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Midweek Warm-up: Bayern Munich’s Hansi Flick working magic through rugged schedule; Eastbound & Down remembered; Champions League predictions; and MORE!

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It’s game day! Bayern Munich will close out its Champions League group stage action against Lokomotiv Moscow.

FC Bayern Muenchen - Press Conference And Training Session Photo by Handout/FC Bayern via Getty Images

If there was a football managing equivalent of the Biblical figure Job’s troubling travails, Bayern Munich’s Hani Flick might just be it. Just a season after surprisingly rallying the Bavarians to a treble, Flick has endure many a roster plague.

The 55-year-old, though, has seamlessly made things work despite facing what seems like a new challenge every week, including:

  • An incredibly condensed schedule.
  • Numerous injuries to key players including Joshua Kimmich, Alphonse Davies, and others.
  • A block of deadline transfers coming in at the last second.
  • The sometimes rocky integration of newly-minted star winger Leroy Sane.
  • A public debate on Niklas Sule’s fitness.
  • The ongoing contract battles of key players like David Alaba and Jerome Boateng.

For as much recognition as Flick received for his efforts last season, he arguably deserves more for managing this season’s numerous ordeals. While Flick should absolutely should bask in all of the credit he is getting for working through so many issues, he won’t — it is not his style.

“Success is not a possession, it is only rented,” Flick said. “That means that we don’t have to rest, we have to improve every day. That is our ambition. We want to win (today)’s game and the rest of the three other games this year.”

Certainly, Flick has been a big part of why the team is not completely overwhelmed at this point of the season. The manager’s viewpoint of maintaining focus on the little things and keeping an intense mindset has absolutely been integral to the team’s mentality staying strong.


Young guns, but just how young?

Is this the first day of sixth grade or preparation for the Champions League? Uh...how young do these three look in this shot?


Throwback classic: Eastbound & Down

One of the great — and I mean great — comedies that HBO ever produced was Eastbound & Down. Starring Danny Bride as disturbed, angry, reckless, and completely over-the-top baseball player Kenny Powers; the show is rip-roaringly funny from the first episode to the last.

Over the course of four seasons, McBride worked his comedic magic in a series of outlandish scenarios that was never politically correct, but was always wholly inappropriate. The premise of the story is that Kenny Powers (loosely based on some of the exploits of former Atlanta Braves closer John Rocker) flames out as a Major League Baseball closer and has to go back to his hometown, move in with his brother (John Hawkes), and work a regular job as a gym teacher in hopes of one day re-discovering his fastball and mojo. Powers’ end goal is to return to the big leagues, but so much happens along the way in that desperate journey.

Yes, it was 100% absurd, but it is a freaking riot.

McBride stars from start to finish as the seasons follow his pathway from career exile to false promises to fighting for a comeback to his epiphany about life. The story is always fascinating, but the combination of sharp writing and pushing the limits of appropriateness are sometimes even trumped by McBride’s physical expressions and mannerisms.

McBride was just that perfect for the role — even if his pitching form wasn’t great. That is partly why the show works; Kenny Powers would NEVER have been the kind of player to do things like everyone else.

But it was not just McBride’s overpowering performance that was awesome, his supporting cast was equally hilarious:

  • Steve Little (Steven “Stevie” Janowski)
  • Katy Mixon (April Buchanon)
  • John Hawkes (Dustin Powers)
  • Jennifer Irwin (Cassie Powers)
  • Andy Daly (Terrence Cutler)
  • Ben Best (Clegg)

While Hawkes was terrific (as he is in everything), Mixon, Irwin, Daly, and Best were just as fantastic. It was Little’s character Stevie Janowski, though, that provided some of the show’s best overall moments. Janowski would probably be referred to as a “simp” for Kenny Powers these days, but the dynamic between McBride and Little was both visually and comedically incredible. For me, the Powers-Janowski team up was the overall highlight of the show and was the driving force behind sooooooo many of the show’s classic moments.

While the series was a comedy in nature, it had some very fine elements that would cause some to classify it as dark comedy. In the end, though, it makes you laugh no matter how you define it. While this might read like an infomercial for McBride, it cannot be emphasized enough just how good he was at portraying the Kenny Powers character.

Because of the comedic genius of the show, creative writing, and power-packed producers, Eastbound & Down also had quite a few big-named stars come in for cameos and short appearances including:

  • Adam Scott
  • Will Ferrell
  • Craig Robinson
  • Don Johnson
  • Erick Chavarria
  • Matthew McConaughey
  • Jason Sudeikis
  • Ike Barinholtz
  • Lily Tomlin

In the end, it really was a story of redemption, but not in the way most redemption stories flow. Kenny Powers, with his glorious mullet, was about as awful, immature, and self-centered a human being as you could ever find, but he was only that way because he was molded by the incredible fame and fortune he achieved...which all was thrust upon him before he was anywhere near mentally ready to handle it.

If you have not decided to watch this series and want to give it a go, be prepared to laugh hard....really hard. It’s a comedic classic whether you like baseball or not.


Predictions

After Saturday’s 3-3 draw with RB Leipzig, there was plenty of griping — and rightfully so — about Bayern Munich’s defensive performance. It would be easy to say things are sliding in a downward trend for the defensive group, but perhaps that was just the type of wake-up call needed for a unit heavy in talent, but light on cohesive play.

Whether the defensive group is a mess or not, though, the Bavarians should walk through the visiting Russian side. Back in October, Bayern Munich secured a 2-1 victory in a game that was more competitive than many would have liked, but that was more a product of collective fatigue and dealing with injuries than Bayern Munich being poor.

If we know anything about Hansi Flick, it’s that his team will respond to adversity and answer the bell even more if they feel like they’ve got something to prove. This Bayern Munich game day squad will have to prove it, however, without Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, Corentin Tolisso, and Javi Martinez — at a minimum. Even without those stars, Bayern Munich should have enough firepower to steam past Lokomotiv Moscow.

I’m guessing Bayern Munich will be amped for this seemingly meaningless game and look to put forth an impressive performance.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-0 Lokomotiv Moscow

Now on to our guest prognosticators:

Schnitzel01: Bayern Munich have only pride to play for in this tie, just like their opponents, Lokomotiv. That being said, this game will feature no dearth in quality, with Lokomotiv looking quite strong defensively and not hesitating to hit teams on the break. Bayern will have another opportunity to field several bench and youth players, but I back them to have sufficient quality and produce enough on the pitch to grab a comfortable win this time. I think a routine 3-1 is in the cards.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

Bonus guest prediction

Schnitzel01: The match between Real vs Gladbach is a tough tie for the German side, and a very good test of whether this team has it to battle with the elite in Europe. An away game at Madrid is undesirable for almost any team in the continent (barring Bayern) and Borussia Mönchengladbach will face some problems. That being said, I don’t think a draw or a win is outside the realm of possibility, so I’m gonna go ahead and do something bold and say that Gladbach qualify, so it’s going to be a draw or a win. Since it’s an away game, I fancy a repeat of the reverse fixture, i.e., a 2-2 draw for Gladbach.

Prediction: Real Madrid 2-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach


Predictions Record

I was awful in the Bundesliga last week. Dreadful, pitiful, brutal...they all apply to my 2-7 performance.

The guest prognosticators finally took an “L” unfortunately with the Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig draw. As fun of a game as it was, it cost us our guest predictors...EVERYTHING.

Last Bundesliga match day record: 2-7 (Shameful!)

Last Champions League match day record: 0-1

Overall record: 49-46*

Guest predictors record: 16-2

(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League)