Manuel Veth –
Bayern Munich v Wolfsburg – December, 21 – Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
The final matchday before the winter break saw Bayern Munich take on their favorite opponent Wolfsburg. Bayern have never lost at home against Wolfsburg. Not surprising, Bayern had the majority of chances early on. Ivan Perišić saw a header stopped by Koen Casteels (14′), the keeper was also on guard to keep out a David Alaba freekick (23′). Serge Gnabry danced through Wolfsburg’s defense, but his shot was just wide (30′). Finally, Philippe Coutinho missed the wide-open net from just a few yards out (41′). On the other side, Felix Klaus went one-v-one with Manuel Neuer, the keeper producing a great save to keep the scoreline even (15′). It was Wolfsburg’s only true chance in a half that was dominated by the Bavarians but somehow failed to get on the scoreline.
Wolfsburg had a better start to the second half. João Victor (46′) and Xaver Schlager (50′) with chances for the Wolves. On the other side, Casteels had to produce a fantastic save to keep out Coutinho’s effort (53′). Bayern, however, failed to keep up the tempo from the first half and, as a result, had a difficult time to get past Wolfsburg’s well-organized defensive line. Instead, Augsburg almost took the lead in the 80th minute when a shot by Maximilian Arnold just about missed Neuer’s goal. Then Hansi Flick brought on Joshua Zirkzee in the 81st minute, the Dutch striker scored the winner against Freiburg midweek, and he would be the hero once again scoring the winner for Bayern four minutes after coming on. Then in the 89th minute, Gnabry put the cap on it with an exceptional finish from inside the box.
Bayern Munich v Wolfsburg – Three Stars
Joshua Zirkzee (Bayern Munich)
Sometimes history does repeat itself. The 18-year-old Zirkzee was brought on late by Flick midweek against Freiburg and ended up scoring the winner. Tonight against Wolfsburg, Flick repeated the trick, once again Zirkzee came on and ended up scoring the winner.
Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
Another strong performance by the Canadian. The 19-year-old has grown into the left-back role at Bayern. Always the fastest player on the pitch, Davies has the ability to make up for lack of situational awareness in defense by chasing down attackers using his speed. Something that could be witnessed on countless occasions on Saturday. More important, however, the Canadian is finally starting to join the attack, for which his talent set remains the most suitable.
Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg)
Wolfsburg’s goalkeeper was excellent on Saturday afternoon. The Belgian number two had to make countless saves in the first half to keep the scoreline even. Then in the second half, he made an incredible diving save after a wonderful shot by Philippe Coutinho.
GOALS: 1-0 (Zirkzee 85’) 2-0 (Gnabry, 89’)
The win aside, Bayern’s second 45 minutes against Wolfsburg were the worst in the era Flick. The Rekordmeister lacked ideas and pace for much of the second interval.
Add to that the many injuries and this might be the most ideal time for a winter break. Positives are that Dortmund dropped points last night. But Leipzig continues to fly at the top of the table; the Red Bulls dominated Augsburg winning their game 3-1.
Bayern Munich v Wolfsburg – Line-ups
Neuer – Davies, Alaba, Javi Martínez (Boateng, 45′), Pavard – Coutinho (Zirkzee, 81′), Kimmich, Müller – Perišić, Lewandowski, Gnabry (Dajaku, 90′)
Casteels – Roussillon, Brooks, Tisserand, Mbabu – Arnold, Guilavogui, Schlager (Gerhardt, 57′) – Steffen (Otávio, 67′), Klaus (Weghorst, 76′), João Victor
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He is the Area Manager USA for Transfermarktand contributes to Forbes.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC, and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.