Bundesliga Five Points: Bayern battles injury crisis; Hummels regains form
Bayern and injury issues
Optimizing recovery time in football is one of the last frontiers. The demands, the intensity and strain on players are all reasons for what seems to be an exponential increase in injuries. As research has shown, this is apparently completely avoidable. So what's happening at Bayern Munich? There isn't much to criticize the German champions for at the moment, but the consistent spate of injuries is an obvious concern. They were without seven key first-teamers on Saturday. Last season, Jürgen Klopp was pushed for reasons on why Borussia Dortmund suffered continuing fitness problems, so perhaps the same needs to be said for Pep Guardiola. Has the spat with long-term club doctor Müller-Wohlfahrt played a role? Whatever the reasons are, it might cost Bayern later in the season.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesAlexander Hassenstein
Support for Chicharito
The numbers are impressive regardless of how you quantify Javier Hernandez's impact at Bayer Leverkusen – a hat trick on Saturday; 15 goals in 12 games and seven of Leverkusen's last 10 strikes. Yet his efficacy in front of goal comes as little surprise given the number of chances created by his teammates. And that's the crux of the point: Chicharito isn't a link player; he's not going to be the fulcrum to bring others into the game. What he can do well is score goals, anticipate situations and feed off the scraps. The decision to play Hernandez with Stefan Kiessling as a front-two reaped its rewards for Leverkusen. Kiessling did the hard, dogged work, while Chicharito finished off as he does. Perhaps Roger Schmidt should think twice about going back to a system with just one man up front.
AFP/Getty ImagesPATRIK STOLLARZ
Who will take Kiessling in January?
If we learned anything from Saturday, it's that Stefan Kiessling is likely going to leave Bayer Leverkusen in January. The 31-year-old striker bagged an emphatic double and stayed out after the final whistle to hug supporters and join in on songs. And reports on Sunday in Germany say the striker will indeed move to another Bundesliga club next month. But to who? Half of the league would bite your hand off to have a goalscorer like Kiessling. With 138 Bundesliga goals, he is level with Mario Gomez in the all-time scorers chart. Given the low scoring rates of clubs in the bottom-half, Kiessling would be a logical move for several sides like Hamburg, Werder Bremen, Cologne and even Mainz. Proven scorers are hard to come by, so expect several suitors in January for the powerful talisman.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesLars Baron
The stock of Markus Weinzierl
Reputations can come and go in football very quickly. Having established Augsburg as a Bundesliga club, with modest resources, Markus Weinzierl was the name on everyone's lips. He apparently turned down the chance to take over at Schalke, while his name was linked with Stuttgart and Borussia Mönchengladbach. But with Augsburg sitting towards the bottom of the league – expected when you consider the over-performances of recent years – he perhaps saw his stock fall a little bit. His name has even been linked with Bayern Munich when Guardiola leaves. The win in Belgrade on Thursday means Augsburg are in the knockout stages, keeping the coach's reputation high even if Augsburg go on to be relegated. He has a contract in Augsburg until 2020, but what he does next will be fascinating to see.
Getty ImagesSrdjan Stevanovic
Hummels delivers for Dortmund
It's fair to say Mats Hummels' performances have been under the spotlight more than ever this season. After Dortmund's 3-1 loss at Hamburg, Hummels came under fierce criticism from the media, enough to prompt the German international to defend himself. But it looks like the defender has returned to form with an excellent performance against Frankfurt. Hummels was disciplined defensively, while showing his great playmaking skills on the ball. His defense-splitting pass created the first for Dortmund to level the scores. Concentration has been a problem for Hummels this season – and so has confidence in recent games. He said his confidence had taken a hit from the recent flack, but the manner of his dominant performance on Sunday, at least, shows that he's back in the right frame of mind.