It is times like this where the squad planning at Bayern Munich really comes into focus.
Before we get going, this is not an anti-Brazzo rant. Let’s just be clear about that. It is more of a look at how the Bavarians ended up with such a thin corps for the next few games.
The pundits — including Lothar Matthäus — have chimed in and are taking their shots at Bayern Munich’s lack of depth. Make no mistake, though, no one could have predicted the mass amount of injuries, ailments, and suspensions that the Bavarians are currently facing this weekend.
For Bayern Munich to be so shorthanded at this moment, though, a lot of things had to happen. Let’s take a quick look at those lesser-talked about moves that have left Bayern Munich’s bench in such disarray:
- Joshua Zirkzee: On loan with Parma Calcio 1913, Zirkzee is currently injured (maybe for the rest of the season), but had not just plateaued at Bayern Munich before his move, but had regressed. A lack of movement and physicality in the final third ultimately hampered Zirkzee’s progress in Munich, which now leaves the striker depth chart a little barren behind Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. The Bavarians recently called up Christopher Scott from Bayern Munich II to help provide some depth.
- Fiete Arp: For whatever reason, Arp and Hansi Flick mutually agreed that the young striker would spend the entire season with Bayern Munich II and not be called up. Arp’s confidence and form have subsequently taken a hit on a subpar 3. Liga side and now there is thought that Arp will move on after this season. By now, Arp should have been capably able to help with depth behind Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, and at both wings. Instead, he’s a part-time starter for Bayern Munich II. Even for the most ardent #ArpTrain supporter (me?), this has been tough to watch unfold.
- Chris Richards: Yeah...if Bayern Munich could do it all over again, it would not have loaned Richards to Hoffenheim. Richards’ ability to play multiple spots along the backline would have been huge for Flick at the moment. More, Richards has made such a fantastic impression that Hoffenheim could be looking to bring on Richards permanently — which could be attractive to the Alabama native given the instant playing time he received in Sinsheim.
- Tiago Dantas: The ever-so-slight midfielder has not worked out with Bayern Munich. After spending time with Bayern Munich II, Dantas has been training with the first-team and anchored to the bench for games. It is easy to surmise that if he was good enough to help, his number would have been called already.
- Bouna Sarr: Not to pile on the Frenchman, but he has been so poor that Flick shifted him to third on the depth chart at right-back behind Benjamin Pavard and Niklas Süle.
Forward Leon Dajaku moved on to Union Berlin over the winter as well, but he has far too much cowboy in him to have been considered an option for Flick at this stage. Similarly, Michaël Cuisance and Adrian Fein each likely have no long-term future at Bayern Munich and needed to move on with their respective loan assignments when when they did.
Some of these moves were ill-timed (Richards), while others were the result of the perils of trying to develop youth (Zirkzee, Arp). Still, some others were just flatly bad decisions (Sarr, Dantas).
However Bayern Munich’s roster ended up here, Flick’s job in piecemealing a lineup together for Union Berlin — and potentially against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday — will not be easy.
For those of us (like me!), who often refer to Flick as a genius...the 56-year-old can really earn that title if he strategizes a way to win the next two games with such a depleted squad.
Hype Music: “Trouble’s Coming” by Royal Blood
I’ve been into this song a lot of late and it would normally be a terrific theme for the Bayern Munich attack heading into a couple of big games. Anyway, this track starts out with some immediate thumping and to me, at least, gets my blood pumping a bit.
Let’s hope this is exactly how the opposition still sees Bayern Munich when they look at the schedule:
This is not a “hype track” by any means, but given all of the injuries Bayern Munich is facing now, I instantly thought of an episode of Teen Titans Go! (my kids were enormous fans when they were younger). This song is apt for the current situation at Bayern Munich:
Obviously, I’m saying that with a little bit of tongue-in-cheek meaning, but I legit feel like Ineednoname could have belted out “All I Know is Pain” as his theme for the week.
The big question surrounding Bayern Munich this week is regarding exactly who is available to play against Union Berlin. The laundry list of injuries is stifling:
- Leon Goretzka (injury)
- Niklas Süle (injury)
- Lucas Hernández (injury)
- Marc Roca (injury)
- Robert Lewandowski (injury)
- Douglas Costa (injury)
- Corentin Tolisso (injury)
- Alphonso Davies (red card suspension)
More, Joshua Kimmich did not practice earlier today and Benjamin Pavard and Leroy Sane were limited to light jogging. There really is no clear indication as to if fans should be legitimately worried about the status of those three players as well. While all three are expected to be available, it still can’t leave fans feeling great.
Tanguy Nianzou? Christopher Scott? Bouna Sarr? Javi Martinez? Tiago Dantas? Lace ‘em boys, you might be going in.
The timing of all of this is pretty brutal considering Bayern Munich has a return leg in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. Does Flick even risk using players like Thomas Müller, Kimmich, Pavard, Sane, and Kingsley Coman extensively in this match?
Who knows...but all of that makes this game kind of impossible to predict. Union Berlin is a decent side and is sitting in seventh place of the Bundesliga table. Even with a full team, this match would not be easy.
Still...I’m going to pick Bayern Munich and I have a weird reason why.
For many seasons, I watched Allen Iverson have a great career with the Philadelphia 76ers. On the occasions where Iverson was hurt, sick, or indisposed for other reasons, the 76ers often rallied around the core group that was available. I think Bayern Munich has enough true professionals to do the same against Union Berlin.
Sure, Bayern Munich might be missing a few Iversons in this game, but I expect Hansi Flick to coax a superb performance out of his game day roster (whoever that might be).
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 Union Berlin
Other Bundesliga predictions include:
- Arminia Bielefield 1-2 SC Freiburg
- Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2 Wolfsburg
- Hertha Berlin 1-3 Borussia Mönchengladbach
- Werder Bremen 0-2 RB Leipzig
- VfB Stuttgart 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
- Schalke 04 1-2 FC Augsburg
- FC Köln 2-2 Mainz 05
- Hoffenheim 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Let’s hope for a better week.
Last Bundesliga match day record: 4-5
Last Champions League match day record: 0-1
Overall record: 130-125*
Guest predictors’ record: 23-4
(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, Club World Cup, and Champions League)