It’s only the first weekend of February but Julian Nagelsmann is feeling the heat. Three consecutive 1-1 draws in the Bundesliga last month has opened the door for the likes of RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, SC Freiburg, and Union Berlin to reach the summit. Bayern Munich have to curb the trend this Sunday and beat VfL Wolfsburg, who themselves have looked a completely different beast since the turn of the year.
In their opening fixtures against RB Leipzig and FC Köln, Bayern looked sluggish and out-of-sorts. In truth, they were lucky not to lose at home to Köln. If it wasn’t for Joshua Kimmch’s thunderstrike from 30 yards, they would have certainly lost. We saw a similar trend from last weekend when Bayern hosted Eintracht Frankfurt. Despite taking the lead in that one, Nagelsmann’s side never took the initiative to their visitors. Instead, it was Frankfurt who responded, got themselves on level terms and had chances to win the game.
Before the extended winter break, it was acting number nine Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting who appeared to be Bayern’s saviour. However, he and his fellow teammates just have found the right rhythm since returning from the World Cup in Qatar. This is notably so for the German contingency in the squad. Die Mannschaft are at an all-time low in terms of reputation and prowess. You’d expect a response from the likes of Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané, Joshua Kimmich, etc. We’re still waiting for that statement comeback on the pitch.
Turning our heads to the home side, Wolfsburg couldn’t have dreamt of a better start to 2023. Two games, two wins, 11 scored, none conceded. Despite a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Werder Bremen last weekend, it’s clear that head coach Niko Kovač has got the wolves believing again. In 7th place, they’re knocking on the door of the European places. Should Kovač opt for a more aggressive and adventurous starting 11, he could play 4-3-3 and possibly a 4-5-1 when off the ball. The likes of Maximilian Arnold are going to be crucial for Wolfsburg. His box-to-box style of play could cause problems for Bayern if they’re not at the races from the first whistle.
Quite simply, the pressure is on the away side. The whole of the Bundesliga is watching to see if they’re about to falter again. It must be said that Bayern breezed past Mainz 05 in the DFB Pokal in midweek, winning 4-0. It was clear that the cup competition was a welcome distraction. However, it’s back to domestic business and time to face the music. Will the Wolves inflict more pain? Or will Bayern show us they’re not letting go of the Bundesliga Meisterschale so easily?
GGFN | Jamie Allen