In Match Week 19 of the 2011-2012 Bundesliga season. Everyone already knows, but just to hit all the necessary weekly notes: Bayern comes off a disheartening 3-1 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach, in which offense, midfield, defense, and (especially) goalkeeping failed to measure up to Bayern standards. Still, we sit at the top of the table, and a victory here would correct a lot of problems. The Wolves have a -10 goal differential, yet still somehow sit in 9th place after winning back-to-back 1-0 games. Climb aboard for the preview, y'all.
Most importantly: Ribery is said to be set to return. Franck just finished his suspension, and also was limited this week with a nagging back injury, but assures the club he'll be ready to go. Unless we get any late surprises, we'll finally have Batman and Robben on the wings, with Super Mario up top.
Daniel van Buyten will be nursing his broken foot bone for the next 2 months (a least), so it appears we'll have a Lahm-Badstuber-Boateng-Rafinha back line. Jupp Heynckes doesn't seem to favor Rafinha at RB when everything is going well, but ... whatever. His hand is forced now.
Contento is out - thanks for the correction. If either fullback needs a rest, our options would be either to play Pranjic back there, or to move Boateng to RB (again) and play someone else at CB. More importantly - Breno has been named to the squad list. This doesn't mean, of course, that he's starting, but Jupp Heynckes seems to indicate that he might see some action: "I told him that he's in. That also means that the rubbish he's done is forgotten.''
I have to be honest, I'm somewhat worried about playing Wolfsburg on the same weekend as the premiere of "Liam Neeson Gets Attacked By Wolves." Let's hope Bayern's defense and midfield can metaphorically fasten some broken airline bottles to our knuckles with electrical tape.
If you don't live in the States, ignore that last paragraph.
Anyway. Wolfsburg somehow sits in the top half of the table despite letting up a disappointing 34 goals. In fact, they appear to have allowed multiple goals in half of their 18 matches this season. But, they can threaten you on the offensive end. Mario Mandzukic leads VfL with 8 goals so far this year, and the Croatian has become a fan favorite with his energy and tireless runs. Check it out:
Aside from Mandzukic, Wolfsburg relies on veterans Marcel Schäfer and Christian Träsch, two guys whose umlauts I don't know where to place. Träsch has a few appearances for Die Nationalelf, and is competent enough to at least take advantage of mistakes if we make them (which ... you know). Also, Patrick Helmes is a decently talented striker who had once called off for offside against us in Week 2.
- New word is that Bayern is considering a move for Real Madrid's Pepe. No, this is not part of the "we're going to make a big purchase!" joke - this is a real discussion.
- Badstuber is feeling confident, saying the club has placed "special emphasis" on defending this week.
- Winter has finally arrived to the old country - 33 degrees F at kickoff (1 degree C) tomorrow, with a chance of snow.
- The match will be carried live on EuroSport and ESPN 3. We'll be here before the start with the Match Day thread, and I can add the "chat-n-go" box if there's any interest in that. As always, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we missed or forgot anything. Thanks for reading.