Bayern Munich is not only one of the deepest and most talented teams in the world, the Bavarians are one of the most mentally tough sides as well.
That fortitude is going to be put through the ringer in the coming weeks as the Bundesliga race heats up — and also with the fact that the Bavarians will have to barrel through Paris-Saint Germain and likely (sorry Borussia Dortmund) Manchester City just to make the Champions League final.
That is a serious gauntlet.
I think it is about time to have Hansi Flick grow an unkempt beard, move to Russia over this upcoming international break, and start doing some rudimentary strength and fitness training by running through snow and creeks, sawing some logs, pulling Uli Hoeneß on a sled, and hurling boulders.
So what does Bayern Munich needs to do to fend off the daunting schedule ahead of it. Let’s take a look:
- Stay healthy: Yup...I get it...this is Bayern Munich. The Bavarians already have a few injuries, but the drop-off in the midfield and with some of the forwards from the starters to the bench players is steep. Sure, players like Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Jamal Musiala, and Javi Martinez have been decent this season, but should the Bavarians experience an injury to Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich, or Leon Goretzka, things could get very dicey quickly. With six quality defenders (David Alaba, Alphonso Davies, Benjamin Pavard, Jerome Boateng, Niklas Sule, and Lucas Hernandez) for four backline starting positions, the depth there is much better and more sustainable. In addition, with three top-flight wingers, there is at least enough depth to sustain a knock among one of those players as well.
- Avoid backline lapses: Earlier in the season, we saw Bayern Munich’s backline get caught ball-watching too much and this ailed every defender at one point of another. Playing in such a risky manner means that there can never be a momentary failure of concentration. Whether it is Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Chelsea or whoever; just about every team left in the Champions League has players that will slice through any mistake. Similarly, Bayern Munich’s route to a Bundesliga title might not be nearly as difficult as the Champions League, but there is still plenty of potential danger that could compromise Bayern Munich’s hope for a ninth consecutive title. The hope here is that the higher stakes bring a heightened sense of awareness for Bayern Munich’s defensive group.
- Enjoy the ride: Things are going to change mightily after this season. Alaba is gone. Boateng and Martinez are most likely gone. Corentin Tolisso could go. Flick — the straw that stirs the drink — could potentially leave. As each day passes, the noise surrounding all of those potential moves will get louder and louder. It will be immensely important for Bayern Munich to not only keep its eye on the task-at-hand, but also have fun with the experience. This is a career-defining stretch for the players and coaches in Bavaria. Survive this...and you write yet another incredible chapter in the history of football.
It is not going to be easy, but if Bayern Munich can manage to do those three things at a minimum, we could see a repeat of the magic that was the 2019/2020 season.
Pavard getting back to form
Benjamin Pavard has had an interesting season to say the least. After a rocky start to the campaign, Pavard has started to round back into form over his last few appearances.
Pavard’s shaky play earlier in the season has not been formally addressed by the club, but it could easily be said that the Frenchman simply rushed back from injury and was not operating at 100% at the start of the season.
We’ve addressed the pressure for players to get back into the lineup before in this space and it is legitimate — especially at a club with the depth and resources of Bayern Munich. Now, though, Pavard not only has to keep his current form to quell any concerns from the masses, but any time he is slightly off, there will be calls for a new right-back.
Pavard, when healthy and in-form, is still a top-tier right-back. I get that a lot of people love the shiny new toys that a transfer window can provide, but Pavard is versatile, steady, and can be an equally strong contributor to both the offense and defense.
Here is to hoping that Pavard continues his solid play and that the calls for a new outside defender are stifled for the immediate future.
Hype music: Gallows Pole by Led Zeppelin
I dug into the “wayback machine” for this song, which qualifies as my favorite Led Zeppelin tune. The lengthy intro starts slow, builds up, and then explodes into a bit of fury and excitement — hey much like some Bayern Munich games!
If I am in a classic rock kind of mood, “Gallows Pole” is almost always on the docket for me to listen to. Enjoy it.
Bayern Munich will not have an easy task ahead of it — even if my final score prediction might indicate a blowout. VfB Stuttgart is a hungry team that is playing extremely well. With speed, offensive tenacity, and momentum, Die Schwaben can create a headache for any Bundesliga squad — even the red Bavarian juggernaut.
Bayern Munich, however, will have a distinct advantage in this match and that will be with its offense going up against the Stuttgart defense. This is yet another opportunity for Robert Lewandowski to add to his goal total and inch even closer to Gerd Müller’s record — and I’m going to say he nails down a brace to help that effort.
Have fun watching VfB Stuttgart’s amazing young trio of Borna Sosa, Silas Wamangituka, and Sasa Kalajdzic, though.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-0 VfB Stuttgart
Other Bundesliga predictions include:
- Arminia Bielefield 0-2 RB Leipzig
- Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2 Union Berlin
- FC Köln 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
- Werder Bremen 1-3 Wolfsburg
- Schalke 04 1-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
- Hoffenheim 2-1 Mainz 05
- Hertha Berlin 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
- SC Freiburg 2-2 FC Augsburg
Let’s hope for better results across the board this week.
Last Bundesliga match day record: 3-6
Last Champions League match day record: 1-0
Overall record: 121-115*
Guest predictors’ record: 23-4
(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, Club World Cup, and Champions League)