Wolfsburg 0-2 Bayern Munich: Mandzukic & Robben earn Bavarians victory at the Volkswagen Arena

Bayern Munich continued their march towards the Bundesliga title after strolling to a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena on Friday.

Despite the unremarkable margin of victory, Bayern were always in control but, perhaps with next week’s Champions League trip to Arsenal on the agenda, never looked to over-exert themselves against a side with one of the worst home records in the division.

Mario Mandzukic showed no mercy against his former club when firing home a fantastic overhead effort in the first half, with Arjen Robben rounding off matters emphatically in injury-time to provisionally send the visitors 18 points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga.

Jupp Heynckes was spoiled for choice when naming his starting lineup, and fielded a side with little surprises, with Robben and Jerome Boateng again taking their places on the bench.

Bayern typically dominated possession throughout the first half, but despite some promising build-up play, the final ball was lacking, breaking down a number of their attacks.

Wolfsburg were diligent in defence, and through the pace and directness of Marcel Schafer and Ivica Olic, found themselves with a purposeful outlet on the left flank to relieve pressure on their goal.

The first half seemed destined to end in a stalemate, but, nine minutes before the break, a moment of magic from Mandzukic broke the deadlock in stunning fashion.

Toni Kroos pumped a free kick towards the far post, and Bastian Schweinsteiger nodded back to the Croatia striker, who connected superbly with an overhead kick that rifled in from 15 yards out.

The home side made an improved effort to get themselves back into the game in the second half, but were still indebted to Naldo for hacking clear a goalbound Thomas Muller effort off the line.

Vieirinha blasted off target from 20 yards out, but Wolfsburg’s best chance of the match came from Diego, who bent a free kick towards the corner that brought the best out of Manuel Neuer with a quarter of an hour to go.

But the hosts’ eagerness to get back into the match would cost them at the death, as Muller found Robben peeling away in space, and the winger buried a powerful low finish to seal the game.

With the victory secure, Bayern can now focus all their attention on their visit to to Arsenal next Wednesday, while Wolfsburg’s next action is a league encounter at Mainz on Sunday.

Hitzfeld warns Guardiola: Expectations are high

The former Bayern Munich boss believes there is a “hype” building around the ex-Barcelona coach’s arrival which may prove difficult to live up to

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has warned Pep Guardiola he faces a tough task in living up to fans’ expectations when he takes over at Bayern Munich.

The former Barcelona boss was the most sought-after man in football after he announced his wish to return to coaching after his year-long sabbatical, and it was the Bundesliga leaders who ultimately secured a deal for his services earlier in the winter.

Bayern fans have been eagerly anticipating both the brand of football and the potential for success under the 42-year-old, but former coach Hitzfeld has warned that current boss Jupp Heynckes could ultimately prove to be a tough act to follow.

“There is a hype around Guardiola. The expectations are rising exponentially,” he was quoted as saying by Bild.

“The fans expect him not only to win, but also to play dream football. But if Jupp Heynckes now wins the treble with Bayern, it will be difficult for Guardiola to enter as the expectations will be even greater.”

Bayern have been strongly linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski, but Hitzfeld says the striker is the type of player Guardiola would not wish to sign.

“The issue with Lewandowski brings unrest in Munich!” he added.

“If he comes, there will definitely be one striker too many. Guardiola preferred a system without a centre-forward, and with small, agile strikers. Even with [Samuel] Eto’o and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, he couldn’t get on.”

Juventus ready to reject €30m Bayern bid for Vidal

The Bundesliga leaders have identified the Chile international as a summer transfer target, but the Bianconeri are unwilling to sell the midfielder at any price

EXCLUSIVE
By Renato Maisani

Juventus are preparing to fend off a €30 million bid for midfielder Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich, Goal.com can reveal.

The Bavarian giants, who were linked with a move for the player in 2011 when he moved to Turin, are mulling over a big-money offer for the Chile international in an effort to land him at the end of the season.

However, the Old Lady are unwilling to entertain any offer for the 25-year-old, and have no financial obligation to sell, which would make any attempt to lure the player away from Juventus Stadium a difficult one.

The Serie A champions have spurned advances for Vidal in the past; Real Madrid made some enquiries over the former Bayer Leverkusen man last summer before deciding to focus their attentions on Luka Modric from Tottenham, while Manchester City were also linked with the player.

It is also unlikely that the Chilean himself would consider moving away from Turin, having previously revealed his admiration for coach Antonio Conte during a highly-successful spell with the Bianconeri.

Bayern were rebuffed by Leverkusen in their efforts to sign Vidal in the summer of 2011, and it seems as though any renewed attempts will be met with a similarly cold shoulder, particularly as Juve are currently looking to re-establish themselves as one of Europe’s elite sides.

Other big names linked with a move to the Allianz Arena since the announcement that Pep Guardiola will take over from Jupp Heynckes at the season’s end include Robert Lewandowski, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Wolfsburg-Bayern Munich Betting Preview: Backing the visitors to win comfortably at the Volkswagen Arena

Jupp Heynckes’ men have been a cut above in the Bundesliga this season, and Al Hain-Cole expects them to continue their almost immaculate away form and win once again

Arsene Wenger will no doubt be watching on Friday night when Bayern Munich warm up for their Champions League last-16 tie against Arsenal with a trip to Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.
 
Pep Guardiola’s future club are already looking like Germany’s answer to Barcelona, having won 20 of their last 25 league games, losing just once.
 
Die Roten’s domestic dominance is underlined by Coral’s price of just 1/3 (1.33) on them leaving the Volkswagen Arena with their 11th away win in 12 league games.
 
The hosts have recovered from a disastrous start to the season, and have lost just one of their last six matches in their own back yard, but are still huge underdogs at 8/1 (9.00) to defeat their illustrious opponents for the first time in three years.
 
Three of die Wolfe’s last five home games have ended in a draw, and you can get odds of 4/1 (5.00) on them collecting a point that would feel more like three considering the opposition.

Jupp Heynckes’ men blend irresistible attacking play and immaculate defending with devastating effect, and their staggering +48 goal difference is a result of 55 goals scored and just seven conceded.

The Bavarians have amazingly only conceded one goal in 10 Bundesliga away fixtures, scoring 25 in that time, so should have no trouble in winning with something to spare on Friday.
 
A bet on Bayern to win with a one-goal handicap would have paid out in 17 of their 21 league games this season, so looks like great value at evens (2.00) here.

Half of those 10 away games have resulted in solid 2-0 victories, and considering Dieter Hecking’s side have lost three of their last eight home matches by that exact same scoreline, it could be worth having a punt on this match following suit.

You can get odds of 13/2 (7.50) on the visitors grabbing two goals without reply on Friday, leaving them to concentrate on their upcoming Champions League trip to the Emirates.

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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

Mertesacker: Arsenal are focused on Blackburn despite Bayern Munich threat

The German defender says the Gunners are concentrating on FA Cup progression on Saturday before hosting the Bundesliga leaders on Tuesday night in the Champions League

Arsenal centre back Per Mertesacker believes he and his team-mates will be able to focus fully on their FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers despite their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich taking place just four days later.

The 28-year-old described the continental clash as “a big challenge” but also said that preparations for the visit of the Bundesliga leaders are low-key at the moment with the Blackburn game fast approaching.

However, Mertesacker expects their work for the European encounter to become “extreme” once the Gunners have played Michael Appleton’s Rovers.

“Bayern are doing superb this year and that is a big challenge for us, but we are looking forward to both legs,” said the German defender during an Adidas webchat.

“We still have an important cup game on Saturday [first]. We absolutely want to advance in the FA Cup and that is why the preparations for Bayern are not that intense yet.

“Beginning on Sunday the preparations for Tuesday’s match will be extreme.”

Arsenal will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run to six games when they host Blackburn on Saturday, following their 1-0 win over Sunderland last weekend.

Arsene Wenger is likely to rotate his squad ahead of the Bayern game, with Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere and Laurent Koscielny all doubts.

Meanwhile, Kieran Gibbs remains injured, Andre Santos is on loan at Gremio and Carl Jenkinson is suspended, leaving Wenger with a bit of a crisis at the back.