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Weekend Warm-up: Is Leroy Sané’s emergence hurting Harry Kane and Bayern Munich’s attack?; Thoughts on Julian Nagelsmann’s first roster for Germany; Throwing it back to The Kinks; Bundesliga predictions; & MORE!

Bayern Munich vs. SC Freiburg on Sunday (ugh!).

FC Bayern München v Manchester United: Group A - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by Marcel Engelbrecht - firo sportphoto/Getty Images

One of the truly odd themes of this season has been the lack of involvement for Harry Kane in the Bayern Munich attack.

Kane, Bayern Munich’s luxury transfer from the summer window, has tallied nine goals and four assists in nine games across all competitions, so it might seem bizarre to even think that he is not being utilized properly. Kane’s production alone says that he has been a good addition, but is Bayern Munich getting the most out of its prized transfer?

This is not a situation like Sadio Mané, where the squad almost force fed him the ball at times — only to watch him repeatedly go offside of fluff his lines. It is something...different.

For stretches, Kane cannot get the ball and often seems to be an afterthought with how the attack operates. We have already seen Thomas Tuchel explain that in some games, Kane will be asked to play a different, deeper role. Just because a player can do something, should he?

Whatever the case, when there are matches like Kane had against FC Copenhagen (22 total touches, zero shots, 54% passing accuracy), it shows that something is not working.

But what? Is it the way he is melding with his teammates on the pitch? According to Sport Bild journalist Christian Falk (as captured by @iMiaSanMia), Bayern Munich star Leroy Sané and Kane are enjoying a beautiful working relationship:

Leroy Sané is in excellent harmony with Harry Kane, contrary to his relationship with Robert Lewandowski — which was considered to be tense. The signing of Kane is an argument for Sané to extend his contract at Bayern. Another argument is Thomas Tuchel. Sané is enjoying working under Tuchel more than ever and loves discussing tactics and training content with him. The coach helped show Sané where he needs to improve and still sees a lot of room for improvement and potential that he wants to help him reach.

Sané seems to have benefitted from Kane’s presence with six goals in 10 games across all competitions, but...is he in “excellent harmony” with the club’s star striker?

Before you come crashing down on this being some sort of hit piece on Sané, it is not. The Germany international has been a dynamic, attacking force this season and a true beacon to the squad’s efforts this season. Simply put, Sané has been magnificent so far this season.

F.C. Copenhagen v FC Bayern Munchen: Group A - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
Should Bayern Munich focus the attack more on Harry Kane?
Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

However, Sané’s breakthrough as the attack’s focal point has had an undesired effect — a lack of involvement for Kane. It is not just Sané’s emergence that has helped create the lack of involvement for Kane, though, but it has taken the leading role.

Certainly, Jamal Musiala and Serge Gnabry have more of a scoring mentality than being facilitators as well. Is the combination of the three players — who are more or less the supporting attackers around Kane that Tuchel favors — creating a break in what should be the natural flow of the offense?

While Coman got the start for the injured Gnabry, Sané and Musiala dominated the very choppy attack against FC Copenhagen (not exactly a juggernaut), while Kane scuffled away to get noticed. It was a poor attacking effort from the starting group as a whole and something that should be a concern.

For upwards of €100 million, this is not what Bayern Munich had to envision when it forked over that chunk of loot for Kane this summer. Moreover, will Tuchel have to examine his tactics — and personnel decisions — surrounding Kane to get the most out of the Englishman?

Kane’s breakdown of touches just seems light, though it is consistent (per SofaScore.com):

  • Werder Bremen: 33 touches, 3 shots on target
  • FC Augsburg: 30 touches, 2 shots on target
  • Borussia Mönchengladbach: 32 touches, 0 shots on target
  • Bayer Leverkusen: 29 touches, 2 shots on target
  • Manchester United: 35 touches, 2 shots on target
  • VfL Bochum: 39 touches, 4 shots on target

It is also fair to ask whether Kane’s lack of involvement in the offense is a “Kane problem” or an issue with the players surrounding him?

While Musiala has great vision, he seems to be more inclined to rip his own shots than play the role of point-guard. Similarly, Gnabry seems to look more for his own shot than crossing or passing to the striker.

Against challenging teams, it seems like a big risk to continue to operate in this manner. If RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen, and FC Copenhagen can take advantage of Bayern Munich’s choppy attack, what would happen against Real Madrid or Manchester City?

Maybe, though, Kane could be moving more — and better. Maybe the Englishman could make more of an effort to adapt his game to his teammates. Either way, it is fair to ask if these types of performances are going to be sustainable — in terms of winning games — for the long run of this season.

The frustration that FC Barcelona star Robert Lewandowski felt during his last season in Bavaria was a precursor to exactly this scenario and could be something that Kane is dealing with soon enough.

However, Bayern Munich is winning, the team seems to like each other, and Tuchel has not dropped an H-bomb into the locker room yet, so all is good. Certainly, there is plenty of time for the squad to get more of a feel for playing together and learning each other’s idiosyncrasies. Things should improve.

Situations like this, however, are always good...until they are not. Knowing the history — a three-year lack of focus on feeding a striker that absolutely pre-existed before Tuchel arrived — it is fair to ask if the situation will improve without a drastic change in personnel or tactical philosophy from Tuchel.

For fans, the question ultimately comes down to this: Would you feel more comfortable if the attack shifted its philosophy to focusing more on a designated target man like Kane or will this situation work itself out over the course of the season?

Lewandowski already knows his response to that question.


Bavarian Podcast Works: Weekend Warm-up Podcast Season 3, Episode 13

As Bayern Munich heads into another international break, the Bavarians will face a stiff test from SC Freiburg, but also have the opportunity to quiet some of noise surrounding the team.

Thomas Tuchel has the fanbase at each other’s throats and while the team is winning, things are not as pretty as most would like. There are transfer rumors and A LOT to talk about with the squad. So, let’s get to it! Here is what we have on tape for this episode:

  • A preview of the Bayern Munich vs. SC Freiburg match where we take a look at the form of each team, the potential starting lineup for Bayern, and give a prediction on the match.
  • Discussing the uneasy feeling that Bayern Munich’s wins are covering for a lot of flaws with the team.
  • Bayern Munich is not getting the most out of Harry Kane...but why? Let’s talk about it.
  • Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry, Alphonso Davies, Matthijs de Ligt, and Joshua Kimmich are just some of the names that have already been linked with a transfer away for next summer. Asr these just baseless rumors or is there a brewing problem on the squad?
  • Addressing those Jerome Boateng rumors.

Nagelsmann’s first call list for Germany

Julian Nagelsmann put his imprint on the German national team with his first roster and there were certainly some surprises on who was called — and who was not. Regardless, Nagelsmann’s impact is going to be far less about the players he has brought into the squad for the upcoming games than how he handles those players.

What we have all learned in recent months is that there is a deficiency with professionalism with some players on the squad, there has also been a lack of intensity and focus on the pitch, and that the squad’s mentality needs to be changed — completely.

Nagelsmann — a notorious tinkerer — will not have much time to try out different formations and player combinations in the national team format. There is no consistency in day-to-day training to get a read for the strengths and weaknesses of a player.

This is a new world for the manager. Maybe the lack of every day involvement will be a good thing...or maybe not.

Whether it works out in the end or not does not matter much, Germany had very limited options for its new boss. Now, Nagelsmann has to prove that he was the right choice to get the German back on track.

On paper, the roster looks competitive. However, a loss to the United States or Mexico would create even more panic for Germany fans. Nagelsmann cannot afford to get off to a bad start and must seek to eradicate whatever funk has been ailing this group over the past year.


Song of the Week: “Lola” by The Kinks

You know what? It is time to drop into the “Wayback Machine” and hit up 1970 for one of the seminal rock songs of that period from The Kinks — “Lola”. The backstory on “Lola” is, of course, one to behold, so enjoy this one:


Predictions

Somehow, even at this stage of the season, this is a big game for Bayern Munich.

SC Freiburg is not as strong as it was last season, but it does have mad scientist Christian Streich at the helm and the manager has show an innate ability to frustrate Bayern Munich.

Granted, Streich’s strategies [Editor’s note: Those should be called “Streichtegies”] do not work every time against Bayern Munich, but he has tossed enough confusion Bayern Munich’s way to make this match at least a little bit concerning.

Bayern Munich is the more talented, deeper, faster, and better squad (as they typically are) and need to shake off the doldrums of their midweek malaise (a 2-1 win over FC Copenhagen).

No one wants to end the last match before an international break with a loss — especially at home.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-1 SC Freiburg

Other Bundesliga predictions include:

  • Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 Mainz 05
  • FC Augsburg 2-1 SV Darmstadt 98
  • Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Union Berlin
  • RB Leipzig 3-0 VfL Bochum
  • VfB Stuttgart 2-2 VfL Wolfsburg
  • Werder Bremen 1-2 Hoffenheim
  • Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 FC Köln
  • Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Heidenheim

Prediction Records

  • Bundesliga Last Week: 5-4
  • Bundesliga Total: 25-20
  • DFB-Pokal Total: 1-0
  • Champions League Total: 2-0
  • DFL-Supercup: 0-1
  • Total: 33-25

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