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Midweek warm-up: Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer is still the standard; The Walking Dead needs a good finish; More Traveling Wilburys; and MORE!

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With a Champions League match against Lokomotiv Moscow coming up, let’s appreciate how great Manuel Neuer has been for Bayern Munich.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Atletico Madrid: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

From April 2017 through May 2018, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer missed a grand total of 54 games and an astounding 359 days of field time in battling foot injuries. At just 31-years-old at the time, there was much doubt on whether or not Neuer would ever be able to recover effectively to re-gain his world class form. Justifiably, even Bayern Munich’s board had to have doubts on Neuer’s future with the club.

As far as Bayern Munich’s squad planning goes, there was at least enough concern for the club to begin flirtations with now-backup keeper Alexander Nübel in April of 2019. Now, however, Neuer does not look like he is ready to cede his position any time soon and even extended his contract through June 2023 back in May.

FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session
Manuel Neuer has been nothing short of superb in re-establishing his career.
Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images for FC Bayern

With some non-standard Neuer performances upon his return from his foot issues, a common narrative became the Germany international had “lost it.” Neuer, though, was far from being done.

It was at this point, however, where Neuer made this biggest save of his life: his own career. The now 34-year-old star has firmly re-established himself as atop the world goalkeeper rankings based on his brilliance in the 2019/2020 season and his work so far in this campaign. With all of the stars on the roster and influx of new players, it is easy to overlook or — gasp! — underappreciate Neuer, but he has been an absolute rock for the Bavarians.

Sure, he doesn’t need to be told just how good he is — and has been — but Hansi Flick’s ability to count on Neuer to provide stability and leadership is definitely one factor of this recent Bayern Munich run of success that should not be taken for granted.

Even if he does have a little grass envy.


Walking wounded

When The Walking Dead first hit the airwaves, it was intriguing, fun, and thrilling in being able to watch the human story of how people might band together and survive the collapse of the world.

With some great characters and actors over the course of the show including Andrew Lincoln (as Rick Grimes), Norman Reedus (as Daryl Dixon), Danai Gurira (as Michonne), Melissa McBride (as Carol Peletier), Lauren Cohan (as Maggie Green), Josh McDermitt (as Eugene Porter), Lennie James (as Morgan Jones), Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh), Steven Yeun (as Glenn Rhee), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (as Negan), and Michael Cudlitz (as Abraham Ford) to name a few, the acting has always been very good, but the writing and show’s direction have ventured from aimless to pointless at times.

Behind the Scenes Of The Walking Dead, Smithsonian Associates
Andrew Lincoln was a perfect fit as Rick Grimes and helped make the show immensely popular, but The Walking Dead needs to wrap things up before it loses all its viewers.
Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for AMC

Simply put, there were just way too many throw away segments and episodes that wasted the viewers’ time (honestly, I still like the show despite all that, but it has been waaaaaay too drawn out and I almost “hate watch” now). If the show’s writers could have figured out a way to wrap this up in six or seven seasons instead of 11, I think a lot of people would have stuck around and would still appreciate it. Granted, I’m sure AMC was pushing for more and more because despite the show’s decreasing level of interest from fans, the ratings were still decent. The show was an absolute phenomenon early in the run, so I get the money making aspect of it.

Now, though, most people are just happy to see announcement that the proverbial knife will go through the eyeball of the zombie-driven show.

Personally, when I think about the loss of law and order in society, my first thoughts always go back to William Golding’s classic novel Lord of the Flies. Aside of being one of my favorite books, Golding’s take on how a group evolves and tries to survive without any type of law and order to govern themselves always fascinated me — especially with how quickly “survival of the fittest” becomes an overwhelming theme for different segments within that new society. At the beginning of the series, The Walking Dead absolutely captured some of that element.

Now, though, aside of a few older, long-term characters, the show devolved into a glorified Tom and Jerry cartoon: Tom plots to catch Jerry, Jerry always finds a way out of the trap. Because of that, I was actually happy to see the show announce it would be ending and that there would at least be closure to this story.

The off-shoots (Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond) had interesting concepts initially, but ultimately suffer from trying to recreate a wheel that has long been broken. Fear the Walking Dead showed the complete downfall of when society fell (The Walking Dead time-lapsed through that), while the newly-minted The Walking Dead: World Beyond is capturing how kids survive through the zombie apocalypse. Still, “Fear” is stale and unimaginative and “World Beyond” is just surviving based on old tropes that we’ve seen a million times over now.

About the only positive is that it looks like all three shows will have some sort of intersection with closure for how the world moves on or dies off. At the end of the day, I can at least justify that I spent time watching this in knowing that it will be wrapped up. Hopefully the writers can rally and give it a proper ending, so that viewers can walk away satisfied instead of bitter about having wasted so much time.

The final season of the flagship show will run 24 episodes, stretch out over two years, and is expected to debut in late 2021. Even then, AMC still is potentially planning to release a “Daryl and Carol rampaging through the land” spinoff, a series based on individual episodes or arcs featuring new or existing characters titled Tales of the Walking Dead, and maybe even a trilogy of films built around centered on Lincoln’s Rick Grimes.

Apparently money talks (another quality AC/DC tune)...even to the dead.


Time Traveling Wilburys

In his latest post for the podcast, Jake had “End of the Line” by the Traveling Wilburys referenced and it immediately struck a nerve with me — in a good way. For the longest time, I honestly did not know many people who appreciated the star collaboration of Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison (mostly because at the time I was listening heavily to this, there was no social media or even internet!).

I still have the album in rotation on my playlist, but hearing a youngster (Ha! Old guy writing this!) like Jake reference it brought me back to getting the cassette (probably 7th grade for me) and subsequently getting the CD.

Petty, of course, is my all-time favorite artist (YEAH! DAD ROCK!), but the work that the supergroup did on its “Volume 1” album is brilliance from start to finish. If you enjoy classic rock and have yet to invest yourself into this work, give that album a listen. You won’t be disappointed. The music is great, the lyrics are great...it’s just a must-have classic.


Predictions

Lokomotiv Moscow has the homefield advantage, but that is about the only thing the Russian club will have going for it in this game. Bayern Munich is back in “machine mode” and should blow through like a “hefty” USA player blasting through his Russian competition in Nintendo hockey (legendary game):

Anyway, the only uncertainty with the Bayern Munich vs. Lokomotiv Moscow fixture is exactly how much Hansi Flick will rotate. If Flick opts to rotate heavily, it could take a bit for his boys to get in sync, but whatever happens, the Bavarians will still be the deeper, more talented side.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 5-0 Lokomotiv Moscow

Now on to our guest prognosticator:

Fergus25: Lokomotiv Moscow should prove no match to a Bayern team which is on a historic 12-game Champions League win streak. While the Bavarians are playing away in Moscow, the team simply has too much quality for anything less than a win, and knowing this current side, it will likely be a thumping one. Even the strongest defensive outfits have succumbed to Bayern’s irresistible high octane football and the bullet train that is Bayern. Powered by a workhorse-like lineup, Bayern should beat the Russian team’s steam Lokomotiv. Furthermore, coach Flick will likely call on one of his best possible teams making chances of an upset even more unlikely.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 4-0 Lokomotiv Moscow


Prediction Records

Well, well, well...a good week gets the overall record up over .500 and our guest predictors remain undefeated. After a rough start, things are looking up (cue dramatic fall from **grace**):

Last match day record (Bundesliga): 7-2

Overall record: 24-22*

Guest predictors of Bayern Munich games: 10-0 (?!)*

(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League)