Weekend Warm-up: Can Julian Nagelsmann keep his Bayern Munich squad happy?; Checking out The War on Drugs; Bundesliga predictions; Talking House of the Dragon, Rings of Power, Cobra Kai; and MORE!

It was bound to happen.

As Sport1’s Kerry Hau reported on Thursday night, several Bayern Munich players are growing unhappy with their playing time, their role, or both. If true, this could be a test — or at least a mild headache — for Julian Nagelsmann.

With a squad this deep and talented, there was going to come a point where some players were going to get frustrated — most people just didn’t think it would happen this soon. Let’s take a look at what’s going on by position group:

Attack

With eight players (realistically six major contenders) for four starting roles, this could be an ongoing issue. Thomas Müller and Sadio Mané appear to be shoo-ins for starting positions each and every game. From there, however, it gets a bit murky on the final two spots.

Jamal Musiala has been the best of the lot so far this season, but Leroy Sané, Kingsley Coman, and Serge Gnabry have all taken turns being great at one point or another. Coman, though, has been the least productive (in terms of stats), even is he is the most disruptive.

Mathys Tel is a glorified apprentice at this stage and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is simply a back-up.

With the high profile of the top six players for those four starting spots, though, it is easy to see that there will be two unhappy players just about every game. In Hau’s report, Musiala and Gnabry were specifically mentioned as not exactly being thrilled after Bayern Munich’s match against Inter Milan.

Midfield

This position group is a little more simple — but is not any less of a potential headache. Right now, Joshua Kimmich and Marcel Sabitzer have been about as a good a pairing as there has been in Europe this season. Good…right?

Well, Leon Goretzka detailed that he wants to take his starting role back and Ryan Gravenberch might also be growing restless per Sport1. With less spots to deal with, rotating won’t help things all that much for Nagelsmann — especially because Kimmich is not really a guy who likes to sit out…ever.

Kimmich, though, maintains great chemistry with both Sabitzer and Goretzka, but his role when paired with each player differs. With Sabitzer, Kimmich becomes the midfielder who can bomb forward and get into every play. With Goretzka, it is more of a balance on who fills that role — sometimes leaving the backline exposed because both players push into the box.

As for Gravenberch? I’m not sure what he expected when inking his deal. Playing time will be difficult to find, specially with Sabitzer’s resurgence.

Defense

As of now the outside-back positions are on lockdown with Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies entrenched as starters. Pavard might be the best of all of the defenders so far this season and Davies has been decent as well. While Pavard might want to transition to center-back, it is clear that he is a starter at right-back and far ahead of Ajax transfer Noussair Mazraoui at this stage. Davies has to fend off Josip Stanišić (who can play any position on the backline), but he is far clear of the Croatian at this stage. You could argue, however, that both Mazraoui and Stanišić would start on many, many other teams in Europe right now.

At center-back, it gets a little more complicated. Lucas Hernandez and Matthijs de Ligt have performed the best so far, but Dayot Upamecano is not too far behind. For this season, a three-man rotation could work wonders, though it remains to be seen how any one of the three would handle not being an anointed starter entering 2023/24.

The central defense situation could becomes even harder to manage if Pavard pushes to abandon his spot at right-back and force a move to center-back.

Overall

Some will doubt Hau’s report, but he has been very good for Sport1 and extremely reliable in most cases. While it is possible that that he is reading too much into what he saw, this is not exactly the type of story a player would go on the record with at this stage.

Whatever the case, Nagelsmann’s issues in managing this roster can be solved with smart rotations, using all of his allotted substitutions, communication, and consistent interaction with his players.

One of the only majorly concerning things from the report was Nagelsmann’s reluctance to discuss individual player situations after he makes a decision on who will play. While the report did not dive deeply into that topic, the coach did not see the purpose of holding talks with anyone after a decision has been made.

Indeed, Nagelsmann’s player management skills are going to be tested, but this is all part of the job now — and there is no reason to think that the manager will not be able to eventually get a grasp on how to handle all of this.


Bavarian Podcast Works: Weekend Warm-up — Season 2, Episode 10

Bayern Munich pulled out a nice victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League after a disappointing showing against Union Berlin in the Bundesliga last weekend.

While Julian Nagelsmann as done a good job of managing his personnel, the recent lack of precision, efficiency, and synchronicity on offense has some fans mildly concerned.

Like always, there is plenty to talk about — including those issues listed above. Let’s take a look at what we have on tap for this week’s episode:

  • Why coaching is getting more difficult every year (as Thomas Tuchel and Domenico Tedesco found out — and as Jürgen Klopp might soon learn). Also, did we mention there are some unhappy players at Bayern Munich now?
  • The FC Barcelona is going to tell us a lot about where Bayern Munich is at this stage.
  • Matthijs de Ligt and Lucas Hernandez look great together.
  • The midfield conundrum…Leon Goretzka wants to start, but Marcel Sabitzer has been great? What will happen there.
  • Bayern Munich and Harry Kane might really be interested in forging a relationship in 2023.

Song of the Week: “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” by The War on Drugs

I can’t put my finger on it, but I think you could drop this song back into 1986 or 1987 and it would be a perfect fit.

This was only released about a year ago, but it so perfectly captures the 80s vibe that it catches by attention every time I hear it. Something fascinating about how and when this was recorded is that it took seven studios and three years to put it all together…which is amazing.

Every now and again, I’ll find a song that captures the sounds or feel of a different era and it just stops me in my tracks. This is one of those songs. Enjoy:


Entertainment Rundown

House of the Dragon

As previously stated, I’m giving this a chance and, honestly, I’m liking the storyline enough for the show to keep me coming back. The problem, however, is that the rapid time jumps are taking away from the nuances of the story. I’m typically not someone who minds a time jump or can’t handle processing it, but this is jumping a little too much for my liking. All that said, I’m still in and it has been good so far. Here are some quick hitters:

  • One of the time jump issues is that I wanted to see a little more of how the Crabfeeder was actually staving off an army of dragons and warriors…for three years. This part of the story made zero sense, especially given the time hop. It took these great warriors to come up with that plan?
  • Daemon Targaryen is still, by far, the show’s best character and the most interesting one as well. His solo mission tested the boundaries of believe-ability (even in a fantasy show), but it was bad ass. It is weird, however, to see a character be able to do that type of thing in a Game of Thrones story. One of the great aspects of the old series was that this sort of thing would never happen. If an important character was in this predicament, that character would like have died…or at least suffered bad injuries.
  • I will say, if you completely suspend your belief (yes, even in a fantasy show), that scene was fun in some ways, but it (again) rushed the climax of a storyline that seemed like it needed more build up.
  • The political posturing has become a bit tiresome already, but it is vital to where the story is going, I suppose.
  • Another time hop: How did King Viserys go from getting treatment for an unknown disease and looking like crap to being “better” after the time jump? Is he still sick?
  • There are some weak parts to the storyline, but it is probably hard as hell to write cohesively when you need to cram so much into a short amount of time.
  • I want to stay onboard (and I will), but a lot of things need to be tightened up.

Cobra Kai

Ah…yes. The new season of Cobra Kai is out and I’ll be diving into that this weekend a bit…will you?

Rings of Power

Given the quality of programming out there, I cannot keep up with it all, so I’ve outsourced Rings of Power to zippy, who did a good job on giving his takes on the series so far. Here you go:

I’m diving into Amazon’s The Rings of Power, the first two episodes of which dropped last week. Spoiler-free until the bullet points:

Where I’m coming from: I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, which were compelling if imperfect, but I was seriously bummed by The Hobbit. I read The Silmarillion long ago, but many things that should not have been forgotten are lost now for me to the sands of time. That said, I was eager to dive back into a big budget, small-screen adaptation of Tolkien’s richly-woven Middle Earth — especially hitherto unexplored corners of it — and so far, I’m not disappointed. Now for my thoughts. Spoilers below, so hold off if you haven’t watched!

  • I like the choice of story. In depicting the close of the Second Age and Sauron’s return through the forging of the rings, it’s a timely rumination on the perils of resting on laurels. Past battles are won, complacency has set in among the Elves, but wickedness does not sleep.
  • The story is centering around two elves who are pushing back against the tide within their societies: Galadriel, whom we know, and Arondir, a new character for the show. Galadriel is in Lindon, leading a search for Sauron in which nobody believes, and Arondir is in the East, though his company of watch-keeping elves are about to withdraw now that the danger is over. Both are perfectly cast.
  • Elrond’s here, too, played by Young Ned Stark (great scene that was). He’s got some involvement with Celebrimbor’s project to forge the three rings, which isn’t quite as interesting to me yet, even if it is the titular storyline.
  • Hobbits! There’s a whole village of nomadic hobbits, too — would it be Tolkien without them? — and Nori, the adventurous one, is another protagonist. She’s stumbled upon a mysterious man who landed in a meteor, which is the burning question right now.
  • So, who is the mystery stranger? I had thought it must be Gandalf, but the Tolkien experts on the internet tell me that the Istari didn’t arrive until the Third Age. Sauron, then? Tom Bombadil? He doesn’t seem sinister, but then killed a bunch of fireflies — maybe inadvertently.
  • I am looking forward to a corporeal Sauron — disarming, charming, and sly, rather than a symbolic glowing eye. How do we let evil gain a foothold? How well or poorly the show answers that question will define it for me.

Bavarian Podcast Works: Preview Show — Bayern Munich vs. VfB Stuttgart (Bundesliga)

Bayern Munich is coming off of consecutive draws in the Bundesliga (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Union Berlin) and is facing another team, who will likely be happy to pack eight or nine players into the box in hopes of squeezing out a point on the road — VfB Stuttgart.

Sitting in third place, Bayern Munich will have to find a way to break through offensively, but a lot will depend on who Julian Nagelsmann rolls out as part of his starting XI. Let take a look at what we have on tap for this episode:

  • VfB Stuttgart’s recent form and why Bayern Munich fans should keep an eye on Borna Sosa and Konstantinos Mavropanos
  • A quick discussion Bayern Munich’s struggles in its past two league games.
  • Some thoughts on who Nagelsmann might start — and why.
  • A call for Sadio Mané to take a rest.
  • A prediction on the match.

Predictions

This match could be ugly if VfB Stuttgart plays for a draw. Bayern Munich is more talented and far better, but this is another “trap” game where the Bavarians absolutely need to avoid looking ahead at next week’s Champions League match against FC Barcelona.

I’ll be optimistic.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-0 VfB Stuttgart

Other Bundesliga predictions include:

  • Werder Bremen 2-1 FC Augsburg
  • Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2 Wolfsburg
  • Hertha Berlin 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
  • Hoffenheim 1-1 Mainz 05
  • RB Leipzig 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
  • Schalke 04 3-1 VfL Bochum
  • FC Köln 1-2 Union Berlin
  • SC Freiburg 2-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Champions League Prediction

I don’t know why, but I was far more confident about this match like three weeks ago. I still think Bayern Munich is poised to win, but the squad could have its hands full in dealing with former teammate Robert Lewandowski. I think both sides will be amped up for this match and it could be a battle. Let’s say Bayern Munich gets the win, but it will not be easy.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 FC Barcelona.


Prediction Records

F last week…

  • Last week’s overall record: 3-7
  • Overall Bundesliga record: 20-25
  • DFL-Supercup record: 1-0
  • DFB-Pokal record: 1-0
  • Champions League record: 1-0
  • WWU overall record: 23-25
  • Guest predictions: 7-2

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Weekend Warm-up: Can Julian Nagelsmann keep his Bayern Munich squad happy?; Checking out The War on Drugs; Bundesliga predictions; Talking House of the Dragon, Rings of Power, Cobra Kai; and MORE!

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