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Weekend warm-up: Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski deserves the Ballon d’Or; Germany’s troubles need to end; A stunning admission; and MORE!

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Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski deserves the Ballon d’Or and all the accolades that come with it.

Poland v Finland - International Friendly Photo by ADAM NURKIEWICZ/Getty Images

After his 2019/2020 season, it would be hard to argue that Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is not the best football player on the planet. Sure, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo still exist, but as it stands today, the Polish Hitman is simply better and more productive than those two players at this stage of all of their respective careers.

Through immense amounts of self-confidence and a relentless work ethic, Lewandowski has established himself as a complete player. His phenomenal goal-scoring ability aside, the 32-year-old has improved every aspect of his game and is just as willing to track back and defend as he is to fire off a shot on net.

FC Bayern München v Hertha BSC - Bundesliga
Robert Lewandowski has evolved into a nearly unstoppable force during his tenure with Bayern Munich.
Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images

Lewandowski’s scoring, relentless effort, and peak conditioning, however, don’t fully define the Poland international as a player. His willingness to distribute and facilitate while drawing so much attention, has made him a nearly unstoppable force for the Bavarians.

None of this is news to Bayern Munich fans, but for those who are just starting to pay attention to Lewandowski, it is time to acknowledge just how good he has been. He should absolutely have been awarded the Ballon d’Or for his 55 goals and 10 assists that were spread across 46 games in all competitions last season regardless of whether there was a pandemic or not. His excellence for last season should be recognized.

Let’s not forget, however, the growth and evolution of Lewandowski as a player...and a teammate. It was just 2018, when Lewandowski endured a months-long flirtation with Real Madrid that left the relationship between the player and some Bayern Munich fans a bit torn. Heck, read the comments in this post for a refresher and you’ll see exactly how Lewandowski was viewed in the months after that Madrid courtship and some disappointing on-field antics.

But we should try to understand Lewandowski’s mentality at the time: He always knew he was great...he just wanted everyone else to know it, too. Lewandowski has moved past the critiques that he was a Champions League bottler or even selfish. Now he’s just one hell of a player.

Lewandowski’s self-belief and sometimes disgruntled demeanor has evolved, though, and it started long before Bayern Munich defeated Paris Saint-Germain for a Champions League crown. That sometimes cocky and “prove you wrong” attitude is what became the underlying force behind the club’s treble-winning run.

Bayern Munich, as a team, knew it was great...they just wanted everyone else to know it, too, and they were going to show everyone who got in their way why they deserved more respect.

With that feeling, and a little coaching genius from Hansi Flick, Lewandowski and his Bayern Munich teammates did just that. Lewandowski’s contribution on the field and to the overall squad mentality should be acknowledged and lauded. It took a while for him — and Bayern Munich as a whole — to get there...but once they did, it was further proof of just how Lewandowski has evolved into a better and more complete player — and teammate — during his tenure in Bavaria.


RIP EVH

RIP to Eddie Van Halen, one of the all-time great guitarists. Van Halen’s 1984 was the first cassette tape I ever owned. Yup, not a download and not a CD...a cassette tape.

1984 had such a cool album cover and really never left my mental playlist. I even convinced my wife to walk out to “Hot for Teacher” at our wedding reception (she’s a teacher...see how clever I am?). So RIP Eddie, you were terrific at your craft.

And if you are wondering, I was always a David Lee Roth guy over Sammy Hagar.


It has to be better

As Bayern Munich gains momentum, Germany is just looking to keep its head above water. With games against Ukraine and Switzerland coming up, Joachim Löw is going to have to find some sort of spark within his team that has seemed to be missing for years now.

On paper, Germany should bounce both Ukraine and Switzerland just based on talent alone. The Swiss would be considered a tougher opponent, but still one that Die Mannschaft should be able to put down. And even though these games essentially mean nothing, it just gives the Löw detractors (est. 2018), another reason to think the man has lost his touch.

Here is to hoping he can get the most from this roster, which has under-performed as much as the coach has. It is time for Leroy Sane, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Niklas Sule, and Leon Goretzka (among others) to take ownership of the team from veterans like Toni Kroos and Marco Reus. That was Löw’s plan all along, but now both the manager and the players need to be better.


A stunning personal admission

I have been an Alt-Rock guy my entire life. At 44, I came up at a good time to get an appreciation for the genre. While I can admit that the three artists/bands I think are the best of all-time are Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty (with and without the Heartbreakers), and The Rolling Stones, I have always slanted toward Alt-Rock as my favorite genre because of the scope it covers (you can squeeze everything from some 80s pop and Nu-Wave through today’s modern rock into the category). I definitely have admiration for all 80s music, Metal, Classic Rock, and other genres as well, but Alt-Rock is where I always fall back to.

And now I have to make an admission...I really like the new song from Machine Gun Kelly, “Bloody Valentine.” And you know what? I purchased it from iTunes...but if anyone asks why I have it on my phone, I will readily blame it on my daughters and move on quickly.

I know nothing...literally zero...about Machine Gun Kelly aside of “Pop Punk” is not necessarily in his wheelhouse. I mean, I guess I had heard his songs through osmosis before, but never really knew who he was or anything.

Truthfully, when I first heard the name Machine Gun Kelly, I thought back to the house band for the “Big Bad Wolf” bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where I spent some time in 2002. I was temporarily confused and was thinking to myself: “Wait, those guys finally made?”, but alas this was most assuredly a different Machine Gun Kelly.

Anyway, the song reminds me of some early Blink-182 (Dude Ranch is a classic!), which makes sense now that I know that Kelly partnered with Travis Barker on this project. So there you have it; here is your “Old guy digs pop punk!” headline for the weekend.


Predictions

Like Howard Jones once sang, “Things can only getter better,” and that was a nice theme for the last round of predictions I made in the Bundesliga. A solid 6-3 record for the weekend, got me back on track — just in time for the international break to stifle my momentum! THANKS UEFA!

Anyway, it should also be noted that John Dillon, Samrin, and Evan Vanderpool all this their prediction of Bayern Munich winning the game. Jake Fenner and Tom Adams previously predicted the DFL-Supercup correctly as well. So, yeah, they are ALL probably smarter than me.

Last week’s record: 6-3

Overall record: 11-17

Guest predictors of Bayern Munich games: 5-0 (?!)

With no Bayern Munich games this weekend, I’ll hold off on the predictions game until they are back in action, but I will give you a thoughtful wager to consider: The guy writing this post: Over/Under 10.5 beers for the weekend.

I can’t give you any inside info, but the over seems like a safe play.