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Weekend Warm-up: Leon Goretzka emerging as big key to Bayern Munich’s success this season; Bundesliga predictions; How Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia slipped away from Bayern once before; Throwing it back to Blur; and MORE!

Bayern Munich travels to FC Köln...are they ready?

Austria v Germany - International Friendly Photo by Stefan Matzke - sampics/Corbis via Getty Images

Entering the season, Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka looked like he was on the road to becoming an afterthought under coach Thomas Tuchel.

Somehow, the Germany international found himself behind newcomer Konrad Laimer on the squad’s depth chart in the central midfield and it looked like Tuchel had moved on from the thoughts of a double-pivot that would include Joshua Kimmich and Goretzka.

Now, things have changed.

Goretzka, despite being the favorite target of many Bayern Munich fans, has become an integral piece to the team once more. Battling through injuries, shifting his position around to wherever the team needs him at a given moment, and just putting together a string of solid performances has the 28-year-old back in Tuchel’s good graces — at least for now.

For Goretzka, his current position within the squad is where he wants to be — playing a vital role in the team’s hope to win multiple trophies. If that means he has to take some hits from Tuchel along the way, then so be it.

“The coach has the right to express praise and criticism. I have and had no problem with that and said early on that I felt comfortable at FC Bayern and wanted to do my part to ensure that we played successfully and won titles,” Goretzka told Abendzeitung’s Maximilian Koch (as captured by @iMiaSanMia).

As for Tuchel, it seems that he might have come around a bit on Goretzka as well. However, with Tuchel’s “flying fickle finger of fate” always on the starting XI, it is tough to discern just how fleeting his praise of Goretzka is.

“We are very happy with him. He was in pain, but still gritted his teeth and played with a broken hand. It was impressive how he put himself into the service of the team. He has found a good position on the half-left side, where he plays between the No. 10 and the No. 6. There were discussions about him, but he persevered, kept his head up and has now found his form. I hope he proves that again (FC Köln),” Tuchel said (as captured by @iMiaSanMia).

The elephant in the room, of course, is Tuchel’s not-so-secret-desire to bring in a defensive midfielder in January. That kind of move would certainly impact Goretzka — and Kimmich — but it appears that everyone will just cross that bridge when they get to it.

Whatever ultimately happens with Goretzka, the Germany international is focused on the task at hand.

“We’ve had a great run in the Champions League so far, which will hopefully end at Wembley in the final in 2024. As FC Bayern we had good experiences at Wembley. And I would also be very happy for Harry Kane,” Goretzka noted.


Bavarian Podcast Works — Weekend Warm-up Podcast: Season 3, Episode 20

What a mess of an international break that way.

Germany is a disaster under Julian Nagelsmann, but at least Bayern Munich is coming back this weekend. Given all of that, there is plenty to talk about, so let’s get to it. Here is what is on tap for this week’s episode:

  • Assessing why Germany is a clown show these days (Hint: The answer is pretty simple).
  • Looking at why Julian Nagelsmann cannot help himself and is proving all of his critics right.
  • Break out the torch, it is time to light some folks up.
  • A preview for Bayern Munich vs. FC Köln.
  • Transfer rumors on Bayern Munich stars Thomas Müller and Leroy Sané.
  • What to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season.

Song of the Week: “Girls & Boys” by Blur

Released in 1994 (gah!), Blur’s “Girls & Boys” transported some 80s Nu-Wave sound directly into the era of grunge. In some ways, Blur’s sound (along with many other bands) helped start to ease the transition to alternative rock and radio stations committing to the genre.

It was an odd time in music. Grunge was starting to fade, heavy metal was firmly on its way out the door, hair bands were dying off in numbers. Rap, R&B, jam bands, and alt rock were all emerging and beginning to divide the genres even further than before.

This became a problem for radio stations, who just couldn’t figure out how to organize a playlist that might have to include Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, and maybe something like “Girls & Boys” from Blur.

You can see why things started to divide. Anyway, enjoy, “Girls & Boys”:


Checking in on those Kvaratskhelia rumors — and how he slipped away from Bayern once before

There was a little bit of a buzz when stories broke this week that Bayern Munich might have interest in Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Sport Bild’s Tobi Altschäffl added some context as to what might — or might not — be going on (as captured by @iMiaSanMia):

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was a guest at Bayern as a youth player. He spent three days in Munich back then and toured the FCB Campus. Bayern, through Marco Neppe, were very interested in signing Kvaratskhelia at the time, but the move ultimately fell through due to eligibility issues as a Georgian player. As for the recent rumours, Bayern are currently not looking to sign Kvaratskhelia.

With Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry, and Kingsley Coman all on the roster and looking stable (at least for now), it seems unlikely that the Bavarians would consider dropping upwards of nine-figures for a player — even a dynamic one — that was not exactly in a position of need.


Predictions

With so many players representing their respective countries, Bayern Munich is likely weary, tired, beat up, and genuinely in need of some rest.

What better way to help that situation than to have them play on Friday night on the week where an international break ends. Surely, there are red flags heading into the Bundesliga showdown with FC Köln, but this Bayern Munich team is too good to fall into the trap set by the DFL.

It will not always look pretty, but the Bavarians will pick up the win.

Prediction: FC Köln 0-3 Bayern Munich

Other Bundesliga predictions include:

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

Prediction Records

  • Bundesliga Last Active Week: 3-6
  • Bundesliga Total: 46-44
  • DFB-Pokal Total: 1-1
  • Champions League Total: 4-0
  • DFL-Supercup: 0-1
  • Total: 51-46

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