This was by far the most fun Bayern Munich match since their 3-1 defeat of Manchester City. What started out with end to end keeper bomb soccer, aided by two teams aggressive and effective high presses, eventually gave way to one way Bayern Munich traffic as the Bavarians absolutely annihilated VfL Wolfsburg in the last half hour of the match.
The entire first half was defined by each sides respective high presses as they sought to stamp their influence on the match. Ultimately the game descended into fast counterattacks from Wolfsburg while Bayern struggled mightily with their possession based game. Following a set piece clearance, a brillaint control from Rodirguez gave him the perfect opportunity to dish the ball to Kevin de Bruyne who caught the Bayern Munich defense in transition long enough to give Naldo a nearly uncontested header at the back post. With that it was 1-0 to Wolfsburg in the 17th minute. As the half wound on, Bayern were unable to control the ball with any modicum of skill and were the subjects of counterattack after counterattack as Wolfsburg pressed to get their second.
A 26th minute set piece for Bayern say both sides engage in a game of 6-yard box ping pong before Thomas Müller put the ball away to level the score. Ultimately, the goal will be credited to Xherdan Shaqiri whose second shot crossed the line before being clawed back by Benaglio, only for Müller to slot it home.
The rest of the first half and the first 10+ minutes of the second half passed in much the same fashion as Bayern Munich, especially Toni Kroos and Xherdan Shaqiri, continued to struggle in possession. Cheap giveaways were met with Wolfsburg counterattack after counterattack.
Until both players were withdrawn in lieu of Thiago Alcantara and Mario Mandzukic. Not long after they altered up the dynamic of their attack., Thiago Alcantara threaded a brillaint, perfectly weighted throughball between 3 defenders that hit Thomas Müller in stride to give the Bavarians the 2-1 lead. They added their third through Mandzukic and a great cross from Thomas Müller a few minutes later.
Bringing in Javi Martinez, the Spanish duo in the double pivot dropped the hammer on Wolfsburg and set Bayern Munich on 3 great counters to bring the score up to 6-1 on the evening through a goal each from Ribery, Müller, and Mandzukic.
In the bigger picture, this match was less Bayern Munich controlling the match, and more them being able to withstand 60 minutes of high pressure, counterattacking football and be able to capitalize on their opponents exhaustion as the game winds down. That's a skill they haven't really had to demonstrate this year that was so vital to their success last season under Jupp Heynckes. This season has been defined more by early 2 goal leads and properly finishing out games.
- Thomas Müller picked up assists, 13 and 14, to go along with goals 21 and 22 on the season. He was very quiet in the first half with the problems in transitioning play up to him by both Shaqiri and Kroos, but as soon as Mandzukic came on, the German internationals off the ball movement and rotation with Robben and Mandzukic was absolutely sublime and breathtaking to behold. Game bonus: Special power awkward header was deployed to great effect.
- Rafinha and David Alaba had an extremely rough day as Wolfsburg pinned them back and walked all over them down the flanks for the first 60 minutes. In many ways, their inability to contribute to the attack, left Shaqiri isolated in the center trying to dictate play which didn't work. While Shaqiri definitely didn't have his best day, he was also trying to do it by himself.
- Toni Kroos was off. Going 90 mid-week for Germany in that extremely tough match against Chile really took its toll on him. His passing was not as crisp, his longballs were frequently way off target, and his defensive work rate was definitely sub-par.
- Manuel Neuer is only credited with two saves by WhoScored, but was everywhere inside the box, gobbling up the ball and ending Wolfsburg counterattacks. It was an absolutely stellar game from the man in blue and one we should remember when we want to talk about everything he does so well that's not highlight reel saves.