It was quite the busy week for the top sides in Germany as league, cup and European competitions all took center stage before the international break. Plenty to take away from all the action of the past week as Bayern, Dortmund, Hoffenheim and Schalke all took 3 points this past week while Leipzig, Hertha and Borussia Monchengladbach took steps back in their charges for their respective goals. Meanwhile in the Pokal, Dortmund and Bayern set up a date in the semifinals for Germany’s cup all the while progressing through to the Quarterfinals of the Champions League. Credit to Schalke as well progressing to the Quarterfinals of the Europa League after their heated matchup with rivals Gladbach. These are my biggest takeaways from this past week in German football.
Bayern To 5 Peat
It’s not much of a surprise to see Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga and it isn’t much of a surprise that I’m calling an end to the Bundesliga title race with 9 games to go either. Bayern have been destroying the Bundesliga for the past 5 years with the closest race being Bayern winning the league by 10 points. Now after their grinding victory over a difficult Gladbach on the road at Borussia Park, it is evident that no one is going to stop Bayern from getting Carlo Ancelotti his first Bundesliga title. It’s difficult to stop the German champions at anytime but with the added motivation of it being Phillip Lahm’s and Xabi Alonso’s final years as professionals, it appears that Bayern will stop at nothing to lift the league title for a 5th consecutive season. Bayern’s performance this campaign has been attributed to the Leader of Men that is Captain Phillip Lahm. Throughout a season that saw Bayern take a while to get going under Ancelotti and witnessing Leipzig get off to their terrific start, the Super Germans turned to their quiet, ingenius commander to get Bayern going. The result of his leadership has been evident considering that Bayern haven’t dropped a single point in any competition in 6 games. Even more impressive? Bayern haven’t lost a single match in any competition since their humiliation at the hands of Rostov in November. This includes victories over Atletico, Leipzig, Arsenal (x2), Schalke and now Gladbach. Unstoppable.
Leipzig Will Sneak Into Champions League
All credit to the Bundesliga debutants on their brave, but early title push as Bayern has assumed their normal position atop the Bundesliga summit but there is still much to be gained from Leipzig this season. Now that their league title objective will surely fall short, they must look towards their other three objectives, one of which doesn’t involve the pitch. The first objective is the obvious for such a young club (both in age of the club itself and the age of the players). When you’re as young as a club like Leipzig the number one mission is to always keep improving. To continue improving the game of the youngsters who put them in these positions such as Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg and Naby Keita (who fortunately was released from hospital Monday after collapsing on the field last week. The second objective is to make the Champions League and I believe that Leipzig will accomplish this. It’s been difficult for Leipzig lately after dropping their last 2 games and have been unable to win in their last 3. All the while, Dortmund and Hoffenheim are quickly making up the ground on them. There is no doubt in my mind that Dortmund will leapfrog Leipzig and reclaim the Salutatorian position of Germany, and I also believe that Hoffenheim will jump Leipzig for 3rd but that will be the extent of their fall. Leipzig will take 4th and a playoff spot in the Champions League. It’s been a grueling season for Europe’s most unpopular fairy tale but the Red Bulls are a very talented side and I’m looking forward to seeing the young talent of the East German side, apply their trade to the rest of Europe, (and further shoot up their value before Bayern or Dortmund purchase them dry).
Who Will Step Up After Bayern’s Summer Exodus?
Although Carlo Ancelotti is enjoying a successful first season in Bavaria where he has his club primed for a treble fun in the final couple of months, there are still quite a few clouds hanging over the Allianz. Captain Phillip Lahm and midfield leader Xabi Alonso have already announced their impending retirements and both Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich are threatening moves to both sides of Manchester. AND behind all of these scenes happening in Munich, Barcelona plot a big move to bring Bayern’s best player back to the Nou Camp and that’s Thiago Alcantara. Who will leave the Allianz in the summer and who will replace them? There have been plenty of reports regarding all these players but this is the truth: Lahm and Alonso are going, that’s no doubt, they have a desire to finish their careers. But Kimmich, Muller and Thiago will not leave the Allianz this summer and here’s why. Joshua Kimmich has already been named Lahm’s successor. This does not necessarily mean that he’ll take over Right Back for Lahm. No way. Kimmich is way too good to be buried at Right Back. No sir. Kimmich will be the successor for both Lahm and Alonso as the new holding midfielder for Bayern and the smartest and most flexible player on the pitch. Kimmich can defend, be slotted into any spot on the back line, all the while having the ability to control a match from the middle of the field and being able to deliver a knifing pass into the path of Lewandowski or Robben. While Kimmich gets slotted into the midfield, it will be Rafinha who is the true heir to the Right Back position. There is no way Thiago will leave Bayern now considering that he is one of the first names on Ancelotti’s team sheet now a days and Barcelona’s midfield is much too crowded. What is to gain for a return move to the Nou Camp for Thiago? His El Clasico is right here, to be fought in Germany. The glory that the Spaniard so desperately desires is to be taken in Bavaria not in Catalonia. Thiago is new architect for every attack that Bayern puts on and Carlo Ancelotti wouldn’t have it any other way at the moment. Now what of Thomas Muller? He’s no heir like Kimmich, and he isn’t the new super playmaker like Thiago. Muller is in the prime of his career and finds himself on the bench often these days. Why would he not leave Munich? Because this club means way too much to him. Thomas Muller is a man who breathes Germany and Bayern. He would never leave his homeland and he’d never leave his beloved club. The fact of the matter is that Muller may be seeing limited playing time, but he is still seeing plenty of the pitch and he’s using that time to his advantage as evident by the 10 assists he’s wracked up this season. He’s too much of a talent to be left off the pitch and there are plenty of openings coming up for the club with coming exits of their veterans. Not to mention that Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are rising up in age as well and they are two players who often block Muller out of the team sheet. Muller is only 27 and still has plenty of time with Bayern, he should see his playing time go up as he continues on with the Ancelotti Administration.