Bayern Munich will be eager to continue their dominant start to the new campaign when they welcome VfL Wolfsburg to the Allianz Arena on Sunday afternoon.
The Bundesliga returns this weekend with the second round of fixtures, with some interesting match-ups on show. Defending champions Bayern Munich go up against VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday at Allianz Arena in what should be a straightforward assignment for Julian Nagelsmann’s side.
Bayern Munich kicked off their Bundesliga title defence in a stunning fashion last weekend as they thrashed last season’s UEFA Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt by a 6-1 margin on the opening weekend of the new season.
They were 5-0 up at half-time, and despite taking their foot off the gas in the second half, Frankfurt only managed two shots on target the whole game, with Die Roten dismantling Oliver Glasner’s side in their own backyard. This resounding victory came after the Bavarians had thumped RB Leipzig 5-3 in DFL-Supercup. So, it is safe to say Nagelsmann’s new tactical system is working wonders domestically.
Bayern Munich will now take on a familiar foe in Niko Kovac’s Wolfsburg in their first home league game of 2022/23. Kovac, who guided the Rekordmeister to a double when he was in charge back in 2018/19, will return to his former club with a point to make as his side will head into the game as underdogs.
Wolfsburg had a turbulent season last term. There was an early season optimism of a team capable of contesting in the top-four under then-coach Mark van Bommel, but things went horribly wrong for them. The Dutchman was eventually sacked in late October, and results got even worse under his successor, Florian Kohfeldt.
At one point in the season, they just could not buy a positive result which left them flirting with relegation trouble. However, Kovac has since steadied the ship following his appointment, and the club will be hoping for a much more stable season this time around. The visitors come into this encounter on the back of a 2-2 draw against Werder Bremen in their season-opener.
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) August 13, 2022
While Die Wölfe did manage a 2-2 draw against Bayern on the final Matchday of the 2021/22 campaign, Bayern had already won the Bundesliga back then and were metaphorically on the beaches. So, it is highly likely the visitors will struggle to lay a glove or cause a similar upset here up against the Bayern juggernaut at the Allianz Arena.
Team News & Tactics
Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann has assembled a formidable squad this summer with quality depth. So, even though Leon Goretzka (knee) and Eric Choupo-Moting (kidney stone) might not feature owing to respective injuries, and Kingsley Coman sitting out with red-card suspension that has carried on from last season, the former RB Leipzig boss has a multitude of options to pick from.
Nagelsmann hinted in the pre-match presser that he has no reason whatsoever to alter the starting line-up from the Eintracht Frankfurt game, meaning new signings Matthijs de Ligt, Ryan Gravenberch, and Noussair Mazraoui will likely have to settle for a place on the bench to start with.
Bayern will line up in a specialised 4-2-2-2 system that allows both Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala to operate in the No. 10 space between the opposition lines. The departure of Robert Lewandowski to FC Barcelona has had little impact on the hosts’ attacking prowess, with Serge Gnabry and summer signing Sadio Mane providing fluidity and dynamism at the top.
Marcel Sabitzer has been in good form lately, and will partner Joshua Kimmich in the middle of the park in the absence of Goretzka. Alphonso Davies should retain his spot at left-back, with Benjamin Pavard starting on the opposite flank ahead of summer addition Mazraoui.
There should not be any changes elsewhere in defence either, as Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez continue at the heart of the Bayern defence, providing cover for the ever-present Manuel Neuer in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Neuer; Pavard, Upamecano, Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Sabitzer; Muller, Musiala; Gnabry, Mane
Unlike his counterpart in the Bayern dugout, Nico Kovac has a number of pressing injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. The Wolves will have to make do without the services of Yannick Gerhardt (ligament) and Kilian Fischer (calf problem) for this clash owing to the serious nature of their injuries. Jonas Wind (thigh) and Bartol Franjic (thigh) are also carrying knocks and have been ruled out of this fixture.
On the flip side, skipper Maxi Arnold has recovered from a back injury and is in contention to start. While Kovac has pushed his side to play a slightly adventurous brand of football with a high defensive line and more intensive pressing, it would not be a surprise if he opts for a deeper block to deny Bayern attackers the space to work with and make things difficult for them.
? PRESS CONFERENCE ?
Ahead of our big matchup with @FCBayernEN this weekend coach Niko Kovač spoke to the media earlier today.
Read More ➡️ https://t.co/reKpsNfT5T
— VfL Wolfsburg EN/US ?? ?? (@VfLWolfsburg_EN) August 11, 2022
Kovac will likely line his side up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels picking himself as Wolfsburg’s goalkeeper. The 30-year-old should be a busy man in between the sticks, with Sadio Mane & co. expected to give him a tough time on Sunday.
The back four, led by the two central defenders in Sebastiaan Bornauw, Maxence Lacroix, will be protected by Maximilian Arnold, and Josuha Guilavogui in the engine room, with the latter also involved in build-up play.
Ridle Baku should once again start at right-back from where he provides pace, versatility and offensive prowess, while Micky van de Ven will be an imposing presence down the opposite flank thanks to his towering 6ft 3in stature, astute defensive nous and tenacity.
The width in attack will come from Patrick Wimmer and Omar Marmoush, with both of them offering excellent speed, dribbling ability, and mobility in the final third, making them major threats in counter-attacking situations. Up top, veteran forward Max Kruse and Lukas Nmecha, who was last season’s top scorer (10 goals) for Wolfsburg, can form a potent strike-duo, enabling Kovac’s side to play direct and vertical football.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Casteels; Baku, Lacroix, Bornauw, van de Ven; Wimmer, Guilavogui, Arnold, Marmoush; Kruse, Nmecha
- Bayern have a strong record at home against Wolfsburg, having won 23 of the last 25 Bundesliga meetings between the two (D2). No other team in the German top-flight has a longer unbeaten home record against a particular opponent.
- Bayern are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 Bundesliga matches (W9, D4) and have netted at least two goals in five of their last six league outings.
- Wolfsburg are unbeaten in their last five Bundesliga games but have come out on top only twice (D3).
- Bayern Munich wonderkid Jamal Musiala needs just one more goal to become the club’s all-time Bundesliga leading scorer under the age of 20, presently on par with Uli Hoeness (13 goals).
- The hosts have remained unbeaten in their first home game of the season in each of the last ten league campaigns, last losing 1-0 to Borussia Monchengladbach in the 2011/12 season.
Player to Watch
While all of Nagelsmann’s front-four were impressive against Eintracht Frankfurt last time out, the pick of the bunch was 19-year-old sensation Jamal Musiala, who is operating in a more attacking role this season. Last season, the youngster played well in midfield, but it was apparent that his attributes, such as receiving the ball between the lines and brushing off opponents with his quick feet, would be better suited to playing in advanced areas.
However, with Lewandowski a target-man up top, there was little scope for rotation or position shifting in between games. Now, they boast a dynamic forward line, and Musiala clearly reaped the benefits of it, bagging a goal and an assist against RB Leipzig in DFL-Supercup, while netting a brace against Frankfurt last time out.
Despite his age, the teenager is an incredible reader of the game, and his presence of mind in the box has been on show in the last couple of games. He occupies good scoring positions near the goal, which will boost his output and help Bayern pick apart the opposition. This is going to be a big season for the German international, and he will once again be vying to get himself on the scoresheet as he looks to further cement his place in the starting XI.
Bayern Munich 4-0 Wolfsburg
Bayern Munich’s blistering start to the new season is an ominous sign for the rest of the Bundesliga, and probably, Europe. They have fired 11 and conceded only four goals in their opening two competitive games. Having won ten straight league crowns, the Bavarians look destined to cruise to number 11 as long as their hybrid free-flowing attacking force can continue plundering goals.
Wolfsburg, therefore, will have a difficult task of keeping the score respectable. The visitors will look to exploit Bayern’s vulnerabilities on the counter-attack whenever possible, but that is easier said than done and the hosts are likely to keep their opponents at arm’s length to come away with a clean triumph.