After a strange and rather uninspiring international break, it is time to return to domestic action. The Bundesliga is back! After the blowout in Leipzig that saw FC Bayern’s good run of results come to an end, the Bavarians again have a chance to wrap up a sixth successive Bundesliga crown against erstwhile rivals Borussia Dortmund.
It was a pretty odd week surveying the international scene. For me, that is following Germany and going through the gears on my Schwarz und Weiß website. After the occasional post over the winter, close to half a dozen were churned out within the space of a week.
Mannschaft hits and misses
The reigning world champions were up against European rivals Spain and World Cup victims Brazil, two prestige friendlies that should have knocked everybody’s socks off. The match against La Furia Roja was a curious one, packed with quality but worthy of a couple more goals. The second match again Brazil, meanwhile, was the polar opposite of when the two sides last met in Belo Horizonte in 2014.
For Bayern fans following the Mannschaft, it was a mixed bag.
Against Spain, Thomas Müller scored his first international goal in almost a year, and a cracker it was too. Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich all made the starting back four. Sadly, Hummels looked as though he didn’t want to be out there at times. Just dragging his feet like he did last week against Leipzig.
Against A Seleção, Boateng joined the long list of Bayern players who have worn the German captain’s armband, when he led the team out in his home city of Berlin. That was about it really. Niklas Süle came off the bench and made one fantastic tackle, but Kimmich was ordinary, Sandro Wagner keen yet clumsy, and Munich-bound Leon Goretzka completely anonymous.
Bayern had a chance of sealing the domestic deal last week, but knew they would have to wait at least one week more when second-placed Schalke 04 grabbed a late win in Wolfsburg. The Sunday evening match in Leipzig was far from last season’s exciting nine-goal thriller, as Ralph Hasenhüttl’s team came from behind to claim the points.
It was Bayern’s weakest display of the season, and it could not have come at a worse time. The last game before the international break, and before everybody turns into the final dash down the home straight.
So it is a case of trying again, this time against Dortmund at the Allianz Arena. The calculations are just like they were a fortnight ago. If Schalke fail to win at home to strugglers SC Freiburg and Bayern take all three points against Dortmund, the Bavarians will win the title with six matches to spare.
Bayern versus Dortmund is always going to be a big game, but I am ignoring it being inevitably described as a Klassiker. The Ruhr outfit have been pretty poor this season all told, and I’ll be blunt in saying that they are really not worthy of the hype. This time around, it is more of a non-Klassiker.
If both Bayern and Schalke maximise their returns, the men from Munich will only need a point against neighbours Augsburg on the following weekend to clinch the title.
First big test
Having scored an unanswered five goals against Beşiktaş J.K. in the first leg of their previous Champions League knockout tie, the second meeting in Istanbul was always going to be a stroll. Bayern were far from brilliant but did enough to score another three goals at the cost of just one. There were some shaky moments, however. Nothing to worry about in the context of the tie, but potential warning signs of what may be waiting around the corner against sharper opponents.
The quarter-final draw was kind to the German champions, and Die Roten have avoided all of the big guns. Underrated Spanish outfit Sevilla FC would execute the perfect professional plan to dump Manchester United out of the tournament, but Bayern should have enough in the locker to make it into the last four.
This new La Liga opponent will / should / has to arguably be the first big test for Jupp Heynckes’ men, in what has been a fairly sedate season. That said, I said pretty much the same thing about Beşiktaş.
The post-Jupp world: part 34532
I have decided to avoid wading too deeply into the post-Jupp coaching discussion, but it is hard to avoid some of the stories doing the rounds. According to some reports, Thomas Tuchel is on his way to Arsenal. Or not. Elsewhere, the oft-repeated names have been supplemented by new ones.
Following the 2:1 defeat in Leipzig, Ralph Hasenhüttl got a big mention. Despite having a poor season with TSG Hoffenheim, Julian Nagelsmann is still a potential candidate. Then there is another young coach in former Bayern man Niko Kovač, who has admittedly done a fine job with Eintracht Frankfurt. While not necessarily being suitable for one reason or another, these three are at least realistic options.
Then we have other names being thrown into this gossipy gloop, like Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte, Lucien Favre, Jürgen Klopp and Joachim Löw. Do we want another Italian, not long after the last one? Probably not. Favre? A decent enough coach, but a bit of a journeyman. (If you have coached Hertha BSC, then you are officially a journeyman). Klopp? A nice enough guy, but too much of a Dortmund fan for most Bavarian tastes.
Many are looking at Jogi Löw as a genuine option when he is arguably the most ridiculous suggestion of them all. First up, he is a nurturer. A builder. Perfect for the national setup. Then there are the practical issues. Most contracts are drawn up at the beginning of July, with pre-season preparation starting almost immediately. The Maharishi Jogi, we all hope, will be having other things to think about in early July. Before wanting to wind down for the remainder of the summer after winning the World Cup.
Goodbye to the grey
At long last, it is happening. After more than a decade sharing the Allianz Arena with TSV 1859+1 München and having to put up with those insipid grey seats, FC Bayern fans will get to experience something a little more suitable next season.
The grey is out, and the Rot-Weiß is in. Or is that Weiß-Rot? The tweets have gone out and there have been plenty of shouts of approval. Compared to what we have now, the colour scheme that is currently floating around the social media space is a whole lot better.
But. Yes, there is a but. Look at the proposed colours again, and take a step back. Then look again. Am I the only Bayern fan to think that the red and white, or rather the white with a central white stripe, looks a bit like the home Trikot sported by VfB Stuttgart?
I am also hearing that the white is, in fact, a pale grey. Which would make it looks like a washed-out VfB Trikot. Like everything else, I think it is another case of waiting and seeing…