Bayern Munich will be eager to continue their winning run when they welcome VfL Wolfsburg to the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
Matchday 17 of the 2019-20 Bundesliga season will continue on Saturday, with some intriguing match-ups on show. Defending champions Bayern Munich will be in action on the day, when they play hosts to Wolfsburg, hoping to keep pace with RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach.
It has been quite a topsy turvy season for Bayern Munich, with poor results costing Niko Kovac his job last month. Hansi Flick has been in interim charge of Die Roten since then, with the Bundesliga champions winning 7 of their 9 matches in the period. But, successive losses to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach have pegged them back slightly.
Wolfsburg, on the other hand, have been decent as they reach the midway point of the season. The Wolfe are currently eighth on the Bundesliga table, having been beaten just four times so far. Oliver Glasner’s men boast the best defensive record in the German top-flight this term, although they have won just one of their last seven league games, which poses a concern.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 6-0 win for Bayern Munich, with Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, James Rodriguez, Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich on target for the Bundesliga champions. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Hansi Flick is managing a squad that has been ravaged by injuries, leaving him down to his bare bones ahead of the visit of Wolfsburg. On Saturday, Bayern Munich’s caretaker boss will have just 11 first-team players fit and available, with the bench likely to comprise entirely of youngsters.
Thiago Alcantara is a fresh absentee due to a suspension, as he serves a one-match ban after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. Apart from the Spanish international, the likes of Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez, Leon Goretzka, Corentin Tolisso, Mickael Cuisance, Kingsley Coman and Jann-Fiete Arp are all on the treatment tables and are ruled out.
With these many regulars unavailable for the visit of Wolfsburg, Flick’s team selection is hardly up for debate. Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer will take his place in goal once again, while Javi Martinez will return in defence, having served his suspension in the win over Freiburg this week.
Martinez will have David Alaba as his partner at the heart of the Bayern Munich defence, with Alphonso Davies and Benjamin Pavard being the full-back pairing. Flick is likely to line his side up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Joshua Kimmich playing the Anchor Man role in front of the defence.
Thomas Muller and Philippe Coutinho will be in behind the central striker, with the duo also being asked to put in the hard yards high up the pitch when off the ball. Coman’s absence means Ivan Perisic should start on the left flank, with Serge Gnabry picking himself on the right.
Robert Lewandowski is due a groin surgery during the winter break, but the Polish striker will be available against Wolfsburg. Lewandowski will lead the line for Bayern Munich once again, hoping to bring up 20 Bundesliga goals for the season on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Neuer; Pavard, Martinez, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich; Gnabry, Muller, Coutinho, Perisic; Lewandowski
Unlike his counterpart, Oliver Glasner hardly has any injury woes hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Bayern Munich on Saturday, the Wolfsburg boss will only be without two first-team players in the worst possible scenario.
Ignacio Camacho is ruled out due to an ankle injury, while Admir Mehmedi is a major doubt due to a thigh complaint. Glasner is also sweating over the availability of strikers Wout Weghorst (fever) and Daniel Ginczek (sore throat), but the duo should be available to face Bayern Munich.
Glasner will likely line his side up in his preferred 4-1-4-1 formation, with Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels picking himself as Wolfsburg’s goalkeeper. The 27-year-old should be a busy man in goal, with Robert Lewandowski expected to give him a tough time on Saturday.
Marcel Tisserand and John Brooks should form the central defensive partnership once again, with talented full-back Kevin Mbabu expected to start on the right side of the Wolfsburg defence. On the opposite flank, Jerome Roussillon is a certain starter.
Wolfsburg captain Joshua Guilavogui will be the holding midfielder, hoping to keep things tight in the middle of the park and stifling the flow of the Bayern Munich attacking moves. Xaver Schlager and Maximilian Arnold will provide the creative thrust in the final third, looking to link up with the wide men.
The aforementioned wide men should be Josip Brekalo and Joao Victor, with the duo providing the pacy outlet on the flanks. Weghorst should the line for Wolfsburg against Bayern Munich, with the Dutchman being the target man inside the box.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Casteels; Mbabu, Tisserand, Brooks, Roussillon; Guilavogui; Victor, Arnold, Schlager, Brekalo; Weghorst
- Bayern Munich have never lost at home to Wolfsburg, winning 62 of a possible 66 points and scoring in all 22 games. The record champions have not hosted any other club as often without ever losing.
- Wolfsburg boast the league’s tightest defence in the Bundesliga this season, having let in just 16 goals till date in the top-flight.
- However, Wolfsburg are also the league’s lowest scorers with just 18 goals to their name from 16 Bundesliga games.
- Wolfsburg are one of two teams (other being Borussia Monchengladbach) that are yet to drop points from a winning position in the Bundesliga this season.
- Robert Lewandowski has 20 goals and 7 assists in 17 Bundesliga games against Wolfsburg, including a combined 19 in the last eight matches alone. This haul also includes his historic five-goal haul from the bench in September 2015.
Player to Watch
It has been an odd season for Wolfsburg, who boast the meanest defence in Bundesliga as well as the worst attack in the division. However, against a Bayern Munich defensive unit that has been vulnerable lately, opportunities could be forthcoming, which is where Wout Weghorst comes in.
In a season plagued by attacking inconsistencies, Weghorst has been Wolfsburg’s only consistent performer in the final third. In fact, the next best for Die Wolfe are Josip Brekalo and Maximilian Arnold with two goals each. So, it is clear that Weghorst will be looked at to provide the inspiration in front of goal on Saturday. Can the Dutchman be the game changer for Wolfsburg?
Bayern Munich 2-1 VfL Wolfsburg
Bayern Munich seem to have moved on well from the back-to-back defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach. However, Wolfsburg pose a unique threat, with the visitors being a tough side to get past at the back.
Defensively, Bayern might not have a lot to worry about, with Wolfsburg rarely finding the back of the net this term. However, with Oliver Glasner’s men conceding more than once just three times this season, an injury-ravaged Bayern Munich will likely be made to work hard for all three points.
A rare game against Wolfsburg wherein Bayern Munich will not have it easy; The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Hansi Flick & co., with the hosts having just about enough quality to grab all three points on the night.