“Brittle ... snake-bitten ... injury-prone.”
Those are just some of the adjectives used by many (including me!) to sometimes describe the corps of Bayern Munich wingers. Maybe we all should remember to include a big “but” after any of those descriptive words and follow-up with, “talented, skilled, and dangerous.”
With Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, and Kingsley Coman as a “Big Three” of wingers, Hansi Flick has an immensely impactful and frightening group to roll out at the opposition. Coman asserted himself against Atletico Madrid in a big way with two goals and an assist, while Sane (injury) and Gnabry (COVID-19) were out of commission. Still, for the season, Sane and Gnabry were doing extremely well prior to going down.
For all of the griping from fans about the wing situation over the years, the depth chart is ridiculously talented from top-to-bottom. And sure, it’s unlikely that anyone can replicate the terrifying tandem of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in their respective primes, but this group can at least scare enough teams from the flanks that defenses will no longer be able to hunker in and try to prevent Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller from destroying them centrally.
But, let’s think about the overall depth for just a second. Aside of Sane, Gnabry, and Coman, Hansi Flick can roll out Douglas Costa, Thomas Muller, Alphonso Davies, and Jamal Musiala as emergency replacements. Moreover, Flick could reach down to Bayern Munich II and bring up Leon Dajaku or Fiete Arp if needed. What was at one point considered a weak spot on the roster is now an area of strength and each of those names listed above brings a different style of play and skill-set to the position.
Let’s appreciate that — it might have taken a while for the wing position to get to this point, but the end product sure looks to be worth it.
King of the 80s
As I was running on the treadmill earlier this week, AC/DC’s “Who Made Who?” came up on my playlist. Naturally, I kicked the speed up a few levels, but my brain started going even faster than my feet (which at 44, probably wasn’t really that quick).
I had a flashback to the tune appearing heavily in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “Trucks”, which was titled Maximum Overdrive. The film was heavy on 80s cheese, but has an endearing quality to it if you lived through that era. Well, as endearing as any movie about a comet’s radiation storm causing machines to take over the Earth can be.
As a bonus, AC/DC did the entire soundtrack, but my mind started to wander and I pondered what the best movie adaptations of King books were from the 80s. As a result, here is my personal top four list (based on the fact I was in elementary school during the 80s ... this list has nothing to do with what my adult self would think or what critics would think):
- Stand by Me: Set in the 1950s, this was a quintessential 80s coming of age movie for boys. If you grew up in the 80s, you probably loved this flick. A standout cast, fantastic story, and overall theme about what happens to friends as they grow older was wrapped around a quest to see a dead body. Fantastic on every level. How many notable actors were in this? River Phoenix, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, Jerry O’Connell, Richard Dreyfuss, and Will Wheaton to name a few. I will say, though, Marshall Bell’s turn as a depressed, angry, and tortured Mr. LaChance that helps give a psychological perspective on how Wheaton’s Gordie LaChance feels and why taking the journey to see a dead body is so important to him. And no one, absolutely no one, can forget the pie-eating contest with Davey Hogan (who was known by a more infamous name).
- The Running Man: Come on ... Arnold Schwarzenegger as scapegoated government agent Ben Richards, who gets caught up in a dark scandal within a totalitarian state. The end result is that Arnold has to go on a life-or-death game show designed to get rid of him for good. This movie was and still is fantastic. Richard Dawson as an evil host? Beyond terrific! Work with me here ... I still love everything about this movie. I know that a real film critic would pick this apart, but this move is flat-out fun. Watching Schwarzenegger do battle against theme-inspired gladiators like Subzero, Buzzsaw, Dynamo, and Jesse Ventura’s Captain Freedom is nothing short of tremendous. Sure, it has the standard “Arnold one-liners”, but those are part of the charm of the movie.
- The Shining: Released in 1980, this just makes the cut and is widely considered to be one of the best — if not the best — King adaptation. This was fascinating to me as a kid (and you can probably questions my parents renting it for me ... remember video stores?). While there are differences in the book and film, Jack Nicholson is great and it was really creepy/frightening to me at that age. From a modern perspective, what could be more 2020 than a flick about being isolated with your family for months with nowhere to go.
- Silver Bullet: Based on Stephen King’s graphic novel “Cycle of the Werewolf”, this Corey Haim and Gary Busey-led film was 100% Cheez Whiz, but had good entertainment value at least as it relates to a kid (which I was at the time!). I actually just watched this a few months back when I was scrolling through channels and it was on for some reason. Busey as a drunkard, womanizing uncle was extremely on-point. I’d expect most people think that the movie was terrible, but as a kid, it had everything from werewolves to a superfast wheelchair to an angry mob taking action to prime Busey.
Anyway, there are a few more that I was a fan of including Creepshow, but those four above hit home most to me as a kid. Explains a lot, right?
I will say the more modern day adaptations like The Shawshank Redemption, It - Parts 1 and 2, and Doctor Sleep have kept me entertained as well. I guess saying Shawshank is modern day (1994) seems odd, but I feel like cinema changed a bit once the 90s hit.
The Boys: Season 2
I recently finished up season two of Amazon’s Prime’s The Boys and, man, was that a wild ride. For those of you unaware on the premise of The Boys, it basically boils down to a dark look at how superheroes really are as compared to their public perceptions. Omnipotent and unchallenged, all good deeds get recognized and all bad deeds get covered up. A small group of “normal” people, however, makes a challenge to that authority and entertainment ensues.
There are a lot of good and fun acting jobs, but the clear two stars of the show (despite how anyone else is billed) are Karl Urban as the extremely foul-mouthed Billy Butcher and Antony Starr as the deeply-narcissistic Homelander. Butcher is an angry, scorned government operative with personal reasons for hating “supes” so much, while Homelander is the head superhero, who is publicly-loved (for the most part), but who is also deeply troubled and power hungry.
Otherwise, Dominque McElligott is fantastic as conflicted superhero Queen Maeve, while Laz Alonso (Mother’s Milk) and Tomer Kapon (Frenchie) are a great duo as vigilantes. Kapon has a strong resemblance to Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard if we want to tie this back to soccer. Anyway, Jack Quaid’s Hughie Campbell is sort of the impetus for how the show kicks off and is probably widely considered the show’s key character. Quaid is the son of actor Dennis Quaid and actress Meg Ryan.
And here’s a tease for season one, Elisabeth Shue (KARATE KID!) plays a prominent role. That should be enough incentive to give it a try right there!
Regardless, I honestly don’t even know how to best categorize this show. It’s sort of a mix of dark comedy, action, and drama ... but the bottom-line is that it keeps you wanting more, which is about all you can ask. It’s crude, vulgar, and extremely violent, but somehow also a lot of fun (yup - I probably have issues) and captures your attention as a viewer.
In a lot of ways, the show captures a lot of real-life, modern-day, current events and translates them into this world where superheroes exist. The writing is creative and funny, but also has a dark undertone and criticism of modern society.
There are plans for a season three, which promises to be just as chaotic, hectic, and entertaining as the first two seasons. If you need a current show to dive into, give it a run.
Don’t look now, but Julian Nagelsmann is doing it again. RB Leipzig’s brilliant 33-year-old manager continues to find a way to to get the most out of his players. While we are only entering match day five in the Bundesliga, Nagelsmann has his charges sitting pretty in first place with three wins and one draw.
Because of how the roster is structured, Nagelsmann has been able to keep his squad ahead of the curve despite losing the potent duo of Timo Werner (Chelsea) and Patrik Schick (Bayer Leverkusen) in the offseason. Die Roten Bullen is deep and talented and also has a dynamic style of play that can cause just about any team problems.
Is RB Leipzig ready to make a run at knocking Bayern Munich from its throne? Probably not, but this squad is definitely one to keep an eye on. Offensively, they take a lot of chances and push-up in an effort to keep constant pressure on the opposition. Of course, that makes them susceptible at times defensively, but against teams not named Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund, the strategy can work wonders in the Bundesliga.
After dominating Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich will square off with a game squad from Eintracht Frankfurt. This will likely not be easy for Bayern Munich, but for some reason, I can’t see it being all that hard either. Hansi Flick is once again pushing all the right buttons and seems to have an expert feel on how to best manage this roster. It’s virtually impossible to guess at how Flick will align his troops, but it probably does not matter. That is not disrespect being directed at Die Adler, but just a recognition of how well Bayern Munich is playing at the moment. Sure, there is always the possibility of a letdown, but the Bavarians are extremely deep and even more talented.
For its part, Eintracht Frankfurt is a tough out. At the time of this post, Die Adler is sitting in fourth place and has really played well thus far. Bayern Munich, however, is on a different level. The Bavarians have won 22 of their last 24 Bundesliga games, but have an even better recent home record against Eintracht Frankfurt. At the Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich owns 11 consecutive Bundesliga wins over Die Adler.
History aside, Hansi Flick’s boys are just going to be too much for Eintracht Frankfurt to handle this week. At some point, there will probably be another Hoffenheim-esque game in the mix where the squad is tired and/or looking ahead...but it won’t be this week.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Here are the rest of the Bundesliga predictions:
- VfB Stuttgart 2-1 FC Köln
- Mainz 05 1-3 Borussia Mönchengladbach
- RB Leipzig 3-2 Hertha Berlin
- Union Berlin 2-2 SC Freiburg
- Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Schalke 04
- Wolfsburg 3-1 Arminia Bielefeld
- Werder Bremen 1-2 Hoffenheim
- Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 FC Augsburg
Now, on to our guest prognosticator:
Samrin Hasib: Frankfurt has a bit of everything — they can play in style (watch their win against Hertha Berlin, 1-3) and they can fight in scrappy games (watch their draw against Köln, 1-1). Perhaps the best combination of all their skills was on display against Hoffenheim (2-1 victory). They have the dangerous Andre Silva up front; however, do not underestimate Bas Dost who can create chances for other players and can hold up play quite well. The back-line has the experience of David Abraham (not the most pleasant), Makoto Hasebe and Martin Hinteregger. The midfield has the wily Sebastian Rode who has both strength and vision. Frankfurt is yet to lose a game and this game will be challenging for Bayern on all fronts. However, on the back of a strong performance, I am going to say Bayern will edge this one, although, I would not be surprised if this were to end in a draw.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Can the overall record get over .500 this week???
Last match day record (Champions League): 1-0
Last Bundesliga match day record: 5-4
Overall record: 17-20*
Guest predictors of Bayern Munich games: 9-0 (?!)*
(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League)