As David Byrne once calmly stated in the middle of the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime” — “How did I get here?”
Bayern Munich has to be thinking the same thing as it is set to face Paris Saint-Germain in a rematch of last season’s Champions League finale — only this time the two powerhouses are squaring off in the UCL quarterfinals. The hitch, however, is that the Bavarians will take the pitch without both Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry.
Talk about less-than-ideal conditions.
Lewandowski suffered a knee injury while on international duty with Poland, while Gnabry became the latest high-profile athlete to have part of his season derailed by COVID-19.
For PSG, this is probably about as good a scenario and the French club could have asked for in playing a road match at the Allianz Arena. For Bayern Munich, it is one more hill to climb in what has been an extremely challenging season.
The funny thing is that Bayern Munich fans have not devolved into any type of Chicken Little-esque hysteria...in fact, most have taken the devastating news about Lewandowski and Gnabry in stride. It has become apparent that the battle armor on fans of the Bavarians has grown stronger over the years — and rightfully so.
Bayern Munich is led by a master tactician, who has the backing of his roster. Players are sacrificing their own games for the good of the team and there is so much talent on-hand that even with Lewandowski and Gnabry out of the mix, at least two absolutely starting caliber players will still be on the bench.
None of this will be easy, though. PSG is no joke. They are talented, fast, skilled, and well-coached. Bayern Munich, however, has the mental edge — partly due to Hansi Flick and partly due to the knowledge that they have a great team that is battle-tested.
You might even say that Bayern Munich’s attitude has simply evolved into a mentality of “same as it ever was.”
Get ready for Bayern Munich vs. Paris Saint-Germain with BPW.
The Walking Dead: On Life Support
Okay, so let’s just wrap up the latest season of The Walking Dead with a quick hitter.
It was very bad.
Alright, I’ll go a little deeper than that. Aside of the last episode, which featured the origin story for Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), TWD’s latest season was not great. Sure, even Negan’s origin was rushed and probably could have been spread over two or three episodes to totally be done correctly, but it was by far the best episode of a poor season.
Let’s acknowledge that there were some coronavirus-induced filming obstacles that were hurdled to even make this season happen and perhaps the haphazard nature of the storyline could have been overlooked if the previous seasons weren’t a mess as well. Unfortunately, though, this latest season just piggybacked on a couple of seasons that went in circles.
Morgan — as always — captures his character perfectly. In a rare case of fun, he got to act with his wife (Hilary Burton Morgan — you might remember her from One Tree Hill if you are an American of a certain age), who played Negan’s wife Lucille. The back story was well-done and was by far the most entertaining episode of the season.
Hopefully that is one to build from, but the series still seems to have written itself into a wall. Per Entertainment Weekly, we’ll get the start of the show’s final season in August:
As The Walking Dead was wrapping up its extended season 10 with the long-awaited “Here’s Negan” adaptation, AMC dropped a surprise juicy tidbit for fans in the form of the first teaser for season 11, as well as the official premiere date for the zombie drama’s final season.
Season 11 will premiere Aug. 22 with a batch of eight new episodes. That will leave 16 more episodes in the 24-episode final season to be released in two more batches of eight, most likely in winter/spring of 2022 and summer/fall of 2022. The Aug. 22 premiere date is considerably earlier than the usual mid-to-late October premiere dates for TWD season premieres, but with two other scripted franchise shows (Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond) also in production, it’s easier for AMC to shift dates as necessary.
Some other thoughts:
- I finished HBO’s Q: Into the Storm and that was a pretty fascinating look at breaking down an internet mystery. It was extremely well-done.
- I still have the last season of Fargo on my DVR and have not watched it yet. I can’t explain why I have waited so long.
- I’ve been on a major watching sports at night kick (especially now that we’ve got Bundesliga, Champions League, MLB, NBA, and NHL all going), so my “series watching” has taken a hit. I’ve been trying to get to bed earlier as well because — well, at 44 — I’m an old bastard.
- My wife recently watched The New Girl on Netflix and every time I walked by, I found myself entertained. I doubt I’ll dive into watch the whole series, but I can say from my cursory glances that the characters had a good rapport and it was legitimately funny. It also made me aware of where so many GIFs came from.
Hype Music: “Walk” by Pantera
What better way to get ready for this game than with “Walk” by Pantera?
Given the injuries to Lewandowski and Gnabry, there is probably no sane reason to expect Bayern Munich to knock off Paris Saint-Germain. I am idiot, though, and will take Bayern Munich in this match.
For this to happen, Flick’s backline will have to retain its more conservative approach, his midfield must dominate the match, and his forwards must create enough chaos to open up space at the top of the box for the midfield trio of Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich, and Leon Goretzka to take over the game.
In addition, possession in this match will be vital for Bayern Munich. PSG has too much speed and skill to be given free rein to wear the Bavarian backline down.
The belief for me is that Bayern Munich will control possession, press like madmen, limit damage with a less risky defensive approach, and not get overwhelmed by Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
That is a lot to ask of any team, but this Bayern Munich squad is more equipped than most to make it happen.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Another subpar week for predictions.
Last Bundesliga match day record: 4-5
Overall record: 130-124*
Guest predictors’ record: 23-4