In the second half of Bayern Munich’s uneven 1-0 victory over FC Augsburg, you could feel the energy drop substantially. More, you could see the fatigue set in.
This is not a knock on the players though. Their collective lethargy is simply a product of a schedule that is clearly wearing down a roster that has battled relentlessly over the past seven months.
The roster should be be tired. Heck, they should be exhausted.
The bad part for the Bavarians, though, is that the roster does not have the depth to shoulder the heavy workload. Bayern Munich, in fact, probably relies too much on players like Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich, and Leon Goretzka. That’s right: Bayern Munich’s strength up-the-middle is also the most taxed part of the squad.
The reason those players are so essential, though, should give Bayern Munich fans some cause for concern. No one can replace Lewandowski, but Hansi Flick does not appear to have found a worthwhile solution even to fill in for him at this point. Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting is the lead candidate to fill that void when Lewandowski needs a rest, but his results have been mixed at best. Joshua Zirkzee has not developed, and Fiete Arp has committed to spending the entire season with Bayern Munich II.
We have seen both Serge Gnabry and Muller step into the #9 role, but neither has been very effective. As for Muller, Corentin Tolisso and Jamal Musiala are the primary substitutes for his role, but Tolisso has struggled to find his form, and the German/English youngster Musiala is juggling a dual-role of learning the finer points of both the back-up attacking midfielder and fourth winger.
The depth situation does not get significantly better for Kimmich or Goretzka. Tolisso, again, is considered the primary back-up to both, but he has not played consistently well when filling in for either player. Meanwhile, Flick does not appear to trust Marc Roca or Javi Martinez for an extended period. Musiala has also been used in a deeper role, but it is clear that Bayern Munich has other plans for him.
Aside of right-back, the rest of Bayern Munich’s roster has good options on the bench. The wings, center-backs, and left-back all have good depth, so it will be vital that Flick finds a way to manage the wear and tear on Lewandowski, Muller, Kimmich, and Goretzka. A significant injury to any of the four — at this stage of the season — could have a disastrous effect on the team’s play.
Sure, you could make the same argument about Manuel Neuer, but let’s be honest — he will rarely, if ever, start a game on the bench from this point forward. It is the aforementioned quartet that holds the key to how far Bayern Munich can go this season.
Will Goretzka and Kimmich keep young midfielders away?
The news that broke this morning regarding Florian Neuhaus potentially not wanting to move to Bayern Munich was interesting, given the player’s close ties to the region (youth player for 1860 Munich, dad is a massive Bayern Munich fan).
Bayern Munich, of course, is a destination club for most players. Recent history, however, has shown that it is not always easy for young players to break through the talented roster. With Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich potentially looking like a midfield tandem for the ages, it might be hard for the club to realistically attract starting-caliber players like Neuhaus.
While Corentin Tolisso and Javi Martinez will almost certainly leave after the season, the status of Tiago Dantas is in limbo, and Marc Roca remains unable to impress Hansi Flick, Bayern Munich might not be the most appealing place for a young player looking to establish himself at a big club.
As Thomas Muller nears the end of his storied career, there is the potential for an attacking midfielder/second striker-type to make the jump in hopes of filling that void when Muller begins to ramp down. Still, a newcomer would likely have to fend off Jamal Musiala if the club does not permanently move the player out to wing (which is a possibility). There are also players like Torben Rhein and Fiete Arp on the FC Bayern Campus. If either player ever reaches his potential (which appears iffy at this stage), they could be factors for that spot as well.
Lost Classic: “Save it for Later” — The English Beat
As the years go on, the 80’s Nu-Wave genre and its pre-alternative music-esque offshoots fade from the memories of most, but not those who lived through the period.
While you probably have heard me expound on my appreciation for all 80’s music at one point or another, I was doing a little BFW work this morning when “Save it for Later” by The English Beat came through on my playlist.
I’m going to be honest, too... I took way too long trying to sort whether I should list them as “The English Beat,” “English Beat,” or “The Beat.”
Anyway, I always use shuffle unless I have a targeted genre or artist I am in the mood for, and this just hit the mark this morning for me as I was drinking my coffee and trying to figure out the plan for today. The song provided that little extra boost I needed to get moving.
For those of you more into the 90’s grunge scene, Pearl Jam does a brief cover of this that they break into at the tail end of “Better Man”, which works really well. I have the live version of them doing it and it’s pretty cool to say the least.
Pearl Jam is an interesting group for me. I was super into them during the 90’s and early 00’s, but I think I oversaturated myself with their music. Anytime they come through on my playlist now, I almost always hit skip unless two songs come through:
1: “Hail, Hail” — my all-time favorite Pearl Jam song.
2: “Do the Evolution” — a totally underappreciated song.
These are probably not the traditional picks for most people’s “Favorite Pearl Jam” song, but I am an odd bird I guess.
At the tail end of a grueling week, Bayern Munich will square off against Schalke 04 in a very winnable fixture. As always, the primary intrigue revolves around who Hansi Flick will actually roll out as part of his starting XI.
Robert Lewandowski is banged up, but the entire squad was running on fumes in the second half against FC Augsburg during Bayern Munich’s midweek match-up. The issue with omitting Lewandowski from the XI is that, after all, he is Lewandowski — the key to just about everything in the Bayern Munich offense.
Even Lewandowski, though, was not at his best against Augsburg as he uncharacteristically left two or three excellent chances on the pitch. The entire squad needs to finish better, but when Lewandowski is “off” or injured, the focus intensifies on others to produce.
Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting should be back after missing the Augsburg game due to the birth of his child, but can he provide enough offensive prowess to fill the void?
Regardless, Bayern Munich is lucky to be facing Schalke at this juncture. Die Königsblauen are in the midst of a putrid season, but have recently made significant efforts to revamp their roster. Even with those new additions and newfound trust in young players, Schalke is a major underdog.
One player to watch is Schalke’s young American forward Matthew Hoppe, who has been on fire of late. Otherwise, however, Die Königsblauen face an uphill battle.
Prediction: Schalke 04 0-4 Bayern Munich
Other Bundesliga predictions are as follows:
- Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
- Arminia Bielefeld 1-3 Eintracht Frankfurt
- FC Augsburg 2-3 Union Berlin
- Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Wolfsburg
- SC Freiburg 3-1 VfB Stuttgart
- Mainz 05 0-3 RB Leipzig
- Hertha Berlin 1-1 Werder Bremen
- Hoffenheim 2-1 FC Köln
Ugh. Last match day was not much better and I’m fully engrossed in a slump. If you have bet (legally or illegally), you know that slump. Every game is hazy and you just can’t get a feel for anything.
That is where I’m at.
This is the bad — and I mean really bad part — of gambling. For people that do it every day, they can’t walk away and reboot their brains; they just keep going. Unfortunately for me, I can’t walk away from this BFW feature, so getting a fresh look at the games in a week or so isn’t possible. I’m going to have to battle my way out of this — and maybe not pick Werder Bremen so much in the process
Last Bundesliga match day record: 4-5
Overall record: 77-83*
Guest predictors’ record: 19-4
(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League)