Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer has seen his share of great players over the course of his career. Widely considered the best goalkeeper in the world — and a generational talent — Neuer has faced off with the best of the best for both club and country.
Through all of that experience, Neuer knows he has a unique challenge in facing Borussia Dortmund phenom Erling Haaland tomorrow in Der Klassiker. In an interview with Bundesliga.com, Neuer talked about what he sees as the difference between Haaland and the world’s best player, Robert Lewandowski — two players who have an intriguingly similar skillset and an equally good instinct for goal.
“Lewy definitely has the experience and he has great timing and is very strong in the box,” Neuer said. “Haaland is a player that often drops deep and he plays more in straight lines because of his pace. Lewy is more two-footed than Haaland, who uses his left foot a lot. I hope he won’t surprise me with his right foot!”
While Neuer joked a bit about Haaland’s dangerous left-foot, the veteran goalkeeper is keenly aware that Haaland is quickly becoming one of the most efficient scorers on the planet.
Haaland, though, is not even close to being Borussia Dortmund’s only weapon, which makes this match-up with BVB even more tantalizing from the viewer standpoint. Still, Neuer is confident in himself and the players in front of him. The 34-year-old knows that he is in some of the best form of his career and that he has a tremendous set of players in front of him. Even with that, Neuer is not one to sit back and relish in the praises being heaped on himself or the team.
That laser-focus could be a bad sign for Borussia Dortmund.
“It’s difficult to enjoy this kind of thing at the moment because we just have to keep going,” Neuer said. “We couldn’t really enjoy much of our recent successes because we hardly had any time to breathe. We had to put these successes straight to the back of our minds and prepare ourselves for the next objectives, which is the rhythm we currently find ourselves in. We always play at the weekend and then again in midweek and then also with the national team, so it’s difficult to take in any praise at the moment.”
Throwback binge: Appreciating Band of Brothers
There is almost nothing that the BFW staff agrees upon universally. There is always at least one person with a contrarian take in our crowd, but I think we might have found the one unifying stance: Band of Brothers is an absolute classic.
Widely considered among the finest mini-series ever made, Band of Brothers is the Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg-driven masterpiece that made its debut on HBO way back in 2001.
Band of Brothers is based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 non-fiction book, but it is brought to life so wonderfully on the screen in just 10 episodes that you’ll never get into one of those “book vs. screen” arguments.
Courtesy of Wikipedia, here is the quick and dirty summary:
The series dramatizes the history of “Easy” Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, from jump training in the United States through its participation in major actions in Europe, up until Japan’s capitulation and the end of World War II. The events are based on Ambrose’s research and recorded interviews with Easy Company veterans. The series took some literary license, adapting history for dramatic effect and series structure. The characters portrayed are based on members of Easy Company. Some of the men were recorded in contemporary interviews, which viewers see as preludes to several episodes, with the men’s real identities revealed in the finale.
The primary stars of the series were Damien Lewis (Major Richard “Dick” Winters) and Ron Livingston (Captain Lewis Nixon), but it has a cast of actors who played their individual roles superbly including but not limited to):
- Scott Grimes as Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey
- Donnie Wahlberg as Second Lieutenant Carwood Lipton
- Kirk Acevedo as Staff Sergeant Joe Toye
- Michael Cudlitz as Staff Sergeant Denver “Bull” Randleman
- Dale Dye as Colonel Robert Sink
- Rick Gomez as Technician Fourth Grade George Luz
- Frank John Hughes as Staff Sergeant William “Wild Bill” Guarnere
- James Madio as Technician Fourth Grade Frank Perconte
- Neal McDonough as First Lieutenant Lynn “Buck” Compton
- Ross McCall as Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Liebgott
- Dexter Fletcher as Staff Sergeant John “Johnny” Martin
- David Schwimmer as Captain Herbert Sobel
- Shane Taylor as Technician Fourth Grade Eugene “Doc” Roe
Following along from the battalion’s early days in training through the fall of Germany during World War II, Band of Brothers is nothing short of the finest drama I’ve ever seen. It’s not just the writing, the acting, or the fact that most of the mini-series is based on historical events (as always with television, there are some liberties taken), but how seamlessly they all meld together to keep you wanting more — even though you already know the outcome.
It’s a fascinating and realistic look at the mettle of the solders during that time and the lives they led. The interspersing of soundbites from the actual soldiers that are woven into each episode just adds to the personal touch and feel of the show.
The byplay and relationships between all the soldiers — particularly the characters played by Lewis and Livingston — truly are the best part of the series. To think that Livingston has played both Office Space lead Peter Gibbons (LEGEND!) and Captain Lewis Nixon shows his broad range to shift seamlessly from comedy to drama with ease. Lewis, of course, is just on another level throughout this miniseries in his portrayal of Winters, which undoubtedly spurred him on for leading roles in both Homeland and Billions.
Anyway, Band of Brothers is great for history, it’s good for education, and it’s just extremely well-done overall. If you have not seen this, you immediately need to push your other binging aside and do it. Seriously...leave them ALL in your cue! I’ve yet to hear anyone say a bad thing about it and it’s eminently re-watchable. Do yourself a favor and get started this weekend (just not during the Bayern Munich game).
Are you ready?
Sometimes I like to use music to get ready for a big game. I think this week, I’ll use the White Zombie classic “Thunder Kiss ‘65” to get revved up for Der Klassiker.
Ah, yes, Der Klassiker...
If you can’t get excited for this match-up, you have no soul. Bayern Munich is riding high and rolling offensively under Hansi Flick, but has shown a propensity for extended, defensive lapses of late. Against Borussia Dortmund that could be fatal.
But...it won’t be.
The Bavarians have more than enough firepower to offset BVB’s star-studded offensive line-up, which could include some combination of Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt, Jude Bellingham, Axel Witsel, and Gio Reyna. Simply put, this game should be a thrill-ride offensively.
Defensively, however, both clubs have not exactly been in “lock down” mode. With Hansi Flick’s heavy rotation potentially causing some communication and positional issues, Bayern Munich’s back-line has not played up to its potential as a unit. You could, in fact, insinuate the same thing about Borussia Dortmund as well, though.
Led by Mats Hummels, the BVB back-line could include some combination of Manuel Akanji, Thomas Meunier, Raphael Guerriero, or Felix Passlack. Given his status in Lucien Favre’s doghouse, we probably won’t see Nico Schulz. Regardless, Bayern Munich should have the advantage at this point in the season, but as Borussia Dortmund’s core group of youngsters continues to grow over the course of this season...the gap should close a bit.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Bayern Munich
The rest of the Bundesliga slate is below:
- Werder Bremen 2-1 FC Köln
- FC Augsburg 2-3 Hertha Berlin
- Mainz 05 1-2 Schalke 04 (seriously...this game?)
- RB Leipzig 3-1 SC Freiburg
- VfB Stuttgart 1-3 Eintracht Frankfurt
- Union Berlin 4-2 Arminia Bielefeld
- Wolfsburg 2-1 Hoffenheim
- Bayer Leverkusen 2-3 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Things are looking good...not great...but good. I feel better about the picks above than I did about last week’s schedule (that probably means they’ll all go up in flame, though).
Last Champions League match day record: 1-0
Last Bundesliga match day record: 5-4
Overall record: 31-26*
Guest predictors of Bayern Munich games: 12-0 (?!)*
(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League)