And while there are many fascinating subplots within the game, the biggest is between two players who likely will not directly face-off at all: Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland.
Ballon d’Or be damned, Lewandowski is the world’s best player, while Haaland is the type of athlete who could follow a similar trajectory in his career — only doing everything at a younger age.
Lewandowski is the standard bearer for strikers. He can aptly score with both feet and with his head. He has a tremendous penchant for timing his runs and (somehow — despite all the attention he gets) finding the blind spot on defenders. When you combine all of that with great physical strength, good speed, and a nose for the goal, you have the world’s most complete striker.
With Haaland, we are starting to see many of the same traits. Physically bigger and faster than Lewandowski, Haaland is a menacing force. His natural size, strength, and blazing foot speed make him a near-impossible match-up for any defender. Moreover, Haaland has the ability to score with both feet, is exceptional at timing his runs, and often is able to out-muscle the opposition.
While he still needs to improve his aerial game, Haaland has all of the traits needed for a player to eventually usurp Lewandowski’s throne as the world’s best center-forward.
That is the future, though, and we are working in the here and now — which is Lewandowski’s world.
More than anything, Bayern Munich will need Lewandowski operating at his best. Shorthanded and undermanned, Bayern Munich will need its megastar to be the catalyst for the squad’s offense and an relentless force.
Haaland, meanwhile, could be on a minutes restriction due to a lingering injury, which means fans probably won’t get to appreciate the best strikers in the world for the entirety of the match.
So...enjoy every second while both players are out there and trying to will their respective teams to a victory. And while they won’t necessarily butt heads on the pitch, watching them both operate in a big match with a sense of urgency should be a treat for fans and pundits alike.
Song of the Week: “Push It” by Static-X
I have to admit, I needed some real hype music for this week’s match, so let’s throw it back to 1999 and get ready with Static-X’s “Push It”:
On the album “Wisconsin Death Trip” (which is what I imagine my liver called my visit to Milwaukee and Green Bay in the early-aughts), “Push It” was my favorite track because it explodes right from the beginning and never lets up. Classified as Industrial Metal, this track get the blood flowing even though it is now 22-years-old (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I am old).
ICYMI: Weekend Warm-up Podcast Season 1, Episode 27
What a week…
Bayern Munich was trapped in the middle of roughly a billion stories, but none were bigger than the botched Ballon d’Or.
That subject — and a few others — were the focus of this Weekend Warm-up Podcast. Here is what we have on tap:
- The reality that Robert Lewandowski was, indeed, better than Lionel Messi in 2020 and 2021 — and why the fanboys and bots just need to get help.
- The insane Pini Zahavi rumor mill that the super agent totally contrived in an attempt to put some early pressure on Bayern Munich to extend Robert Lewandowski.
- A dive into Der Klassiker and what Bayern Munich might to try and cover for the potentially gaping hole on its midfield.
This is a fascinating match-up for a lot of reasons. First, Borussia Dortmund needs this game. Sure, Dortmund’s season is not over if they lose, but they need some sort of hope that they can eventually outlast Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title.
More than anything, Dortmund’s psyche needs the victory, so that the squad can prove to itself that is is ready for primetime. That might sound absurd for a roster with so many stars, but until Dortmund can prove to itself that it can get over-the-hump, BVB will be left out in the cold.
As for Bayern Munch, the Bavarians are likely to be missing several key pieces, but I can only imagine that the motivational speech for this match will only need to be as simple as this: “Guys, it’s bleepin’ Dortmund,”
It won’t be easy, but Bayern Munich will pull it out.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich
Other Bundesliga predictions include:
- Union Berlin 1-3 RB Leipzig
- Arminia Bielefeld 1-1 FC Köln
- Augsburg 2-1 VfL Bochum
- Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 SpVgg Greuther Fürth
- Hoffenheim 2-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
- Mainz 05 1-2 Wolfsburg
- VfB Stuttgart 1-1 Hertha Berlin
- Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 SC Freiburg
Here is where we are at:
Last Bundesliga Match Day record: 4-5
Overall Bundesliga record: 57-51
DFB-Pokal record: 1-1
DFL-Supercup record: 1-0
Champions League record: 5-0
Overall record: 64-52
Guest prognosticator record: 0-1 (Cowards)