Säbener Semmelschmarrn: A slightly bitter aftertaste

After last week’s warm serving of Säbener Semmelschmarrn, this week’s bowlful has a slightly bitter aftertaste. Bayern keep winning, but the injury list is stacking up again. Elsewhere, we have more Trikot talk, and why the players have become ordinary airline passengers.

Injury woes

Not a season goes by without Bayern having injury problems. I for one cannot remember the last time a Bayern coach had a full squad to choose from. The opening league match of the season saw Kingsley Coman consigned to the treatment table. Before last weekend’s match against Bayer Leverkusen, both Leon Goretzka and Mats Hummels were “rested”.

During what was an otherwise easy 3:1 win against the pharma boys, it was Niko Kovač who was left needing the Aspirin. When Corentin Tolisso was carried off shortly before half time, we were all hoping that it was a minor knock. It was later revealed to be an anterior cruciate ligament injury, one of the worst things that can happen to a professional footballer.

Tolisso will be out for at least six months, meaning that his season is already over. There will be some hard times to come, and we can only hope that he will come back stronger.

That was not the end of the story. Late in the second half, a criminally awful challenge by Karim Bellarabi resulted in Rafinha also being carried off. The Brazilian will be out for at least a couple of weeks, probably a month. As the season starts to warm up, this was the last thing we needed.

Squad issues

The long-term absence of Coman, Tolisso and Rafinha means that there are just nineteen fit players in the FC Bayern squad. With Goretzka struggling to be fully fit, it means that there are just eighteen available for the Benfica tie. When you leave out the two reserve goalkeepers, it leaves just sixteen outfield players.

For a long time, squad rotation has been a luxury. Should the injury list expand further, it could well become a necessity. There may well be a need to start drawing resources from the reserves.

At this point, one does have to wonder why the club were willing to let go of so many players during the summer. While Arturo Vidal wanted a change of scenery and Juan Bernat was falling short of the required standards, they were still options. Perhaps more inexplicable was the decision to release Sebastian Rudy.

But what’s done is done. The coach will need to rejig the squad, and some players may end up being fielded in unfamiliar positions. Thomas Müller at left-back? Do not rule it out.

Squabble gossip

Not a week goes by when there is not a story of a Bayern player being annoyed / upset / angry / disappointed / apoplectic at being left out of the starting lineup. Were it not for such stories, more than half of the football community would have nothing to talk about. Niko Kovač is the antithesis of FC Hollywood, yet there are some people out there who are determined to keep the myth alive.

This week, it was the turn of James Rodríguez. There is no actual evidence to suggest that the Colombian was actually upset, but we can be sure that he was advised completely by the coach beforehand. The willingness to talk with his players is something that Niko is exceptionally good at, and it is pretty obvious that he wanted to rest James for the Benfica tie.

As for Kovač’s man-management skills, he has received accolades from none other than Franck Ribéry, the closest thing Bayern has to an enfant terrible.

“Niko has the personality to train a big team. He has great qualities. You can see that from the way he leads us, the way he talks to us. He has analysed all the player personalities in the team, knows how they tick, what they need, and how he has to talk to them. That’s priceless.”

Now, if Niko can sit down and deal with feisty Frank, I am sure that James would have been more than happy with the situation when it was all explained to him.

Next week’s “breaking news”: Joshua Kimmich fed up with playing at right-back. Throws a strop and demands move to Manchester United.

We are red and white!

At the end of last season, there were some voices raised about the dark blue shorts being sported with the new red Trikot. I did not have too much of a problem with that. But then came the minty-green and dark lilac emsemble, which looks more like the livery of a Qatar Airways airliner.

The result has been the creation of a new fan group, Paragraf Eins (@Paragraf_1). The group takes its name from the first paragraph of the current club charter:

“The club bears the name “Fußball-Club Bayern München e.V.”, has its headquarters in Munich and is entered in the register of associations of the Munich Local Court. The club colours are red and white.”

Technically this is from the second paragraph of the original charter, but Paragraf Eins sounds a whole lot better.

There are plenty of “non-Bayern” designs that I have liked. But things have clearly gone a bit too far. Three new kits every season? Colours that have nothing to do with FC Bayern? Then, the cost. Over 300 Euro every year is no small sum.

The solution? A red home kit, with white trim. A white away kit, with red trim. A blue third kit with red/white trim. New designs would be released every two seasons, so that people have enough time to appreciate them without breaking the bank.

We all know that this will never happen. Commercialism is part of the game. But we can at least try.

Ordinary passengers

When FC Bayern dropped German national airline Lufthansa for Qatar Airways this spring, plenty of fans were a little annoyed. I was one of them. There may have been a strong financial and business argument, but the idea just rankled. Not forgetting that awful sleeve patch.

However, it turns out that there are practical issues too. Qatar Airways do not fly within Europe. This week, Bayern have to fly to Lisbon. They will then have to travel to both Athens and Amsterdam.

Up until last year, the players could just jump on a Lufthansa flight out of Munich. As per yesterday’s Bild, nothing has changed. Except for the fact that they will now be ordinary paying passengers. Well, not economy class like most of the rest of us, but you get the idea.

According to the sponsorship rules in place, the players cannot be seen in any photographs with the famous Lufthansa flying crane logo or yellow and blue livery. This be the same for every flight to Europe, and even within Germany. Unless they are told that they will have to travel to Berlin via Doha.

So no selfies in at check-in, folks. Doh!