Bundesliga is back in session…where is your hall-pass?
Fans of the Bundesliga enjoyed the summer break, but the weather is changing now. Leaves are beginning to collect on the ground. Teachers will soon be asking what we did with our summer.
Whichever way one decides to answer that question, take heed: Here are six things every Bundesliga fan ought not to report having done over the summer break:
6. Listening to the transfer rumor mill
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the case in point. He was the number one rumored transfer out since last spring. But the summer transfer window closed this past week and it now appears he will remain at Borussia Dortmund. The Gabon striker says he’s happy there as the club increasingly looks to be his own. So he will remain at BVB, ceteris paribus, at least until the holiday break. The late August loss of Ousmane Dembélé of course took the edge right off of any celebration in that regard for the Dortmund faithful. That and the fact that Aubameyang could be back on every rich club’s list as early as January. William Hill Football and Sky Bet will probably further their field days experienced this summer.
5. Spent time worrying about Joachim Löw’s job security
Germany’s Men’s team played in several tournaments this past summer, both as seniors and juniors. At times it was hard to tell where one squad ended and the other began. A good deal of the senior squad was, at times, very young and somewhat unknown to fans and many opponents as well no doubt. But the stream of trophies and World Cup Qualification wins continued thick and unabated. Not unlike the head man’s mop of hair.
4. Making reservations for the UCL Final match in Kiev
The UCL this time around looks a good deal more uncertain than it has in the past several years. Cristiano Ronaldo and holders, Real Madrid, do not look as formidable as they have in the past. That may be due in no small part to the dissolution that seems to be underway within the ranks of FC Barçelona, Real’s perennial nemesis. Like any hotly contested rivalry, the two sides have tended to feed off one another’s successes. As one starts to slip the other seems doomed to follow. Even still, the UCL looks to be a good deal more competitive this time around thanks to the developments at Paris Saint-Germain and the resurgence of the representatives from England’s Premier League. Picking a side from Manchester to be in Kiev next May is likely a much better bet than either one from Dortmund or Munich at this point.
3. Believing anyone who said, “Bundesliga is just Bayern”
Bayern have also seemed inevitable since the turn of the century. The club have won 11 Bundesliga titles since 2000. They are currently on a run of 5 straight championships under 3 different managers. Over this summer they acquired James Rodriguez on-loan from that same Real Madrid side we were just speaking of. Back then Real appeared to have an abundance of talent. James was part of a perceived “over-abundance”, so it was likely easy to imagine that his services would not be required for the two years of his pending absence. However, this season, Bayern may yet experience the issue facing Real Madrid to an even larger degree. One can say with confidence that as of yet, there isn’t a clear starting eleven at Bayern. Does James start instead of Robben (when he’s fit)? Or does Muller? True, the Bavarian giants have the kind of depth that most clubs can only dream of. But it’s also true that they may have overrun the team with options. The pecking order is still very muddy, and constant shifting of players will only hamper any consistency that the team is able to maintain on the field in terms of performance. Clubs with fewer stars and more recognizable divisions of labor—the likes of BVB, Leipzig, and even Schalke—may emerge as more able to compete given the regular pace and long term of the season.
2. Believing anyone who thinks “more is always better”
It is early days in that same season of course, but heading into Matchday 3, Bayern in particular, as noted, seem to have an over-abundance of their own. Even in the pre-James days, at times it appeared the Reds had too many striking options to choose from. The team is so over-charged that they too have loaned out players who, by rights, ought to represent their future; namely Serge Gnabry and Renato Sanches. Both of those are rising stars still somewhat in the rough. It is a questionable decision to now put them out of the system that they will be expected to perform in for the better part of their careers.
1. Daydreaming about perfect refereeing (with video assistance)
Perfection? Elevation to “uber-ref”? Not likely. But VAR is at least supposed to reduce the incidence of error and injustice in the run of play. To this point, the reviews of VAR both in and out of Bundesliga remain mixed. Ask the league and it’s all gone swimmingly. Ask some more “old school” assessors and it just doesn’t feel right. Either way, it is part of the recipe for this year’s Bundesliga. And the VAR system may yet have a say in the eventual outcome of the league and who takes the cake next spring.
Now…about that hall-pass…