved Osmers from complete embarrassment, as the VAR official —rightly — questioned the red card handed out to Marius Wolf, and gave the ref a chance to right his mistake. Red turned to yellow, and Eintracht were allowed to continue with 11 men.
In the bigger picture, professional soccer, on all levels, needs to do something about this issue. Be it more video review — either during or after games — or more officials, or harder consequences for the play acting, something needs to happen to make the referee’s jobs easier.
Really? Kimmich is not in the top 10 of European RBs?
In case you missed it, ESPN FC ranked the top 100 players in Europe, including the top 10 at each position. While there is plenty of room for debate on who deserves to be ranked higher or lower than someone else, they completely missed the boat on the their top 10 RBs, with Joshua Kimmich, the undisputed starter for one of the biggest clubs in Europe and the number one national team, who was left out of the list completely.
Today, Kimmich once again showed what all the hype is all about. A strong game, as usual, both defensively and moving forward, as he registered his sixth assist of the season with that picture-perfect cross onto Arturo Vidal’s noggin for the game-deciding goal. Well done, Josh!