Champions Bayern Munich get ready for the last gameweek of the Bundesliga season as they travel to the Volkswagen Arena to play against VfL Wolfsburg.
After a rather poor start to the campaign under Niko Kovac, Bayern Munich had their fate turned 180 degrees after appointing Hansi Flick in the head coach role.
The change of management has brought with it an unbeaten run that has lasted 24 games in all competitions with the last defeat coming at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach in December. This amazing streak also includes the 1-0 win at Werder Bremen which confirmed them champions of the Bundesliga once again.
Bayern were able to keep up their excellent work even after clinching the title with a 3-1 win against Freiburg at home last weekend. Robert Lewandowski was on target twice taking his tally to 33 for the season in 30 matches – his personal best and seven shy of the Bundesliga record of 40 set by Gerd Muller.
VfL Wolfsburg, on the other hand, have not enjoyed this kind of consistency this season. Far from it, really. They have gone as high as second place on Matchday 7 and dropped to 1oth four games later, and have been flirting with the Europa League spots throughout the season.
At the moment, they sit sixth, 11 points adrift of Bayer Leverkusen in fifth, but level with Hoffenheim, who will face a really tough opponent as well when they travel to the Signal Iduna Park to play Borussia Dortmund. Schalke hosted Wolfsburg last week, a game which ended in a 4-1 win for the visitors, with Wout Weghorst scoring two, while Kevin Mbabu and Joao Victor also found the back of the net.
The reverse fixture ended in a 2-0 win for the Bavarians in a game that saw world-class defending from Marcel Tisserand and Mbabu. Wolfsburg were able to hold Bayern out for 85 minutes after which super-sub Joshua Zirkzee found a way through. Serge Gnabry added insult to injury by doubling Bayern’s lead four minutes later.
Team News & Tactics
Oliver Glasner is expected to make some changes to his team as they get ready to face the champions with a simple task: match or better whatever scoreline Hoffenheim achieve against Borussia Dortmund. However, they will be without Admir Mehmedi (Achilles tendon), Paulo Otavio (ankle), Marcel Tisserand (knock) and William (knee). Ignacio Camacho, too, is a doubt for the fixture.
Wolfsburg are expected to mirror Bayern Munich’s 4-2-3-1 formation on Saturday. Koen Casteels will start between the posts with the gloves. Ahead of him, Marin Pongracic and John Brooks are expected to keep their spots as starting centre-halves, while Jerome Roussillon and Kevin Mbabu provide width from the back.
Yannick Gerhardt is likely to return to the lineup partnering Maximilian Arnold in the double pivot that will screen the defence. Xaver Schlager will play ahead of this duo as the number 10. He will be playing off of the man in form, Wout Weghorst, who has 16 goals this season, a number bettered only by Robert Lewandowski, Timo Werner and Jadon Sancho.
They will be supplemented by wide men Renato Steffen and Josip Brekaklo who will start on the right and left of Schlager respectively acting as hybrid 10/7s.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Casteels; Mbabu, Pongracic, Brooks, Roussillon; Gerhardt, Arnold; Brekalo, Schlager, Steffen; Weghorst
There are no fresh injury concerns for Hansi Flick, who will have a near-full squad at his disposal barring Niklas Süle (match fitness), Thiago Alcantara (groin), Corentin Tolisso (ankle).
There are no doubts over who will lead the line when you’re in the presence of Robert Lewandowski. The Pole has scored 16 goals in his last 10 appearances against Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, a streak that includes his famous five goals in nine minutes at the Allianz Arena.
Now fit Philippe Coutinho is expected to start behind him in a 4-2-3-1, and should feature in the No.10 role. He will be aided by Serge Gnabry on the right and Ivan Perisic on the left. Kingsley Coman and Michael Cuisance are also among players that could get minutes in this fixture as Bundesliga calls curtains on the season.
Joshua Kimmich will retain his spot in the double pivot, starting alongside Sarpreet Singh, who can play as a makeshift central midfielder even though his natural position lies higher up the pitch.
20-year-old Chris Richards could have received his first start for the club, but he played for the reserves team yesterday so is likely to miss out on the squad list altogether.
Alvaro Odriozola should start on the right of the defence, partnering Alphonso Davies who will return to the starting XI after missing out last week due to suspension. Jerome Boateng is expected be paired up alongside Lucas Hernandez in the heart of the defence. This back-four will serve as a screen for Sven Ulreich, who will hold the fort in the six-yard box in his second successive game as a starter.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ulreich; Odriozola, Boateng, Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Sarpreet; Gnabry, Coutinho, Perisic; Lewandowski
- VfL Wolfsburg have won just five of 52 competitive meetings with Bayern Munich.
- Bayern have scored 96 times this season. Only twice has any team – Bayern themselves – scored more (101 in 1971/72 and 98 in 2012/13).
- Robert Lewandowski is set to claim his third Bundesliga top scorer’s cannon in a row, and fifth overall. His closest pursuer, RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner, is on 26 goals.
- Thomas Müller has hit nine goals and 10 assists in his 19 appearances against the Wolves; Gnabry has scored five in six.
- Ivan Perisic produced 18 goals and 16 assists in 70 Bundesliga appearances for Wolfsburg between January 2013 and August 2015, winning the DFB Cup and Supercup.
Player to Watch
Serge Gnabry missed out completely on the squad list for the game against SC Freiburg, but will return to the playing XI against Wolfsburg. The German has 12 goals and 10 assists for the season, the fifth-highest number of total direct goal contributions in the league this season. He is one of only three players to have goals and assists both in double digits in the campaign.
Not only does the 24-year-old have an incredible record in the league this season, but also boasts of great numbers against Wolfsburg, scoring five times in six games against them. He was also on target in the reverse fixture when he put the game to bed in the 90th minute. Expect him to cause problems to the hosts’ backline on Saturday.
VfL Wolfsburg 0-0 Bayern Munich
We expect Bayern Munich to end the season with another clean sheet, primarily due to their amazing defensive ethic on the pitch. However, there is nothing to play for, for Bayern and this could mean a bit of slack on the ball.
VfL Wolfsburg will pour out their heart into this game to get some points off the champions in an attempt to reach the Europa League, but might have to wait for the end of the game for their fate. That said, the Wolves might just do enough to hold out the incredible Bayern attack in a very important game for them.