Preview: FC Bayern vs. VfL Wolfsburg

MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 15: Javi Martinez (L) of Muenchen shake hands with his team mate Xherdan Shaqiri during his substitution at the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and 1. FSV Mainz 05 at Allianz Arena on September 15, 2012 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

In Match Week 5 of the 2012-2013 Bundesliga season. This is our first mid-week battle as far as League play, though Bayern has already seen mid-week games for the Pokal and Champions League competitions. This time, we take on VfL Wolfbusrg, a struggling-but-still dangerous club that's coming off a draw vs. Greuther Fuerth. Bayern needs a win to stay atop the table and keep the winning streak going, while Wolfsburg is barely clinging to a spot in the top half.

The Line-Up

This is why we went out and procured depth, no? Three days off since our last game, then another coming in four more days, so I expect to see some fresh faces. Ribery will supposedly be ready to go, but David Alaba, while getting closer, is still not match fit. Abendzeitung also says that Badstuber will keep filling in at LB in the near future, though hopefully either Contento or Alaba will be back in the next 2 weeks.

Pizarro is an option up top, there are plenty of options at CDM, and Müller, Shaqiri, and Kroos can all play multiple positions. Here's my guess:

Pizarro

Ribery - Müller - Shaqiri

Gustavo - Martinez

Badstuber - Tymoschuk - Boateng - Lahm

Neuer

Personally, I wouldn't mind trying Müller or Shaqiri at striker, but that would be a little too bold as a prediction. Tymo at CB? Just a guess. And remember, he and Boateng looked rock-solid together in the CL final.

The Opponent

The Wolves are a team that has played a little more poorly than their record indicates: 5 points from 4 matches is not bad, and they've only lost once. But their one loss was a 4-0 beat-down at the hands of H96 on their (Wolfburg's) own pitch, while their one win (a 1-0 defeat of Stuttgart, after Stuttgart missed a penalty) and their two draws (vs. Augsburg and Greuther Fuerth) have done little to instill confidence.

One thing Wolfsburg and their manager, Felix "Mad-man" Magath, have become known for is their weird propensity to move guys outside of their natural positions. Personally, I've always liked a little creativity in devising a formation, but Magath takes it to the extreme. So far this year, we've seen Simon Kjaer lining up as a midfielder, Ivica Olic as a wing, and a 4-2-3-1 formation that pretty much turns into a 4-2-4 as Diego presses forward and the wings don't compensate by drifting back.

But this is still a dangerous team that can hit us on the counter-attack if we get careless. Last year, they finished only one place outside of a Europa League spot. And in our first meeting with them last season, we were basically held to a stalemate, with Gustavo snatching a winner in stoppage time to save a 1-0 victory. Add the fact that Olic will be making his first return to the Allianz and Wolfburg 'keeper Diego Benaglio has the ability to keep his club in the game, and I could see this being a somewhat frustrating match for us.

Elsewhere in the Competition

The biggest non-Bayern game is Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Dortmund, and undefeated Eintracht takes on the back-to-back defending champs. Dortmund will be looking to rebound after a stinging loss to Hamburg this weekend. Meanwhile, Mainz travels to Schalke while Hannover 96 hosts Nuernberg (who might feel a bit unlucky not to have earned a draw from their recent battle with Eintracht Frankfurt).

Final Notes

- The match will be broadcast live on Gol! TV, immediately following an episode of Hallo Bundesliga. Right afterwards, they'll be replaying the Dortmund / Eintracht match, then an episode of Bundesliga Magazine, so we've got nearly 6 hours of German football on Gol! tomorrow afternoon. Not bad.

- The match kicks off at 8 PM Munich time. For the time in your area, check here.

Convert time zones with worldtimebuddy.com

- One more warning: our site's facelift will be rolling out soon, with new graphics, a new look, and faster and cleaner loading of articles and pictures. If anything gets screwed up in the transfer, email me and I'll take a look. Thanks for reading.

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