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Midweek Warm-up: There does not need to be a Bayern Munich brawl between Hansi Flick stans and Brazzo stans; Good for Niklas Süle in defending himself; A Champions League prediction; and MORE!

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Here we go! Bayern Munich vs. Lazio in the Champions League!!!!

SV Werder Bremen v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Photo by Stefan Matzke - sampics/Corbis via Getty Images

The reported feud between Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick and sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic is filling up the gossip pages in Sport Bild and elsewhere.

After sifting through all of the accounts, it can be safely assumed that that things are not exactly peachy between the two men.

Whatever beefs they have and whatever incidents caused them, the behind-the-scenes verbal sparring and corporate positioning does not have to turn into an us vs. them debate among fans.

Let’s be honest, both Flick and Brazzo deserve credit for their respective roles in Bayern Munich’s unprecedented run of success over the past two seasons. Both men have done great things to contribute to the wins and both men have also undoubtedly made mistakes along the way.

The odd thing thing through the bickering is how fans have started to align themselves into warring factions online. At this stage the Pro Flick vs. Pro Brazzo groups are ready for a Gangs of New York style street brawl:

But...here’s a novel thought, you don’t have to align yourself like this is a German football Game of Thrones. Like any great verbal sparring war, the resolution for what ails the relationship probably resides somewhere in the middle of the reported chasm between the two individuals.

What is unfortunate about the whole situation is how public it has become. Sure, you can doubt some of the reporting from the German media — certainly some within that press corps have an agenda to push — but there is likely enough smoke billowing from Säbener Straße to at least warrant a closer to look at the fire.

One of the biggest things to remember is that just about everyone in professional sports — no matter how humble — thirsts for a bit more power, recognition, or reward after a massive achievement:

  • Exceed expectations at work, you want more responsibility.
  • Prove that you can handle the added duties, you want a raise.
  • Continue to produce and excel, you want a better title.

It never ends, especially in the world of professional sports. Everyone — from front office personnel to the players themselves — needs a massive amount of self-confidence just to attain the level of stature they have achieved.

Ultimately most high-powered people want to keep adding to their responsibilities and increase their power or voice within an organization. Right now, Brazzo and Flick are probably both positioning themselves to be deemed important enough to wield even more power.

As for how this news came to light, this story does not necessarily feel like a group of reporters colluding to make something up. It feels like a leak from within Bayern Munich that was released by someone looking to put out their own agenda.

The X-factor in all of this is the consistent rumor that the DFB wants Hansi Flick — and also that the admiration is mutual.

I’ll say this again: It is not easy to find a manager like Flick, who can transform individual performances, change a team’s mindset, instill a sense of belief and confidence within a group, and build relationships with those players on his roster. He demands respect, but does so in way that doesn’t alienate his squad.

Ultimately, Flick is a manager that comes around about as often as Brigadoon. If I were Herbert Hainer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, or Oliver Kahn — and many probably are thankful I’m not — I’d get the boys in the room, air it all out, and try my damnedest to find a happy medium.

However...if I had to choose between the two, I’d go Flick every...single...day. I’d want to retain them both, but I’d be more inclined to side with the individual who will have more of a day-to-day impact on the squad itself.

It doesn’t need to come down to that, though — and hopefully it does not.

Given my reveal on where I’d align if I had to, I guess that means I’m going to have to grow one of those killer Bill the Butcher handlebar mustaches to lead the Pro Flick bunch should tensions escalate even more, aren’t I?


Süle strikes back

It was good to see Niklas Süle jump into the media fray to defend himself. Admittedly, we’ve had a big laugh over the years at the ludicrous stories where Süle’s weight has become a focus — mostly because nearly every account of “Fat Süle” never factors in that he is just a naturally big person, who is naturally going to weigh a bit more than the average footballer.

While it is also kind of sad that Süle had to hit the press to defend himself, I’m glad he did. About the only point in Süle’s interview that I disagreed with was his take on his role in Amine Younes’ goal in the loss to Eintracht Frankfurt. I do think Süle could have closed down on Younes sooner, but in the end, it’s just one play in a long season.

Every single Bayern Munich player has made — and will continue to make — mistakes on the pitch. For his effort over the course of the season, I’d be more-than-inclined to give the big man a pass on that momentary lapse in focus.

Anyway, here is to hoping that Süle continues to trend upward and work his way back to 100% after last season’s ACL surgery. While his future might be uncertain in Bavaria, it would be great to see him close this season in a strong manner and fully reassert as the club’s foundational center-back for the future.


Predictions

In a game that should not mean much, Bayern Munich is at home, heavily favored, and leading by three goals on aggregate.

Is it a shoo-in? Not by a longshot, but the Bavarians are still firmly in control of how this tie plays out. With more talent, more depth, and more speed, Bayern Munich is poised and ready to secure itself a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals.

As mentioned on the Der Ausblick podcast, Lazio is facing a monumental hurdle. Per Google, in 88 previous instances of a team losing the first leg of a European Cup/Champions League knockout tie by three or more goals at home, that team has ultimately lost the tie all 88 times.

The thinking here is that the aforementioned number hits 89 after this contest.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-1 Lazio


Prediction Records

Ugh...another shoddy week!

Last Bundesliga match day record: 3-6

Overall record: 120-115*

Guest predictors’ record: 23-4

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