Bayern Munich will look to end a four-game winless run in all competitions on Saturday when they travel to the Volkswagen Arena to face a struggling Wolfsburg side.
Bayern’s trip to Wolfsburg this weekend could represent one of the last chances for under pressure coach Niko Kovac to turn things around for the German champions.
The Bavarians, who have won the last six league titles in Germany’s top flight, sit in sixth place on 13 points, four adrift of leaders Borussia Dortmund.
However Wolfsburg, who only maintained their ?Bundesliga status last season by beating Holstein Kiel in the relegation play-off, have problems of their own. The Wolves are enduring a five-game winless streak.
This may seem to be the perfect time to play ?Bayern, but Wolfsburg have lost their last four matches on home turf against the 2017/18 champions. Plus, Bruno Labbadia has lost 12 of his 13 meetings with Bayern as a coach, the only exception being back in 2009.
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One of the most memorable games played between these two sides in recent years was back in September 2015.
Wolfsburg took an unlikely lead in the 26th minute against Pep Guardiola’s side. After half-time Guardiola took off Thiago Alcântara, replacing him with Robert Lewandowski. It took the Polish striker five minutes to get his first and in the following nine minutes bagged four more. Five goals, nine minutes, job done.
The second half substitute recorded the fastest three, four, and five goals scored by one player in Bundesliga history.
Fast forward three years and the striker has not scored in his last six games for club and country, his last strike came against ?Schalk?e back in September. Questions are now being asked, albeit prematurely, about Lewandowski’s goalscoring ability at the highest level.
Marcel Tisserand vs James Rodríguez
During the international break, ?Rodriguez played superbly in a narrow right-sided position for Colombia against the USA. The South American curled in a beautiful goal in the match and registered an assist.
Against Wolfsburg, James will be hoping to play in his favoured position behind the striker, although Kovac has played him on the right at times this season. If James ends up behind the striker, then it will be the responsibility of Tisserand to pick him up.
Tisserand is a centre back by trade but Labbadia has been playing him in a defensive midfield position with Ignacio Camacho out. It will be his job to prevent James popping up in space around the box looking to thread a pass or take aim at goal.
Jérôme Roussillon vs Arjen Robben
The Dutch winger remains a key figure for Bayern Munich and with three goals in six league appearances he is still a major threat to opposition full backs.
The full back Robben hopes to be troubling this weekend is Frenchman Jérôme Roussillon. The left-back moved to the Bundesliga in the summer after impressing at Montpellier.
Labbadia will be hoping that his left back can exploit the space left in behind Robben and make overlapping runs to cause Bayern’s defence issues. However, Roussillon will also have Joshua Kimmich’s surging runs to prevent. Containing both the German and Dutchman will be a big test for the 25-year-old.
For Wolfsburg, central midfielders Josuha Guilavogui and Ignacio Camacho miss out, while new signing Felix Klaus is still sidelined with injury.
Jerome Boateng is a doubt for Bayern after suffering a calf complaint on international duty with Germany. Kingsley Coman and Corentin Tolisso are definitely out, but Leon Goretzka and Rafinha are training with the first team again following injury.
Wolfsburg (4-3-3): Casteels; William, Knoche, Brooks, Roussillon; Malli, Tisserrand, Arnold; Steffen, Weghorst, Brekalo.
Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Alaba; Thiago, Martinez; Robben, James, Ribéry; Lewandowski.
Wolfsburg sit in ninth, have won as many as they have lost, trail Bayern by four points, and have conceded three more goals than the Bavarian side. They also finished 16th in both the 2016/17 and 2017/18 campaigns.
They have an inadequate squad and their issues have been ongoing for the past few years, and while Bayern are struggling their squad is still probably the strongest in the division and should prove too much for Wolfsburg.
Prediction: Wolfsburg 1-3 Bayern Munich