Optimism reigns supreme at the start of this new Bundesliga season and rightly so. The league is the home to the treble-winning, red juggernaut Bayern Munich and also to some of the world’s best young talent.
An exodus of talent
Unfortunately, however, an exodus of sorts is also looming over the league. In the past two seasons, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Timo Werner, and Kai Havertz — an insanely talented foursome — have left Germany on a transfer (Pulisic, Werner, Havertz) or loan (McKennie).
Obviously, the league is strong enough to weather that storm, but has caused some to worry a bit about the overall quality of the league. Thiago Alcantara’s departure for Liverpool does not help either, but at 29, Thiago is no longer in the formative years of his career.
The losses of Pulisic and Thiago can be equated to the players wanted to do challenge themselves on the bright lights of the English stage, while McKennie, who left for Juventus, likely just needed to get as a far away from Schalke 04 as possible as the club is trying to sort out its strategic vision (if any) for the future.
For many, the losses of Havertz and Werner to Chelsea stung more because both players look to be key components to Germany’s World Cup hopes in 2022 and 2026. The counter-argument, of course, is that if Bayern Munich had the need at this time for either player, the Bavarians would have brought them both in. For those hoping to see that, the convincing performances of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller, along with Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic’s long-running (and eventually successful) pursuit of Leroy Sané left the Bavarians with no need for the German duo and not much of a transfer budget to work with.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though, on the talent exchange, though. The emergence of Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland as transfers into the league show that there might not be a better platform to grow as a player. Make no mistake, these two players have the potential to be the world’s best at their respective positions within the next two-to-three years.
Borussia Dortmund, itself, is doing a fantastic job of being a landing spot for prodigious talent. In addition to Haaland, Jadon Sancho has opted (for now at least) to stay with the club, while Gio Reyna (United States) and Jude Bellingham (England) also are highly-regarded.
Meanwhile, RB Leipzig, Borussia Monchengladbach, Werder Bremen, and VfL Wolfsburg are all making strong cases as great clubs for young players to develop. So, yeah, the loss of Havertz, Werner, and others definitely hurts, but the quality of the league is still continuing to improve.
And, oh yeah, the home to the current Champions League winners. The Bundesliga might have lost some talent, but it still offers a lot of quality football — and footballers — to keep an eye on from week-to-week.
For those of you not quite familiar with American football, start here ... with this headline:
Always newsworthy ... pic.twitter.com/2qiZxhOEF5— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) September 17, 2020
#ArpTrain in need of a little luck
If there is one player at Bayern Munich who could use a little good luck headed his way, it’s Fiete Arp. After a disastrous inaugural season in Bavaria, which saw him miss 22 games and 100 days overall while battling a strong illness, a hand injury, an arm injury, and muscular problems, the promising striker saw himself drop from potential back-up to Lewandowski to Bayern Munich’s reserve team.
Arp has indisputable talent (ask Marcelo!) and was able to show his versatility in flexing (non-Christian Falk style) out to wing under Niko Kovac during last summer’s preseason. Still, in the cruel game that is soccer, Arp is going to have to prove his mettle — and durability — on the pitch this season. If he can’t do those things, we can probably make the derailment of the #ArpTrain an official-type thing with all of you poised and ready to tweet train derailment .GIFs at me at will.
Anyway, Arp’s status as a starter for Bayern Munich II in 3.Liga should afford him the opportunity to remind the Bayern Munich board why it invested in him in the first place. As they say, the ball is now firmly in Arp’s court. What he does with it will likely determine whether he has a future in Bavaria or not.
So...with that...ALLLLLLLLLL ABBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAARRRRRDDDD!
Strike first, strike hard, no avoiding Cobra Kai
Like any bored middle-aged dad, I have been trying to pass the time before I go to bed by checking out the latest and greatest shows available on streaming platforms and let me tell you boss, Cobra Kai is a must-see for any child of the 80s. The William Zabka-Ralph Macchio continuation of the original movie hits all the right notes.
Truthfully, I totally could have ended up like Zabka’s character Johnny Lawrence as he struggle to find to his purpose in adulthood. Waking up every morning in an alcohol-induced haze is absolutely where I’d be if I didn’t have pesky responsibilities like a wife and kids!
Truthfully, one of the major reasons I was bummed about Kai Havertz moving to Chelsea was because of the sheer amount of “Cobra Kai” tweets and references I would have made even before watching this show!
Anyway, for those of you who lived through the (GLORIOUS) 80s, this will hit home in a good way. For those of you just looking to kill time, hit the original Karate Kid first (don’t worry about the sequels), and then follow it up with Cobra Kai. It’s got just the right amount of character conflict, intrigue, comedy, and “cheese” to really make it a worthwhile watch.
Bayern Munich vs. Schalke 04: A Prediction
The Bayern Munich vs. Schalke contest today kicks off the Bundesliga season and marks match between two clubs headed with contrasting outlooks. The Bavarians are coming off of a treble-winning 2019-2020 season (Have you already forgotten? If not, I’ll happily remind you a few more times if you need to hear that repeated.), while Schalke is currently trying to find itself.
Bayern Munich should be considered the heavy favorite here, but Schalke could offer a bit of a challenge if it decides to park itself in the box and force Bayern Munich to problem solve. This may be Schalke’s only shot to pull off the upset, but I would not expect David Wagner’s bunch to be able to stifle the extremely potent Bavarian offense enough to stun the Bavarians.
Even with the news that Thiago is departing and that Javi Martinez is also probably bolting, this Bayern Munich side under Hansi Flick has run like a finely-tuned machine. I don’t expect Flick to let the team rest on its laurels and would also expect a convincing effort against Die Königsblauen even if it his has a fleet of Greyhounds guarding Ralf Fährmann.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3, Schalke 0
If you want a rundown on predictions for the other games, here you go:
- Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 Arminia Bielefeld
- FC Köln 2-2 Hoffenheim
- VfB Stuttgart 2-2 SC Freiburg
- Union Berlin 3-2 FC Augsburg
- Werder Bremen 2-3 Hertha Berlin
- Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Mönchengladbach
- RB Leipzig 3-1 Mainz 05
- Wolfsburg 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen