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Weekend Warm-up: The pressure on Benjamin Pavard; A final take on The Mandalorian; Bundesliga predictions; and MORE!

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It’s a big weekend in the Bundesliga as Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Dortmund lead the docket of fixtures.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Lokomotiv Moskva: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The situation with Bayern Munich right-back Benjamin Pavard seemingly blew up this week as the Frenchman was subbed off early and then subsequently criticized by manager Hansi Flick.

Clearly, Pavard has had better weeks.

One of the interesting segues on Pavard’s story, however, is the insinuation that he is not yet back to 100% after sustaining a ligament injury last year. Pavard’s ailment caused him to miss a good chunk of Bayern Munich’s final sprint toward a treble.

So, why would Pavard rush to get back when he has the security of a contract? A quick answer: The pressure that players face in trying to maintain their jobs sometimes forces them to make hasty and sometimes irresponsible decisions even with their own health.

Unfortunately for Pavard, it seems like he could have fallen victim to that pressure.

Many have assumed that Pavard was just struggling with his form and even perhaps in a bit of a slump. What if, however, Pavard is not even close to operating at 100%? What if he is not even at 85%? This is something that both Bayern Munich and the player himself are going to have to figure out — and figure out quickly.

If Pavard does, indeed, need more time to get healthy, both Bayern Munich and Pavard should take the time needed. Clearly, Pavard playing at whatever percent of health he currently is does not meet the stringent standards that Flick holds.

To maintain the good reputation that he had entering this season, Pavard needs to assess what means more to him: Forcing his way into the lineup when not operating at 100% or getting fully back to health and potentially being a part of another special run.

The pressure to keep his starting role, though, won’t make that an easy call.


The Manadalorian — okay I’m finished

I hit on my initial thoughts on The Mandalorian last week and finished the second season since then. I will say that the season two finale is exactly everything that anyone could ever have hoped it would be.

For those (like me) who have avoided the overall expanded universe (books, video games, etc.), in the world that exists in the post-”Return of the Jedi” timeframe, The Mandalorian is pretty much perfect.

To be clear, the story does not follow the paths of Luke, Leia, and Han, but the part of the galaxy that is left dealing with the fallout from the Empire’s demise while also exploring the remaining fragments of the Empire, the unstable political nature of the Rebellion’s bid to fix the galaxy, and the overall lawless nature of the Star Wars underworld.

I mean...it’s fantastic. I referenced that The Mandalorian is everything that “the sequels” could have been and I still feel strongly that way after finishing season two. Had there been better planning and more creativity, those sequels could have been much, much different (aka better).

My only concern is that the show is now in a state of “where do we go from here?” The two-season arc of finding a home for “The child”, aka Grogu, was all-encompassing, entertaining, and overall a lot of fun. It did, however, fall into a bit of a trap in being too formulaic:

  • Protagonist has a mission.
  • To get help in completing that mission, the protagonist needs to complete some other unrelated task for information or assistance.
  • Task complete.
  • Move on to next task.

One of the common characteristics of prestige television’s best shows is the unpredictable nature of each episode and that lack or reliance on anything completely resembling a procedural set-up.

I’m not read to say The Mandalorian is headed down that road, but there is that potential. I hope the writers can keep the great storylines going and find ways around relying on a procedural format.

I am totally ready to dive into season three whenever it gets released, which looks like early 2022.

As you can imagine, I am also dying to dive into the new season of Cobra Kai and will be starting that over the weekend.


Oh...this could have a predictable start

I wonder how many gamblers are looking at this and throwing down some loot on a proposition bet that M’Gladbach scores the first goal today?


Predictions

Bayern Munich is going to face a stiff challenge in Borussia Mönchengladbach and this represents a fixture where Bayern Munich might not be afforded the luxury of relying on a second half comeback to save the day.

There are questions abound with Hansi Flick’s lineup as Pavard (see above) could be in a do-or-die situation for his job, while the upcoming heavy slate of games could force the manager to rotate some of other players.

As always, who Bayern Munich uses on its back-line will be of interest — especially as David Alaba and Jerome Boateng have both been recently linked with summer transfers away from Bavaria.

Bayern Munich’s group of defenders — as a whole — has struggled in playing as a unit. Individually, some have been successful (Niklas Süle, Lucas Hernandez, Alphonso Davies), some have struggled with consistency (Pavard, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng), and some just have not been all that involved as of yet for various reasons (Bouna Sarr, Chris Richards, Tanguy Nianzou).

There is zero doubt that Borussia Mönchengladbach is going to look to exploit any holes they can find in that back-line and will absolutely challenge Hansi Flick’s high-line set-up. Die Fohlen has enough weapons to offensively and enough talent in the midfield and on defense that could make any deficit a mountain to climb for the Bavarians.

Regardless of all of that, though, Bayern Munich still is simply the better team and has Flick pulling the strings from the sideline. It wont be easy, but Bayern Munich will prevail.

Prediction: Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-3 Bayern Munich

Predictions for the other Bundesliga games are as follows:

  • Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Werder Bremen
  • SC Freiburg 2-2 FC Köln
  • Mainz 05 2-3 Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Schalke 04 1-2 Hoffenheim
  • Union Berlin 2-4 Wolfsburg
  • RB Leipzig 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
  • FC Augsburg 2-2 VfB Stuttgart
  • Arminia Bielefeld 1-2 Hertha Berlin

Prediction Records

Last Bundesliga match day record: 5-4

Overall record: 70-62*

Guest predictors’ record: 18-3

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