For all of the talk about Bayern Munich’s newfound depth, the Bavarians’ arduous schedule is currently winning the battle of attrition.
In the last week, Alphonso Davies (ankle), Thomas Muller (muscular issues), Leon Goretzka (calf), and — in some late breaking news — Joshua Kimmich all went down with injuries or ailments. Davies, of course, suffered the most significant injury of the lot, but the compact schedule could play a major role in affecting the normal recovery schedule and how the players train in between matches.
While not necessarily on account of the grinding schedule, Leroy Sane, Tanguy Nianzou, and Chris Richards have also already been banged up, while youngster Armindo Sieb suffered an unfortunate injury in his lone cameo with the first team.
While most of the weight on managing this craziness falls on the shoulders of Hansi Flick, the club’s trainers and doctors will also play a key role in helping the players avoid injuries, stay healthy, and not get worn down by the daunting slate of fixtures.
And that is my biggest concern. Injuries undoubtedly will happen — there is simply no avoiding them — but how Flick juggles player rotation, the training schedule, rest days, recovery periods, etc. will play a vital role in helping Bayern Munich avoid “heavy legs.” Against Lokomotiv Moscow, it looked like the Bavarians were suffering from just that.
And sure, other clubs are facing the same issue, but Bayern Munich’s long, treble-winning run in the 2019/2020 season makes this a little more worrisome and problematic. As much as some players hate coming off the pitch (**cough** Kimmich **cough**), Flick will have to find a way to convince his charges that they need rest and that they need to trust him to manage it accordingly.
To try and get ahead of this problem, Flick held Kimmich and Goretzka out of practice on Thursday, but it looks like that was not even enough to get Kimmich healthy enough to play:
Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka didn't train with the team today, however both are fit and were just given a rest [Bild] pic.twitter.com/Dgw8jAmiwA— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) October 29, 2020
Clearly, the wear-and-tear of this season already has Flick’s full attention.
Anyway, it seems like Flick has earned enough respect and built enough good relationships with his players to make it work, but this year — unlike any other — will test just how well the players trust their manager.
Stay down for the count
As much as I am a fan of certain re-boots or continuations of some shows, I watched Peacock’s trailer for the latest “continuation” of a previous show and came away not really wanting more.
In fact, it kind of made me not want to watch the latest “Saved by the Bell” iteration at all.
Granted, this looks like it is made for current teens and maybe doesn’t find into that weird middle-ground that Cobra Kai somehow dominates by bringing in both the young (teens) and old (nostalgic old heads...like me!).
It...just doesn’t look good.
Unless someone can convince me otherwise, I think this will be a hard pass.
Bayern vs. Salzburg prep
It might not seem like a primetime match-up on paper, but it should be a fascinating game for folks who love watching emerging youngsters. Aside of American coaching talent Jesse Marsch, Salzburg has some excellent prospects in Dominik Szoboszlai, Patson Daka, Sekou Koita, Luka Sucic, and Maximilian Wöber. Daka, however, is battling a hamstring injury and is currently questionable for the match.
Regardless, most Bayern Munich fans will be fixated on Szoboszlai, a midfielder/winger with a flair for the dramatic. Linked to the young Hungarian multiple times, Bayern Munich no longer has the roster capacity for a player with his skill-set, but overloading a position has never been a fear for Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidžić.
It is at least something to keep an eye on.
Not going there
The dynamic of working from home sometimes has its challenges. My home office is attached to our family room, where last week my 10-year-old and my wife were engaging in some back-and-forth about normal mother-daughter things...something like leaving shoes laying around or some other thing kids do carelessly.
At the moment the arguing was subsiding, I decided to go out and exert my Dad Authority to ensure peace would once again reign. Well, on my way out of my office door, my 10-year-old was walking away with her back toward me and mumbled the following: “Before they were called Karens, they were probably called Julies.”
Julie, of course, is my wife’s name.
Thankfully, my wife was safely of “mumbling range,” but I was not about to engage in any Dad-esque, “Excuse me?” action to escalate that nuclear bomb of a comment. I simply pulled the old Abe Simpson GIF and went back into my office like I never heard it.
Give me all the power you can muster to deal with her teenage years...
Prediction: Bayern at Köln
This Bundesliga game likely comes down more to Bayern Munich vs. fatigue than Die Roten vs. Die Geißböcke. With a few key players banged up, Flick is no doubt constantly weighing how much to lean on stars like Robert Lewandowski and Joshua Kimmich. Surely, Flick already knows that he has to carefully manage his delicate wingers through this scheduling marathon, but he also has to balance how best to keep his back-line both healthy and happy.
When juggling sooooooo many changes from game-to-game there is always inherent risk for how quickly players will sync up on the pitch. We’re expecting that even against a struggling FC Köln side, Bayern Munich might take a bit to shake off those aforementioned heavy legs and get on the same page as a unit on the pitch.
It might not be pretty, but the Bavarians will get the job done once again.
Prediction: FC Köln 0-3 Bayern Munich
Here are the rest of the Bundesliga predictions:
- Schalke 04 2-1 VfB Stuttgart
- Arminia Bielefeld 1-4 Borussia Dortmund
- FC Augsburg 2-2 Mainz 05
- Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2 Werder Bremen
- Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-2 RB Leipzig
- SC Freiburg 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
- Hertha Berlin 3-2 Wolfsburg
- Hoffenheim 2-1 Union Berlin
Things are still trending upwards, but this week could prove to be a make-or-break type for me. I had zero read on the picks above to be honest. The timing of some of the Bundesliga match-ups hits weird and made some of them difficult to pick (at least to me!).
Last match day record (Champions League): 1-0
Last Bundesliga match day record: 7-2
Overall record: 25-22*
Guest predictors of Bayern Munich games: 11-0 (?!)*
(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League)