For all of the hemming and hawing about Bayern Munich’s performances of late, the squad has still only lost one game since the 2020/2021 season officially started.
Remarkably, Bayern Munich has achieved this run of success without many key players for long stretches of time. Perhaps even more impressive, Bayern Munich is still getting consistent offensive production without two of its top weapons having really hit their respective strides yet in Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry.
Sane’s travails have been well-document as he is battling through a return from an ACL injury, another knock, and integration into a new team. Gnabry’s rollercoaster season, however, has featured far more valleys than peaks so far.
For as good as Gnabry was at times last season (no one will ever forget him destroying Tottenham Hotspur in London), the 25-year-old winger was a bit of a roller coaster with his performances. While he was often more good than bad last season, Gnabry’s uneven play has carried into the 2020/2021 campaign in a bad way.
As it currently stands, Gnabry has four goals and two assists in 18 games across all competitions this season, but has not been nearly as threatening a presence as he was last season. Often disappearing for long stretches of games, Gnabry might be another player bogged down by the collective fatigue accrued from the team’s condensed schedule.
Some are even questioning whether is Gnabry developing into a “boom or bust” player given his up-and-down play. For Bayern Munich fans, that question is one that the player himself can help stiff-arm aside with a few consistently good performances.
By no means should anyone be giving up on Gnabry at this point, but he is absolutely fighting with Sane for the number two spot at wing. Assuredly, this is not a position that either player expected to be in. At this time last year, Gnabry was having praise heaped upon him from just about everyone, while Sane was heralded as a potential game-changing transfer, who would finally solve Bayern’s (alleged) issues at wing if he left Manchester City.
Well, Sane did, indeed, bolt from England and Gnabry went on to play a key role in his team winning a treble. Regardless, both players are probably a bit frustrated with themselves over how this season has played out so far.
It is not too late for Gnabry to turn his cold streak into a torrid stretch, though. Heck, we could see him bounce in a couple tomorrow against Bayer Leverkusen. It is, however, starting to be concerning that he has so many ebbs and flows to his performances.
With the winter break upon us, hopefully Gnabry can use the time to recharge himself and get back to the form he showed during his hot streaks last season. We all know that when is THAT player, he’s among the best there is in the world today.
Now, he just has to show that form more frequently.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is going all-in
Disney is rolling out a lot of new Star Wars-related “stories” in both cinema and streaming, but one that will surely capture the imaginations of any Star Wars fan will be Obi-Wan Kenobi. Per Entertainment Weekly:
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy teased the casting as leading to “the rematch of the century” between the former master and apprentice turned bitter enemies. “Obi-Wan Kenobi begins 10 years after the dramatic events in Revenge of the Sith where he faced his greatest defeat: The downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, turned evil Sith Lord Darth Vader,” Kennedy said. “Our fans will be thrilled that Hayden will be returning in the role of Darth Vader. This will be the re-match of the century.” The project has been described as a six-episode limited series that will begin filming in spring 2021.
Ewan McGregor will reprise his role as the star-crossed Jedi Master who eventually ages to be be portrayed by Alec Guinness in the original trilogy. For many Star Wars fans, McGregor is one of the only saving graces from the “prequels”, which always seem to immediately spark a firestorm of verbal light sabre battles among fans when brought up.
For the older crowd, some consider the prequels a massive disappointment. For some younger fans, it was the Star Wars they grew up with. However you feel, I think it is safe to say that there were at least some redeemable parts from the prequels that could lead to Obi-Wan Kenobi offering a lot of intrigue.
Surely, the one major note from the announcement that will divide some fans was the news that Hayden Christensen would be coming back to man the role of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker.
Christensen was panned by a lot of Star Wars fans — but again, there is also a contingent, who want to see him given a chance at redemption in taking this role.
All of this makes for some fascinating banter that will lead in the debut of the series. Here is my hot take...I don’t think the prequels were really any worse than the sequels to be honest. All six “episodes” had some redeeming value, but often faltered with a bunch of nonsense or terrible storylines. #ORIGINALTRILOGY4LIFE
Anyway, here is the teaser (not a trailer):
Hayden Christensen returns as Darth Vader, joining Ewan McGregor in OBI-WAN KENOBI. The Original Series begins 10 years after the dramatic events of Revenge of the Sith, and is coming to #DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/9WR2npRUkk— Star Wars (@starwars) December 10, 2020
At the beginning of the season, I really would not have guess that a Kai Havertz-less Bayer Leverkusen would be the squad challenging Bayern Munich for the Hinrunde heavyweight championship belt. And while it’s true that Dominik Szoboszlai’s new club could still sneak into the top spot with if there is a draw in the Bayern Munich-Bayer Leverkusen match, there is no mistake that the Bavarians and Die Werkself are the marquee match-up for the weekend.
There are plenty of reasons to think that Bayern Munich is limping across the finish line here and not quite in the best form...but this is still the reigning treble-winning force under the direction of the brilliant Hansi Flick.
Injuries, fatigue, or whatever — Bayern Munich is not going to slink off into the winter break. This is a statement game for the Bavarians and I’d expect them to approach it that way. I expect Bayern Munich to be the aggressors and look to show this courageous Leverkusen side that to “be the man, you gotta beat the man”
Let’s say Bayern Munich wins this one convincingly, even if Florian Wirtz, Moussa Diaby, Patrik Schick, and company make it interesting at times.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Bayern Munich
Now on to our guest prognosticator:
JTobolt: Bayern see some early challenges by Leverkusen, but the expected return of Kimmich should allow Bayern to shore up the defense and provide needed stability in the midfield. The first half will be sloppy and it would not be all too surprising to see Bayern continue their trend of going down early and in this case going down 2-0 before a late goal in the first half makes it a ball game in the 2nd half.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Bayern Munich
Here are the rest of the predictions for the Bundesliga:
- Union Berlin 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
- FC Augsburg 2-3 Eintracht Frankfurt
- Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-2 Hoffenheim
- Mainz 05 1-2 Werder Bremen
- RB Leipzig 2-0 FC Köln
- Schalke 04 2-1 Arminia Bielefeld
- SC Freiburg 2-3 Hertha Berlin
- Wolfsburg 2-1 VfB Stuttgart
It was a pretty...pretty...pretty...good Match Day for me earlier in the week (cue the inevitable crash).
Last Bundesliga match day record: 7-2
Overall record: 61-53*
Guest predictors record: 17-3
(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League)