Bundesliga Betting: How much will Xabi Alonso help Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich's Xabi Alonso runs with the ball during their German first division Bundesliga soccer match against Schalke 04 in GelsenkirchenBayern Munich is off to a pretty strong start this season in Bundesliga play. They currently lead the league with 17 points – four points more than anybody else – and haven’t lost a match yet. Still, everybody can improve, even Bayern Munich.

This brings us to Xabi Alonso. who was a last-minute signing at the end of August. At 32 years old, the midfielder came on to this team with excellent credentials, including being a World Cup champion, two-time European champ and Champions League victor. Judging from his six appearances for Bayern so far, this guy can still play. But just how much can the defending Bundesliga champions expect from Alonso throughout the season and beyond?

Inevitably, many comparisons will go directly to Toni Kroos, who transferred from Bayern Munich to Alonso’s old team, Real Madrid, this summer. They both play a similar role on the pitch, however, Kroos is eight years younger and will be a star for years to come. So Alonso is not really looked at as a long-term solution for Bayern’s midfield. Instead, his role is as a more-than-adequate fill-in for Thiago Alcantara and Bastian Schweinsteiger, both of whom have been dealing with knee injuries.

Alonso will also be important because Bayern needs another good midfielder until Pierre Hojbjerg and Gianluca Gaudino develop more. The youngsters are expected to be good, but they’ll need at least a couple more years of seasoning before playing serious Bundesliga minutes. This makes Alonso perfect because he signed a two-year deal with the Munich club.

xabi-alonso-bayern-munich-1The Spaniard has performed quite well so far at an age when many players are declining. According to Kicker’s player ratings, Alonso has been the second-best player for Bayern and the 12th best in Bundesliga. So he’s proving to be more than just an aging fill-in, but rather a player who can sometimes star in ultra-competitive league play.

Still, this is likely the last hurrah for Alonso since he’ll be turning 33 in November and was already phased out of Real Madrid’s plans last season. He’s never been great defensively and this won’t improve with aging legs either. He’ll probably struggle in a regular role as the season wears on, until Thiago and Schweinsteiger recover and can rotate in.

Switching back to the positive, Alonso is excellent at distributing the ball and this will be crucial to Bayern’s attack. And if there’s one area where he’s actually better than Kroos, it is leadership. This is extremely important to a club that could use some leadership for players like Hojbjerg and Gaudino.

Ex-German World Cup Member Tim Wiese snubbed due to Bodybuilding Physique

tim-wiese-bodybuilderFour years ago, Tim Wiese was a member of Germany’s 2010 World Cup squad, which finished third place. Fast-forward to now and Wiese has a better shot at becoming the next Mr. Olympia than he does of ever playing for the German national team again.

The 32-year-old recently became something of a punchline in the soccer community after getting involved a little too deeply in bodybuilding. Most fans wouldn’t even recognize the former Hoffenheim goalie these days because he’s packed on so much muscle. And while many would say that he has a fantastic physique, it’s far from the slim, athletic build that most top-level goalies have.

Wiese once joked during the transformation that he’d “soon be so wide the ball cannot go past.” Well he’s definitely come close to this goal, but it doesn’t look to land him a professional soccer contract any time soon. In fact, Wiese’s muscular explosion was the final straw for Hoffenheim as they released the veteran goalkeeper this year.

Why did Wiese bulk up so Much?

Anybody who’s really into Bundesliga betting may remember how TSG 1899 Hoffenheim was expected to be one of the league’s more competitive teams in the 2012-2013 season. However, they finished with an 8-19-7 record (W-L-D) and 31 points, which placed them 16th out of 18 teams in the Bundesliga standings.

Besides their actual record, one of the biggest disappointments from the 2012-13 season was Wiese’s only year with the club. After a successful career at Werder Bremen, he was supposed to be an important cog for Hoffenhiem. But he started off badly giving up 15 goals in his first four starts, and finished the season with 25 goals allowed in 10 matches played.

tim-wiese-1“When I came to Hoffenheim, we thought we could challenge for European places – then everything backfired,” Wiese explained. “And every time we lost, it seemed it was my fault; I was being analyzed and criticized, not the team. It was all about me.

“Despite my experience and confidence, I had never faced this before. It culminated in a fan protest at the club’s office – a fan protest, just against me! There were only a few of these fans, but this made me feel deeply unwanted, and I would never wish this on another player. It was like being in a horror movie. The pressure was inhuman. I could not play freely.”

Eventually, Wiese turned to bodybuilding as a way to deal with the pressures facing him. Soon he was hitting the weights far more than he was the pitch. “I had to get all the Hoffenheim problems out of my head, and so I dealt with it this way,” he said. “I tried to break down all the negatives – I don’t want to join a bodybuilding championship, I was just enjoying myself, having fun.”

Hindsight is 20/20

One has to wonder if Wiese’s career might have gone differently if he’d accepted an offer from Real Madrid to be Iker Casillas’ backup. In the end, Wiese chose a guaranteed starting job with Hoffenhiem because he felt it would improve his chances at the international level.

“Hindsight is easier than foresight,” he said. “There was no way past Casillas at the time.” Interestingly enough, Wiese might have become Real Madrid’s starter because Casillas struggled and quickly fell to number two on the depth chart.

Another route that the 32-year-old could have taken included staying at Bremen, where he spent the best years of his career. And he certainly isn’t blaming anyone else for his decision to leave. “No, it’s my fault, no-one else’s. I’m professional enough to have clarified this with myself,” he admitted. “I have to deal with the fact that I haven’t played for one and a half years.”

Now the big question is if we’ll ever see Wiese on the pitch again. Assuming he’s motivated, the former star goalie will have to shed some of his muscle before he gets another look in the soccer world.