As many of you may have gathered, I am a bartender by trade. My weekends, for the last couple of years, have been spent getting up at ungodly morning hours, sleep-deprived and loaded up with tons of coffee, opening up my local, The Lion and Eagle, for fun, frivolity and football every Saturday and Sunday.
The Premiership takes precedence, of course, for it is a British pub. But my Teutonic presence has turned a few heads to the joys of Bayern Munich, in particular, and to the Bundesliga, in general. When I’m not polling the regulars as to which squad has the worst hair in the Premiership- Everton, Arsenal and Newcastle being my rotating top three- I’m often asked about our last few results, where we are in the table, and, more recently, where do I think Bastian will end up?
Off the cuff, I always say we’re going to win the Bundesliga. And the replies are often groans of disbelief and phrases like, “Wait, how far back are you in the table?”
In 6th place, and 12 points back, thank you very much.
Not to discredit the clubs that are in 2nd through 5th places: Leverkusen, Mainz, Freiburg and Frankfurt, but the only squad we have to worry about is Dortmund. I’m of the mind that if Bayern can make up 5 or 6 points on the Bees before the winter break, we’ll be in prime position, with the majority of our personnel back (read: Arjen Robben), to come storming back through the second half, gleefully walloping opponents at will.
This is, however, dependent on a few things.
First and foremost is Dortmund’s schedule up to the break: Away to Freiburg, home to Moenchengladbach, away to Nuernberg, home to Bremen and away to Frankfurt. Looking at these matches, it’s tough to see Dortmund stumble, but I think the best chances are this weekend at Freiburg and the final weekend before the break at Frankfurt.
We’ve got a tougher time of it as we are away to Leverkusen, home to Frankfurt, away to Schalke, home to St. Pauli and away to Stuttgart. And all matches are must-win situations. A stumble, like the 3-3 unfortunate draw with Moenchengladbach, can not happen.
That being said, I’m most looking forward to the St. Pauli and Stuttgart games as I will be in the stands at the Allianz and Mercedes-Benz Arenas. Realistically, however, the match this weekend away to Leverkusen stands out as the most important of Bayern’s remaining ones up until the break.
Leverkusen welcomes back Rene Adler while die Roten are finally returning to full squad strength. Contento, van Bommel, Ribery and Breno are all back. And the scintillating form of Mario Gomez, Anatoliy Tymoschuk and my heart-of-hearts, Bastian Schweinsteiger has Munich beginning to resemble a champion side.
Which finally begs the question regarding Bastian…
I think he stays. While his wonderful midfield talent is much needed at Manchester United and, to a lesser extent, Chelsea; if rumors are to be believed (and I think in this case, they are), the bosses are going to be offering up a contract extension worth around 10 million Euro per season- putting him on par with (or a smidge above) the contracts of Ribery and Lahm. He has proved himself o be an indispensable talent to Louis van Gaal and Joachim Loew. The local boy stays local, I fervently hope.
When asked, by the pub regulars, if I would ever buy a Manchester United Schweinsteiger kit, my answer is something that I am not allowed to type here. In German or English.