DFB Pokal Semifinal Preview: FC Bayern Munich vs VfL Wolfsburg

Joern Pollex

When Bayern made their previous trip to Berlin, each and every proud individual was embarrassed. They will look to go back to Berlin to rectify the errors of last year. Standing in their way tomorrow will be VfL Wolfsburg, the German champions of 2009.

Substituting your goalkeeper is one of the most disrespectful acts in football as it represents arrogance and overconfidence. This is exactly what Felix Magath did, at 5-1, in 2009. The Bayern players and fans were clearly annoyed. Since that day, Wolfsburg has found it difficult to produce a win against Bayern. This season, they already played twice in the league. Bayern won the first encounter easily 3-0; Bastian Schweinsteiger opened the scoring and Mario Mandzukic added a double on a day Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben ran havoc. The second meeting was a more hard fought one. Mandzukic opened the scoring against his former side; Robben added a goal in the closing minutes to finish off Die Wolfe.

The Opponent:

Wolfsburg has had a rather strange season. Their away performances have generally shown that they are a team which is capable of fighting for a place in the top five. Their home performances have on the other hand showed that they are a team set to fight for relegation. Wolfsburg is the third best away team in the league and the second worst home team. In fact, only Greuther Fürth has a worse home record than Wolfsburg. Also, only three Bundesliga sides have double digits in the draw column; Die Wolfe is one of them.

Four of their previous four fixtures have ended in draws. The last draw came against Hoffenheim. The previous one came against Bayer 04 Leverkusen. While their league campaign has not been impressive, Wolfsburg's DFB Pokal campaign has been quite impressive. They came out of the blocks with a 0-5 win over FC Schönberg in the opening round. The next round saw a more subdued win over FSV Frankfurt, 2-0.

However, the fireworks really started in Round 3 against Leverkusen. Down a goal thanks to an own goal by Fagner Lemos, the Wolves needed a late comeback to beat one of the Bundesliga's best teams. Leverkusen of course shot themselves in the foot to a certain extent due to shoddy defending but Wolfsburg deserves credit for the win. A 1-2 win over Kickers Offenbach finally landed them a spot in the Allianz Arena in the semifinals.

Wolfsburg have relied on goals from Bas Dost, Bayern's former striker Ivica Olic and Diego to get this far. Diego has been at the heart of just about every excellent Wolfsburg performance to this point. I want to point out that this team has a lot of tall players who can be dangerous on set pieces. Also, a former German international striker and Leverkusen forward, Patrick Helmes is also in this team. This team has underachieved in the league badly. Nonetheless, they should not be taken lightly.

The German Record Chasers:

FC Bayern beat Nürnberg quite easily at the Allianz Arena on Saturday. Emre Can and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg made their debuts on the day. Can's debut did not quite seem like a debut as he featured heavily in preseason friendlies and later in the DFB Pokal until injury brought an end to his promising start. Hojbjerg has been looking in from the sidelines for much of the season. The Bayern faithful first got a glimpse of his talent when he played against Schalke in Qatar.

The star of the show in the derby was Jerome Boateng. His first goal was absolutely beautiful. It resembled a goal Toni Kroos scored against Hannover this season. (Yes, the beauty and finesse of Kroos are missed!) Mario Gomez doubled the scoring roughly ten minutes later after Boateng set him up. Rafinha and Xherdan Shaqiri rounded up the scoring on a day in which Tom Starke saved a penalty.

Bayern really wants to go to Berlin. They really want to win the Cup with the green jewels. That cup has funnily enough eluded Jupp Heynckes in his long and illustrious career. Wolfsburg's last shot at a European berth is the DFB Pokal. The winner, as you perhaps already know, goes on to play in the Europa League. Wolfsburg is managed by the wily Dieter Hecking. Hecking built his Nürnberg side with very little resources. He is now slowly building up Wolfsburg.

Team News

Bayern will perhaps field a full strength side. In the weekend match, the side which is set to play will probably lack the starters as Barcelona is the opponent after that match. Holger Badstuber and Toni Kroos are out of this one due to long term injuries. Boateng has the flu while Franck Ribery will serve out the last of his suspensions due to a red card against Augsburg in the Round of 16. For Wolfsburg, Vaclav Pilar and ex BVB man Ivan Perisic are out.

Probable Lineup:

Manuel Neuer

Philipp Lahm- Daniel Van Buyten- Dante Bonfim- David Alaba

Bastian Schweinsteiger- Luiz Gustavo

Arjen Robben- Xherdan Shaqiri- Thomas Müller

Mario Gomez/Mario Mandzukic

Finally, before I sign off, I hope that those of you who are from Boston are doing fine.

Ladies and gentlemen, Berlin awaits! As always, thanks for reading!

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