FC Bayern München have started the defence of their Bundesliga title with two straight wins. All is good with the world. Uli Hoeneß has a dig at PSG, Niko Kovač is confident and content, and a hefty Bavarian contingent are set for the international break.
There are no Bundesliga fixtures this week, with it being the first international break of the season. Not that this means that we cannot have a healthy serving of Säbener Semmelschmarrn.
In this instalment we take a look at what has been going on off the pitch over the last week, as well as some gems dredged from the pool of Twitter tittle-tattle.
Uli sideswipes PSG
Club president Uli Hoeneß has had a fair bit to say over the last month or so. The German team’s failure in Russia. Transfer policy. Mesut Özil. This week, the target has been French pretenders Paris Saint-Germain.
Having secured the services of Juan Bernat with a 14 million Euro deal, les plasticiens parisiens had also starting sniffing around Jérôme Boateng and Renato Sanches. Earlier in the summer, it looked like Boateng was on his way out. Then, Niko Kovač made it clear that he wanted the defender to stay.
Bayern decided to call PSG’s bluff, raising the asking price to 50 million Euro. They then backed off.
With all the back and forth discussion, there was the distinct feeling that PSG were never really serious, and that they had been yanking Bayern’s chain the whole time. Sporting direction Hasan Salihamidžić then suggested that their tactics had been a bit “weird”.
Uli, however, decided to go that little but further, suggesting in his latest kicker interview that the French club should fire their sporting director Antero Henrique.
Uli Hoeneß on negotiations with PSG for Boateng: "I would advise Paris Saint-Germain to change their sporting director. this man is not a good figurehead for this club, and if they want to be a world class club, they cannot afford to have such a sporting director." [Kicker] pic.twitter.com/CmheGlbcYP
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 2, 2018
It was perhaps a silly thing to say, but Uli is Uli. If he feels he needs to say something, he will say it. PSG are unlikely to take Uli’s sage advice, of course. But we can be absolutely sure that Boateng is not leaving Bayern.
For now, anyway.
A dozen legionnaires
As usual, there are plenty of Bayern players on international duty over the next week. A round dozen, in fact. Seven of these are in Jogi Löw’s Germany squad: captain Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller, Niklas Süle and Leon Goretzka.
Having moved to Munich in the summer, Goretzka is in the national team Kader for the first time as a Bayern player.
Most of Bayern’s German contingent will be hoping to line up on their home turf, where die Nationalmannschaft open their UEFA Europa Nations League campaign against France before taking on Peru at the weekend in Sinsheim. For les Bleus, Corentin Tolisso will also be hoping for some game time against his club team mates.
With the German team hoping to put this summer’s disaster in Russia firmly behind them, the mood in the camp has been good. Among the Bayern players, there has been much frivolity. During the team’s training sessions, Twitter was awash with images of the players flicking each others’ ears, with Mats Hummels being the target and Thomas Müller the instigator.
Mats Hummels finally getting punished for missing those World Cup sitters. 🤐 pic.twitter.com/1eHRgmopK0
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) September 5, 2018
Perhaps all of those stories about Müller being some kind of big bad Bavarian bully are true…
Others will also be looking to put their poor World Cup behind them. Robert Lewandowski is expected to lead Poland against Italy and the Republic of Ireland, and Thiago Alcântara will hope to get some game time as Spain take on England World Cup runners-up Croatia.
Elsewhere, Austria’s David Alaba will be lining up against Sweden and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Renato Sanches is back in a Portugal squad that has matches against Croatia and Italy.
Coach Niko Kovač expressed his satisfaction after last weekend’s 3:0 win in Stuttgart, but there has been no let off for the remaining members of the Bayern squad.
While the dozen legionnaires are stationed elsewhere in Europe, it has been a case of back to the training ground for the rest.
— Home Bayern (@HomeBayern___) September 5, 2018
There has been plenty of hard work, but plenty of smiles too. Spirit appears to be excellent in Munich right now, and much of this contentment can be traced back to the new coach. A man of few words, Kovač has even managed to deal with a few moments of stroppiness from Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry.
The two veterans were slightly miffed to have been subbed off against Stuttgart, but were quick to suggest that this had nothing to do with the coach. The balance is just right. It shows that they are just as keen as anybody to get out there and play.
Kovač has not only made a good impression on the players, but on the bosses too. Right now, Uli and Kalle must be feeling pretty vindicated. It may take a little longer to win some of the more sceptical fans over, but there is lot less noise than there was a couple of months ago.
Earlier in the week, the Bayern players lined up for the annual photo shoot for sponsors Paulaner. Dressed in both their red Trikot and traditional Bavarian attire with glasses of chilled Weizenbier in hand, the squad were clearly in their element.
Paulaner Photoshoot 📷 🍻 pic.twitter.com/q1asCqIkaY
— Bavarian Tweets (@BavarianTweets) September 2, 2018
In previous shoots, the squad have been seen in traditional Bavarian chequered shirts, or differently styled jackets. This year, everybody was kitted out in a plain grey or grey-green Janker. Simple yet stylish, like the football we will hope to be seeing this season. Prost!
Elsewhere, there was an entertaining video created by The Players’ Tribune featuring Bayern and Germany team mates Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller. Mats mainly laughs along, while Tommy comes out with with a stream of anecdotes and general nonsense.
🇩🇪 ⚽️ @FCBayernUS and @DFB_Team_EN stars, @matshummels and @esmuellert_ share some hilarious and insightful anecdotes about their experiences as professional footballers, with @adidasfootball. ⚽️🇩🇪https://t.co/PlXDVoTIdZ
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) September 4, 2018
It is highly entertaining, and well worth a watch. If just to hear the story about a four-year-old Tommy and what he had to do with his favourite yellow plastic shovel.
Bis zum nächsten Mal! Servus!