Bayern Munich will look t0 pip Borussia Dortmund for the top spot as they host VfL Wolfsburg at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
Bayern Munich will have the golden opportunity to dethrone Borussia Dortmund as the Bundesliga leaders as they host VfL Wolfsburg at the Allianz Arena this weekend.
The Bavarians are trailing their arch-rivals due to an inferior goal-difference but are coming on the back of an exceptional run of form that saw them collect twelve points since the start of February. Dortmund, meanwhile, have collected only six during that time-frame.
Bayern’s most recent victory came against Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend and head coach Niko Kovac will demand a similar display against a Wolfsburg side, who have an awful record against the German champions.
That being said, the Wolves have collected as many as 24 points from their last 12 Bundesliga matches, a tally bettered only by three teams, including Bayern and Dortmund.
Even though they are coming on the back of a somewhat disappointing 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen in their last game, Bruno Labbadia’s men have an excellent chance of causing an upset, having remained unbeaten in their last five Bundesliga matches.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at both the sides ahead of this mouthwatering fixture on Saturday.
Team News & Tactics
Bayern Munich could still be without the services of David Alaba, who is a doubt coming into this fixture, having trained by himself on the eve of the game. Therefore, Rafinha is likely to continue deputizing for the Austrian in the left-back slot while Joshua Kimmich will retain his place on the opposite flank.
Jerome Boateng was given the nod ahead of Mats Hummels in the last game and the former Manchester City defender is likely to retain his place in the starting lineup.
Boateng certainly has a point to prove after being deemed surplus to requirements for the German national team by Joachim Low earlier this month. He will be partnered by Niklas Sule at the heart of the Bayern backline.
Javi Martinez is almost a guaranteed starter in midfield, having played exceptional football in the past few weeks. The Spaniard will look to keep things tidy in the middle and provide protection for the back four while his midfield partner Thiago Alcantara will be tasked with the responsibility of easing Bayern’s transition from midfield to offence.
Thomas Muller could once again be deployed in the right wing slot in the absence of Kingsley Coman and Arjen Robben, meaning Serge Gnabry will start on the opposite flank, with James Rodriguez operating as the attacking midfielder. And finally, the Bayern attack will be led by the one and only Robert Lewandowski.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Sule, Rafinha; Martinez, Alcantara; Muller, Rodriguez, Gnabry; Lewandowski.
Much like Bayern, Wolfsburg are expected to make minimal changes to the side that drew with Bremen last weekend. The back-four will remain the same, with William, Robin Knoche, John Brooks and Jerome Roussillon all retaining their places in the starting lineup.
William and Roussillon will occupy the fullback slots, where both of these players will look to exploit the gap left by Bayern’s overlapping fullbacks, particularly Kimmich. Koen Casteels will start in goal, after having been taken off in the last game against Werder Bremen as an injury precaution.
Joshua Guilavogui will sit in at the base of Wolfsburg’s 4-3-3 and the former Atletico Madrid midfielder will provide security to the backline with his strong tackling and robust style of play. Guilavogui will be partnered by Yannick Gerhardt and Maximilian Arnold, both of who will operate in slightly advanced roles. The absence of Ignacio Camacho will be noted, however.
Wout Weghorst is expected to spearhead the Wolves attack and the Dutchman will be partnered by Renato Steffen and Admir Mehmedi in wider attacking positions. Steffen will look to move out wide and provide crosses into the box while Mehmedi will use his clever positioning to sneak his way into the box.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Casteels; William, Knoche, Brooks, Roussillon; Gerhardt, Guilavogui, Arnold; Steffen, Weghorst, Mehmedi.
- Bayern Munich have scored at least 2 goals in 17 of their last 19 home matches against Wolfsburg in all competitions.
- Wolfsburg are unbeaten in their last five matches in the Bundesliga.
- Bayern have an excellent record against the Wolves, having yet to lose in any of their last 24 home matches.
- Bayern have failed to win only one of their last 12 matches in the league – making them one of the most in-form sides in Europe.
- Wolfsburg have won 8% of their competitive fixtures against Bayern, losing 76%.
Player to Watch
When Bayern face Wolfsburg, the focus always shifts to Robert Lewandowski, the striker who famously scored five goals in just nine minutes against the same opponent about two and a half years ago.
Aside from that, however, the Polish international is in red-hot form at the moment, having been involved in five goals in the last four league games. His brace against Gladbach last weekend helped him draw level with Claudio Pizarro in the all-time Bundesliga scorers charts(5th).
In addition, no other foreign players have scored as many goals as Lewandowski or Pizarro in the Bundesliga and it’s probably needless to say that the Bayern Munich forward will be eager to eclipse the Peruvian’s record against Wolfsburg this weekend.
Bayern Munich 3-0 Wolfsburg
As mentioned earlier, Bayern Munich have looked almost unstoppable in recent weeks and it’s very unlikely that the Wolves will be able to cause any upset despite boasting an impressive record of their own in recent matches. Thus, we expect a comfortable 3-0 win for the hosts in this one.