Christof Koepsel - Bongarts/Getty Images
FC Bayern held onto the top spot in the 1. Bundesliga table today, demolishing VfL Wolfsburg and running the winning streak to 8 matches across all competitions.
Wolfsburg is certainly an opponent that can make it tough if you overlook them, but Bayern had been in fine form and this one has the feeling of an old-school beat-down from the opening whistle. Bayern dominated possession in the first half and, despite taking a 1-0 lead into the break, certainly felt like it could have been more.
With an unusual formation that excluded Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller but that featured the prime-time CM pairing of Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, Bayern was threatening the Wolfsburg goal within a few minutes. Xherdan Shaqiri twice tried to create opportunities for his teammates, and Lahm unleashed a pretty good shot, but it was Bastian Schweinsteiger who finally broke though (after a nice "falling out of bounds" pass from Ribery):
Considering Wolfsburg had done little to threaten at that point, this one already felt like a fairly safe lead. Still, Bayern has had problems keeping the foot to the gas earlier this season, so the points weren't quite in the bag yet.
In the second half, though, Wolfsburg really struggled to get anything going. Javi and Bastian were running a pretty good keep-away game in the middle of the park, and Mandzukic nearly had a goal within 5 minutes of the re-start. Ex-Bayern man Ivica Olic briefly threatened the Bayern goal, but soon after, the levee broke as Shaqiri got down the flank, skinned his marker, and fed Mandzukic for a header:
That one starts off low-quality, but seems to get better by the end.
Mandzu notched another before being taken off, but the hay was already in the barn by that point. We finally got to give Tymoschuk some minutes, and Kroos and Pizarro also got a chance to stretch their legs. Even in the end, when VfL would have been thought to need to be more aggressive, it felt like Bayern controlled most of the possession and was dictating the pace of the game.
- Javi and Bastian work really well together. Bastian had one errant pass in the first half, but otherwise I think these guys control the ball very well. Against a better opponent, though, it will be interesting to see if we need Gustavo (or someone else) to be more of a hard-charging tackler. Javi is solid defensively, but he doesn't have the same aggressive, crunching tackles. Today, though, these two were perfect.
- It would have been nice to see a goal, but twice we created moderately dangerous chances from free kicks. This has been a problem for us, and it seems we might have been dedicating some practice time towards it finally.
- New comment system appears to be working well, but definitely email or tweet me with any problems. I'm going to hold off on breaking down the other matches from today, because one of them had an exciting finish and is now just starting (as a replay) on Gol! TV right now. I don't want to ruin it for people who might want to watch it right now. After those are over, though, I'll do Bundesliga News and Notes either tonight or tomorrow. Thanks for reading.