Donnerstag, 19. August 2010

Three cups and a curtain raiser

Yes, it’s no typo. Cups – plural. I already hinted at the fantastic Supercup last time, but there were two more to play for: the ginormous Franz-Beckenbauer-Cup (bonus question: which enormous aspect of Big Franz’ personality does this trophy represent?) and, of course, the German Cup. Well, you choose your priorities…

Just a few quick words about the Supercup, where Bayern played supposedly big rival Schalke – with their latest big transfer Raúl (yes, as in Real Madrid’s Raúl). To be honest, I wouldn’t have been to surprised to lose this one, as our World Cup players had just come back from their holidays and Schalke had a more or less unperturbed pre-season. But, alas, the boys in Red pulled off a decent performance and Schalke did not really stand a chance against what could in all honesty be called Bayern’s B-outfit. Predictably, Felix Magath had another sourly dig at his club’s apparent unwillingness to spend big – something he seems not to grow tired of... Well, let’s see what happens when they start losing in really meaningful competitions.

The next cup was bigger in all manner of senses. As I already pointed out, the trophy itself must have been designed by a guy with serious doubts about his manhood, but the opposition also seemed bigger: Real Madrid. Sounds good, and if Mourinho can really pull off a true magic trick and teach them how to defend, they might actually do really well this year. Again, a decisive loss or something like that would have been no surprise to me, but, again, the lads dominated most of the game, and van Gaal even managed to do his usual stuff and throw in a pretty much unknown young player named Jüllich, who did a great job against Christiano Ronaldo, no less. Well, in the end the Red lost on penalties, but witnessing the trouble the Real players were having when lifting the trophy, it was probably for the best of the boys’ health…

And, to round this cup-madness of with a serious competition, there was also the German Cup with its usual first-round-romance of underdog against the big guns. So Bayern vs. fifth-league Germania Windeck it was. And yes, they were taking it seriously, of course, because if you don’t you’re out, and the cup has its own rules, of course, and so on and so forth… And to be honest, on one or two occasions it looked as if the part-timers could really be some sort of trouble, but then Bayern pulled it together and did the business – not in particular style, but even shortly after the match, no one really cared. Windeck were happy because of the big gate (they had even moved to Cologne’s big stadium) and Bayern were happy to be in the next round and evaded another Vestenbergsgreuth.

After these three cups, we’re getting even more serious: the curtain-raiser to the new season against Wolfsburg, who played in the opener one year ago – as defending champions, would you believe it? Anyway, it’s the first match of the season, it’s serious and everyone’s expecting Bayern to win, which is not so interesting, because it’s what Bayern usually get. But there was a World Cup, important players are injured (Robben, Olic) or still a bit tired (all the internationals), and (argh!) we haven’t had any prominent multi-million transfers so far. The last bit sounds a bit unreal, but it truly is the case. But apparently, there was no need to, says our manager – and I’m inclined to believe him. Ok, Diego Contento at left back still looks a tad shaky, but then again, there were much bigger doubts before the last season, and in the end, that one didn’t turn out too bad, did it?

Maybe a word or two about the opposition: It’s incredible to see how they quickly rose to the top from being probably one of the greyest teams in the league and how determined they are to go back down just as quickly. What opposing teams at the start of the season usually have going for them against Bayern is the fact that there are many new players who haven’t really had the chance to create a certain chemistry between them. Or maybe there’s been a major tournament and – well, you know the rest of the story. Well, it’s a bit different this time. New players: not really (maybe you want to count Toni Kroos); ok, tournament: tick, but from what I can tell, it hasn’t seemed to have affected the players too much.

Admittedly, a curtain-raiser is always hard to predict and I’m usually not particularly optimistic, but even I’m expecting a win from this one – maybe not very glamorous one with an awful lot of goals, but a win nonetheless.

Anyway, it’s good to have proper football back. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the World Cup or the Euro, but after losing to Spain and seeing many people quite upset, a friend of mine turned to me and said: “Hey, imagine that happening to Bayern...” Exactly. So let’s look forward to real, heartfelt excitement.

Let the games begin!

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