As Little Carmine once said on The Sopranos, “You’re on the precipice of an enormous crossroads.”
While the master of malaprops and botched sayings might have been a bit off in that statement, Bayern Munich is facing an incredibly difficult task in the coming days.
First, the Bavarians will have to square off with RB Leipzig — one of the best defensive teams in the Bundesliga. Then, Bayern Munich will play host to Paris Saint-Germain, who are one of the top offensive squads in all of football.
Even more — Hansi Flick’s squad will have to do all of this shorthanded. Sure, bench players like Corentin Tolisso and Douglas Costa are out (which won’t hurt all that much), but Bayern Munich will be missing Robert Lewandowski for both fixtures due to the knee injury he sustained with Poland during the international break. In addition, Bayern Munich will be without both Alphonso Davies (red card suspension) and Jerome Boateng (yellow card accumulation) for the RB Leipzig match.
Imagine missing three key starters for what amounts to be your most important Bundesliga match of the season? Flick doesn’t have to...he’s actually living it.
The 56-year-old manager is going to earn his paycheck over the course of this month. Flick will have to be flexible, creative, and lean on those relationships that he has built up with his players. The players, in turn, are going to have to trust in their manager and work to execute the game plans that he and his staff develop.
It will also be time for individual players to raise their respective games. Thomas Müller is going to need to be more assertive in looking to score, Leroy Sane is going to get an opportunity to prove that he truly is the difference maker Bayern Munich pursued all of those months. Kingsley Coman will get the chance to own PSG once again. Serge Gnabry is going to get that spotlight that so often shines on his other teammates. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka will be able to further convince the rest of the world exactly why they are the planet’s best midfield duo.
These are the matches that big-game players live for — and now it’s time for those players to take over.
Buckle up boys, you’re now driving this rig.
The flaws with The Sopranos
Since we saw Little Carmine quoted above, I figure this is a good time to get this take on The Sopranos off my chest.
Admittedly, I was (and still am) a big fan of the show. It was groundbreaking in so many ways and was a thoroughly entertaining program for its entirety.
Contrary to popular belief, however, the show had immense flaws. Like any shows, there were some extremely questionable storylines over the course of the series, but those always seemed to get wrapped up neatly or written off in a way that didn’t impact the quality of the show.
Where I had issues with The Sopranos, however, had more to do with the organization and planning of the show. Specifically, these are some of the issues that bothered me over the years about the show:
- Throwaway episodes: Nearly every season of The Sopranos had meaningless, throwaway episodes that did little to further the plot, enhance character development, etc. The show’s overall greatness always ultimately covered these up, but you could count on at least one episode that amounted to a wasted hour of your time per season.
- A throwaway season: The entire season of Tony being in a coma was an absolute waste of time. I always theorized that the writers had run out of ideas at this point and produced this season to kill off some time while they brainstormed a way to neatly wrap the series up. The dream sequences were painful to watch at times. I kind of hate when shows go too deep into the psychology of characters. A little bit of that is good...a deep dive of a full season of an unconscious character’s thoughts was, well, a little bit too much.
- The ending: This has long been a pet-peeve of mine. When I invest my time in show, I want to be entertained. More, I want to be told the ending no matter how good (aka Breaking Bad) or bad (ooof, Game of Thrones) I think it is. I just want closure and truthfully, I don’t want to have to figure it out. Of course, we heard years after the ending was widely bashed what was allegedly supposed to happen, but for all of the intensity of those final seconds of the show’s history, the audience was left dangling in the wind. To me, it was a weak way to close out one of the great series of all-time.
Now, let’s be clear: I still love The Sopranos and appreciate that it paved the way for so many great shows after it. The writers were absolutely brilliant in creating and molding entertaining characters. They also built storylines that were (for the large part) extremely well-done. I think most of what was done with The Sopranos was absolutely brilliant.
When it comes down to having interesting characters and storylines, consistently producing great episodes, and complete seasons — while also having a fulfilling ending, I still rate Breaking Bad and The Wire as more complete series than The Sopranos.
And I mean it...I really, really liked The Sopranos.
Sure, those shows had some flaws as well (The Wire’s fifth season left a lot to be desired until the series finale which was excellent), but I felt like those two series were just better from start-to-finish.
Musical interlude: “Novocaine” by The Unlikely Candidates
This is one of the (relatively) new songs I’ve been enjoying of late:
This has gotten major air play in Philly and the lyrics kind of struck a chord with me...let alone the awesome sound.
I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do.
The Bundesliga showdown between Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig is certainly a tough way for the Bavarians to play their first game without Robert Lewandowski.
RB Leipzig has had a stellar season in emerging as Bayern Munich’s primary competition for the Bundesliga title. Certainly, Julian Nagelsmann has done a tremendous job in helping his young squad become extremely formidable. The young manager has coached to his team’s strengths and made Die Roten Bullen a defensive powerhouse, which is led by future Bayern Munich center-back Dayot Upamecano.
From there, though, Leipzig has an astounding amount of depth along the backline. Lukas Klostermann, Ibrahima Konate, Willi Orban, Marcel Halstenberg, Angelino, Nordi Mukiele, and Benjamin Heinrichs have all played roles at one point or another for Leipzig. Unfortunately for Nagelsmann, Halstenberg won’t play because of a COVID-19 related quarantine and Angelino is banged up, but RB Leipzig’s group of defenders is nothing short of stacked.
The squad’s offense, however, is where things have not gone so well. Dominik Szoboszlai was supposed to provide a boost to Die Roten Bullen, but has not yet made an impact due to injury. Otherwise, Alexander Sorloth is starting to acclimate to Nagelsmann’s style, while Yussuf Poulsen, Dani Olmo, and Emil Forsberg still have roles to play in front of a talented midfield group.
Like the defense, RB Leipzig’s midfield is excellent. Marcel Sabitzer leads the way, but is supported by Christopher Nkunku, Tyler Adams, Kevin Kampl, and Konrad Laimer among others.
Make no mistake, this is an excellent side...but still not as good as Bayern Munich.
It might take a bit for Bayern Munich to feel this one out, but the Bavarians are stronger and even deeper than Leipzig. It won’t be easy, but expect Hansi Flick’s squad to pull out a hard-fought victory.
Prediction: RB Leipzig 1-2 Bayern Munich
Other Bundesliga predictions include:
- FC Augsburg 2-2 Hoffenheim
- Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Schalke 04
- Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
- Mainz 05 2-1 Arminia Bielefield
- Wolfsburg 3-1 FC Köln
- Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 SC Freiburg
- VfB Stuttgart 2-2 Werder Bremen
- Union Berlin 2-1 Hertha Berlin
Last Bundesliga match day record: 5-4
Overall record: 126-119*
Guest predictors’ record: 23-4