When scoping the weekend of matches in the Bundesliga, the one game that leapt off the page was Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen — a match that pits the league’s top two squads against each other.
After steamrolling through the majority of its early schedule, Bayern Munich now faces a young, hungry, and talented Bayer Leverkusen side looking to make a name for itself.
Is this the first big test to see how the team responds to (some) adversity under Julian Nagelsmann?
Well, uh, maybe....I guess?
While Leverkusen might not be a slouch on the pitch, Die Werkself is probably not a bigger obstacle than what Bayern Munich (allegedly) has going on within its locker room. Let’s take a look at the outside factors Julian Nagelsmann has to account for this weekend.
- Lucas Hernandez is in some hot water legally and as much as everyone at Bayern Munich wants to downplay the situation, it is hard to discern just how focused any player can be when facing the potential of jail time.
- If the Sport Bild reports are true, Robert Lewandowski is entering a bit of a “woe is me” meltdown mode. If they are not true, it has at least caused team president Herbert Hainer to address transfer rumors that are not even timely or pertinent...yet. Hopefully, the Polish Hitman can work past any issues he may (or may not!) have.
- Niklas Süle’s contract negotiations are stalled, transfer rumors, persist and there is not any time for the club to take a hardline stance with him. The Bavarians need Süle on the pitch and lasered in continuing his evolution as a player.
- The international breaks are historically not kind — or restful — for Bayern Munich’s core group. With so many key players logging extra minutes, there is a legit possibility that at least some of the squad could be entering the weekend banged up and with heavy legs.
- Joshua Kimmich continues to log insane minutes for club and country and that accumulation seems to have had at least some effect on his performances. Unfortunately for Das Deutsche Energiebündel, this probably isn’t the match to take a PTO day
A full roster
- This should be....a good thing, right?
- Ah, finally...we appear to be in one of those rare spots where Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, and Kingsley Coman are all healthy. Moreover, Jamal Musiala looks more than capable of being a starting XI winger. If Coman is cleared for the match, Nagelsmann will start really having some tough decisions on his plate for every game.
- While it’s true that most other positions have a clearly laid out depth chart, Nagelsmann still has some pretty good players, who have been left out in the cold. Marcel Sabitzer has essentially been limited to garbage time minutes, while Tanguy Nianzou has been buried behind more-established, better players. Then there is Musiala, who has just made it impossible to ignore how good and impactful he is.
- The Transfer Boys: This is — admittedly — the least of Nagelsmann’s concern, but you can bet that players like Corentin Tolisso, Marc Roca, and Michael Cuisance are all working back channels to the manager trying to get playing time, so they can showcase themselves for suitors. Tell me, though, that these three players would not be an absolute banger of a boy band. Cuisance is the mischievous bad boy, Roca is the quiet one, and Tolisso is the mysterious one...mostly because he is hardly around.
While the first weeks of the season were a pretty glorious feeling out period for Nagelsmann, the real work now begins — and it kicks off on Sunday against Bayer Leverkusen and the red-hot German phenom Florian Wirtz.
Right about now, Nagelsmann might be channeling his inner-Coldplay to start figuring out his plan forward: “Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard.”
I think we can mark this week down as the time that the new boss really feel like he’s earning his big paycheck.
ICYMI: The Weekend Warm-up Podcast
Bayern Munich is getting ready to kick back into Bundesliga action this weekend, but the club had more than a few big stories break this week — and we’re not even delving too far into Lucas Hernandez being summoned to Spain to face a prison sentence.
Let’s take a look at what we have on tap for this episode:
- A recap of Germany’s progress under Hansi Flick.
- More noise surrounding Niklas Süle’s uncertain future in Bavaria.
- Robert Lewandowski’s rumored meltdown and why this probably has at least some validity.
- Bayern Munich’s front office taking a look at what it might take to bring in Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland.
Song of the Week: “The Good Life” by Weezer
You want to feel old? Weezer’s incredibly underrated album, “Pinkerton”, came out 25 years ago last month.
25 years...oh man.
Pinkerton was an album that had a few radio-recognizable hits if you were lucky enough to have a dedicated alt-rock station in your area, but because this album did not fit into “pop”, “hard rock”, “classic rock”, or “hip hop”, it kind of got lost for a lot of people.
There are some truly standout tunes on what is a sensational overall album, but “The Good Life” is truly one of the standouts for me.
You might also know “El Scorcho”, “Tired of Sex”, and “Pink Triangle”, which are all also excellent.
Bayern Munich might be facing a tough task this weekend (for all of the reasons mentioned above), but the Bavarians are still more talented, still deeper, and still better than Bayer Leverkusen. That is not a slight on Die Werkself, though.
Leverkusen has shown that it is no slouch and it truly has a dynamic for in Wirtz, who is a handful for anyone. Still, Bayern Munich just dropped a decision to Eintracht Frankfurt and will likely not be in a mood to be trifled with.
The final score is going make things look a bit easier than they actually will be.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3, Bayer Leverkusen 1
Other Bundesliga predictions include:
- Hoffenheim 2-1 FC Köln
- Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Mainz 05
- Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2 Hertha Berlin
- SC Freiburg 0-1 RB Leipzig
- SpVgg Greuther Fürth 2-2 VfL Bochum
- Union Berlin 1-2 Wolfsburg
- Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 VfB Stuttgart
- FC Augsburg 2-1 Arminia Bielefeld
Last Bundesliga Match Day record: 5-4
Overall Bundesliga record: 35-28
DFB-Pokal record: 1-0
DFL-Supercup record: 1-0
Champions League record: 2-0
Overall record: 39-28
Guest prognosticator record: 0-1