Bayern Munich outlasted FC Köln 2-1 on Saturday for a choppy Bundesliga victory. The game itself was lackluster on many fronts, but such is the world we live in given the insanely busy schedule for the Bavarians. Here are some quick hitters on the match:
- Thomas Muller — after doubts about whether or not he would play — turned in a very good effort that was highlighted by his penalty kick conversion and his overall activity on the day. Without Muller, Bayern Munich’s offense would have been listless yesterday. While Robert Lewandowski might be the world’s best player, Muller might be the most important player to this squad.
- Serge Gnabry’s finish was deft, but the pass from Joshua Kimmich to set him up was sublime. It was a very good showing overall from Gnabry, who created chances and seemingly played a part in all of Bayern Munich’s best offensive moments.
Bayern continuing to fire on all cylinders pic.twitter.com/nrEfh2gM4m— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) October 31, 2020
- Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting offered very little in deputizing for Lewandowski.
- Leroy Sane played a very complacent game and didn’t show any of his trademark explosiveness. Just two days after being a bit criticized by Hansi Flick, Sane did not respond to the challenge.
- Bouna Sarr turned in a “meh” performance while shifting over to left-back. He is fine as a back-up, but I still question the rationale in giving him a four-year deal. With so many young defenders (Chris Richards, Tanguy Nianzou, Bright Arrey-Mbi, and Darmstadt loanee Lars Lukas Mai) in-house, Benjamin Pavard at just 24-years-old, and a crazy deep midfield that could allow Joshua Kimmich to drop back to Sarr’s natural right-back spot in a pinch...I just don’t see the need for him on this roster. Whatever, though, he’s just a depth piece. I just would have rather seen a youngster be afforded an opportunity with that roster spot.
- The back-line, overall, was not great as a quartet. Benjamin Pavard was good moving up the field with his ability to provide offensive support and dangerous crosses, while Niklas Sule and Jerome Boateng each had moments of good — and then some not-so-good play. Despite the overall talent and depth along the back-line, the chemistry will likely continue to be an issue given how heavily the unit is rotated.
- Surprise starter Javi Martinez turned in a very steady shift.
- Joshua Zirkzee got another opportunity to show himself just a day after he also came under scrutiny from Flick. Zirkzee played roughly 30 minutes (including extra time), but did not get overly involved in the action as the game did not seem to flow to him. His movement seemed better, which was a positive, but the youngster is still not asserting himself physically into games. Perhaps it is a perception thing and this is what is bothering some observers. Players like David Alaba, Muller, and Kimmich all look like they are willing to die on the field with the urgency they play with. Zirkzee, as a youngster who has never been challenged like this in life on a pitch, is taking a bit to adapt and seems reluctant to engage at times. This will be something to watch as he continues to mature and gain experience.
- In the end, Bayern Munich walked away from the game with three points in a game where their opponents were content to sit back and wait for the perfect moment to counter-attack. This recipe has worked against the Bavarians in the past, but was ultimately not successful for anything more than a moral victory on Saturday. Those three points were about as much as you can ask for with such a heavily rotated and banged up roster.
One of the many clubs rumored to be interested in hosting Zirkzee on loan was, in fact, FC Köln. The deal, however, ultimately failed...and for once, we now know why. FC Köln sporting director Horst Heldt detailed why things didn’t work out.
“We were in contact. I talked to Hasan (Salihamidzic) and Hansi (Flick) — but it was simply the wrong time,” said Heldt. “That was after the 8-2 win against Barcelona, so I congratulated Hasan — and asked about Joshua. At that moment, the Bavarians didn’t want to lend him to us.”
I can’t read anything from the Birmingham Mail without thinking of Peaky Blinders!
Anyway, it looks like former Bayern Munich forward Mario Mandzukic balked at an offer from Aston Villa:
Mario Mandzukic is said to have “turned down” a move to Aston Villa. The 34-year-old former Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Juventus striker is a free agent after leaving Qatar side Al-Duhail. And journalist Gianluca Di Marzio claims both Villa and one of their Premier League rivals, West Ham United, both attempted to sign him “recently.” Mandzukic has been without a club since July, leaving Al-Duhail after just six months.
I was not opposed to Bayern Munich bringing him back, but the signing of Choupo-Moting effectively killed off any chance of that happening.
Prior to Hamburger SV’s 2-2 draw with St. Pauli in 2. Bundesliga on Friday, former Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich was asked about his move and if he considered HSV to be the “Bayern” of the second division. Ulreich, of course, gave a frank and measured response:
“No, we are not FC Bayern in the 2nd division,” said Ulreich. “We have a lot of good, young players, but they still have to and will develop. Nothing is given to us in this league. I followed HSV last season. After a strong start, in the end it was a snail race for the promotion — with the worse end for HSV. Some of the guys here have to get that out of their heads. Because, of course, it’s in the past. But with every victory, self-confidence and conviction increase.”
Everton’s James Rodriguez was sacked in a collision with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk (also injured!) and has been feeling a bit testy ever since. As one of the jewels of Everton’s roster, it is probably driving James nuts to have to miss more games when we all know he just wants to be back out on the pitch booting balls around with his boys:
As hinted by Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti himself, 29-year old Colombian attacking midfielder/winger James Rodriguez is suffering from the aftermath of a testicle blow, a result of a collision between Virgil Van Dijk and himself. Not meant to be healed by ice, Rodriguez is having his bruise cured through the work of a pressotherapy device called “NormaTec” The Toffees boss made it clear that the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich player is going to miss the upcoming match against Newcastle.
Well, good luck to James. Hopefully Everton can avoid any more of this junk over the course of this season. Ancelotti just needs all of his best players to avoid his own sacking.