Niklas Süle’s season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride so far. The center-back has had some absolutely brilliant performances and also some imminently forgettable showings.
Just over a year after tearing his ACL, Süle has not had the type of season that everyone wanted to see. There were reports that Süle’s fitness, diet, and form troubled Bayern Munich at various points this season and there seems to be enough smoke to those fires that rumors started to swirl that Süle might actually be looking to leave Bavaria — with Chelsea being the most likely destination.
Let’s just pump the brakes on all of that talk, though, and look at some Süle’s history with Bayern Munich and what he brings to the table:
- Prior to his injury, Süle was the unquestioned top performer at center-back and was thought of as the foundational piece to the Bayern Munich backline.
- At just 25-years-old, Süle is still young enough to get back to 100% with his knee. An ACL tear can be an injury that ruins a promising career or it can be shaken off in anywhere from 12 to 24 months, with an athlete eventually returning to peak form. At this point, we don’t know how this will all play out with Süle — but he has time to continue his journey to full recovery.
- Süle’s size, speed, passing ability, and versatility make him a dynamic presence on the back-line. Right now, the Germany international is struggling at times with his initial burst. That is one of the last movements to comeback to an athlete — especially one of Süle’s stature — after a major knee injury. It is only fair to give Süle more time to work through the physical and mental barrier that every athlete faces after such trauma.
- Süle can aptly play right center-back, left center-back, or right-back with aplomb.
Sometimes fate is fickle and for Süle, today’s match could be the Big Man’s chance to prove his mettle at center-back once again.
In the end, it is far too early to write Süle off or even think about letting him walk away from Munich (who would play golf with Thomas Müller?). Hopefully today is the performance that sets Süle back on the right path toward establishing consistently good performances for this season.
There is no time like the present, eh?
Throwback music for my pregame
I’ve been thinking about a good pregame song for a while and I dug deep into my playlist to pull out this gem (phrasing!) by California-based punk band Pennywise. “Bro Hymn” is one of my favorite “get hype” songs as it starts with a slow build up and then explodes into some hardcore fun. Truthfully, I cranked it up on the way home from soccer practice with my 10-year-old daughter the other night...and she did not object to it.
Anyway, “Bro Hymn” might not be for everyone, but this one will absolutely be on my playlist as I get ready to watch today’s game and it always gets my blood pumping.
“Bro Hymn” has been used by a ton of pro sports teams in various capacities, including by the Philadelphia Flyers for a spell (roughly 2007-2011). Here are a few of the soccer clubs that have used it, including VfB Stuttgart in the mid-aughts — which some of you might remember (per Wikipedia):
- The official goal song of the German soccer club and 2007 champion VfB Stuttgart since the 2006/2007 season and is played after each home goal. The band performed the song once in the stadium when they were touring Europe.
- The official goal song of the Dutch soccer club Vitesse Arnhem.
- The Belgian soccer club K.R.C. Genk.
- The Belgian soccer club Zulte Waregem.
- The American Major League Soccer soccer club Houston Dynamo goal song.
- Played by the Seattle Sounders band before the march to the stadium from Pioneer Square at the MLS Cup 2009.
- The Major League Soccer San Jose Quakes use it for celebrating home goals during the 2010 season.
Bayern Munich is the clear favorite against Tigres UANL, but we can’t pretend that everything is peachy for the Bavarians:
- Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez are still out with COVID-19.
- Jerome Boateng sadly had to leave the squad after the tragic death of his ex-girlfriend.
- In general, the boys are still trying to overcome collective fatigue and the travel fiasco they endured from Friday night into Saturday.
Even without those factors, this would not be a game where Bayern Munich could let its guard down for even a second. The Bavarians are absolutely the deeper, faster, stronger, better, and more talented side. Tigres UANL, however, is going to play this game like it is the World Cup final — not the Club World Cup finale.
Already a bit wobbled by a myriad of factors listed above, Bayern Munich is going to have to come out and probably absorb a few punches without hitting the canvas before it will be able to establish the pace for the contest.
Similar to its match against Al Ahly, Bayern Munich would be wise to sit a little deeper and not take as many chances defensively, while also looking to capitalize on its advantage in speed and skill. Quick counter-attacks in this game could be a dynamic attacking option early when Tigres UANL is running on pure adrenaline and could be prone to mistakes.
If Bayern Munich can establish and early lead and control of the game, Hansi Flick will be able to coax his boys into slowly wearing down the opposition. The Bavarians must avoid getting caught ball-watching and need be cognizant that Tigres UANL can — and will — hurt them if they get sloppy.
The feeling here is that Bayern Munich is able to execute that type of game plan, but this won’t be easy by any means.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-0 Tigres UANL
I am back over .500 and absolutely loving it. Let’s hope I stay there!
Last Bundesliga match day record: 5-3*
(*Arminia Bielefeld vs. Werder Bremen was postponed)
Last Match Day record — Club World Cup: 1-0
Overall record: 94-93**
Guest predictors’ record: 22-4
(**includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League)