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VfL Wolfsburg vs. Bayern Munich: Fixture, TV Schedule & Match Preview

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While a potential six-point swing will be the endgame for both of these teams, the underlying meaning of this match will be something else entirely.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The match on Friday between Bayern and Wolfsburg will not be about the recommencement of one of the top leagues in Europe. It will not be about the potential gap between the Bundesliga's top two teams. The narrative of this match will run much deeper than the football.

This is the first match Wolfsburg will take the field without Junior Malanda, who passed away earlier this month in a car accident. He will be on the minds and in the hearts of all the players on the field, and the pregame ceremony and the honorary armbands will be surface reminders of what the players are actually feeling.

The passion that will be on display will be breathtaking, making a potential six point swing a footnote in what will be an emotional 90 minutes. Unfortunately, both teams have a job to do, and the ripples of the result could spread over the next four months.

The Match (40th Meeting)

Location: Volkswagen-Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany

Referees
Head: Tobias Welz
FC Bayern: 7 W, 1 D, 0 L – 6 YC

Assistants: Rafael Foltyn, Martin Thomsen 
Fourth Official: Tobias Stieler

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

Television and Streaming:
US: GolTV, MyGermanTV+
Canada: GolTV
UK: BT Sport 2
Germany: ARD Das Erste, Sky Go
Other Countries

The Fixture

Form

FC Bayern: WWWWW
Wolfsburg: WDDWW

2014/15 Meetings

Bayern Munich (2-1) VfL Wolfsburg | Bunesliga (Allianz Arena)
FCB: Thomas Müller (37’), Robben (47’)
WOB: Ivica Olić (52’)

Records

Bundesliga: 28 W, 4 D, 3 L
DFB-Pokal: 4 W, 0 D, 0 L

Largest Victory: 6-1 (Bundesliga: March 8, 2014, Wolfsburg; DFB-Pokal: April 16, 2013, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 1-5 (Bundesliga: April 4, 2009, Wolfsburg)

The Squad

Bayern's lead is already significant in the Bundesliga, and they have a strong footing in every competition they are currently in, but Pep Guardiola will not take this match lightly. The league is the top priority in his mind, and the opportunity to swing six points to kick off the Rückrunde is too tantalizing to ignore.

The only thing that is standing in Bayern's way is the problem that has been ailing them all season: the fitness of key players. Sport Bild reported Wednesday that Franck Ribéry and Rafinha will not be able to take part in Bayern's first match of 2015, both experiencing bumps and bruises that will keep them out at least the Rückrunde opener. Guardiola's solution to Ribéry's absence seems straight-forward with the luxury of Mario Götze, but the fullback issue has several contingencies that are a big queasy.

The report suggested that perhaps Sebastian Rode or Mitchell Weiser would step up to take Rafinha's mantel. The issue with relying on one of those two options is neither have fullback experience in a match with any magnitude attached to it. Meanwhile, Jérôme Boateng has played several matches for Bayern and two FIFA World Cups for Germany as a fullback The return of Mehdi Benatia and Holger Badstuber to full health gives Guardiola the luxury of moving Boateng out to the flank in an emergency such as this.

Friday will also be just the second opportunity that Xabi Alonso and Bastian Schweinsteiger have start next to each other, and the first as a holding midfield duo. The two have already complemented each other perfectly, and the prospect of them roaming the same midfield is salivating to say the least. The way the two maneuver the play in midfield could be key for Bayern in the match, and will be an exciting preview of what could be to come for Bayern in 2015.

After dominating their friendly opponents, Bayern will look to translate that success to what could be the biggest match of the remaining Bundesliga season, one that could lock up their 25th Bundesliga title.

Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):

Robert Lewandowski

Mario Götze – Thomas Müller – Arjen Robben

Xabi Alonso – Bastian Schweinsteiger

Juan Bernat – Dante – Mehdi Benatia – Jérôme Boateng

Manuel Neuer

Bench: Pepe Reina, David Alaba, Holger Badstuber, Mitchell Weiser, Sebastian Rode, Gianluca Gaudino, Claudio Pizarro

Out/Suspended: Philipp Lahm (ankle), Javi Martínez (knee), Rafinha (ligament tear), Franck Ribéry (muscular injury), Thiago Alcântara (knee)

The Opponent

Wolfsburg traveled to Munich at the beginning of the season and showed right off the bat how they deserved to be mentioned among the top teams in Germany. Their performance since that match has backed that assertion since, soaring towards the top of the Bundesliga while also handling the workload several competitions.

Now Wolfsburg host the defending champions an improved team. Kevin De Bruyne and Ricardo Rodriguez have ascended further into Europe's elite, both playing at world class levels. Naldo and Robin Knoche are having career years themselves, contributing to one of the best goals allowed records in the Bundesliga.

With a thin roster and a busy schedule, Dieter Hecking now needs to make sure he nails his tactics, especially in the middle of the park. The third-year manager will have to assemble a midfield duo with spare parts from other positions, and his assembly might have to include young and untested midfielder Maximilian Arnold. His solution will determine the flow of the game, and profoundly affect the methodical buildup play Wolfsburg has become known for.

Bas Dost will have to lead the line with the personnel turnover turmoil in attack. Ivica Olić, one of only four players to find the back of the net against Bayern this season, is on his way to Hamburger SV as Wolfsburg try to pry André Schürrle away from Chelsea. With the less-potent Dost, Ivan Perisić and Vieirinha will have to manufacture a lot of chances themselves if Wolfsburg want to find the breakthrough(s) they need.

With Malanda fresh in their memories, we will see a level of passion and unity that will make for a spectacle that extends beyond the Volkswagen-Arena pitch.

Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):

Bas Dost

Ivan Perisić – Kevin de Bruyne – Vieirinha

Luiz Gustavo – Maximilian Arnold

Ricardo Rodriguez – Naldo – Robin Knoche – Sebastian Jung

Diego Benaglio

Bench: Max Grün, Timm Klose, Marcel Schäfer, Paul Seguin, Aaron Hunt, Daniel Caligiuri, Niklas Bendtner

Out/Suspended: Felipe (apoplexy), Joshua Guilavogui (groin, suspended), Patrick Ochs (shin)

The Outcome

Fresh off their breaks, this will be the toughest and most paramount battle for both of these teams in the Rückrunde. Wolfsburg will not afford Bayern the space that they have allowed to other teams in the past, making it difficult for Bayern  to manufacture a potent scoring chance. How Wolfsburg exploit Guardiola's fullback solution could help create the goal that Wolfsburg could lean on, but a fully fit Bayern defense is difficult to beat. The passion in this match will exude profusely over the course of 90 minutes, and Bayern's desire for victory may not be enough.

Projected Score: VfL Wolfsburg (1-1) Bayern Munich

The Other Action

Bundesliga

FC Schalke 04 vs. Hannover 96 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs. SC Paderborn 07 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
SC Freiburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
VfB Stuttgart vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hamburger SV vs. 1. FC Köln (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. Borussia Dortmund (Saturday 12:30 PM ET)
SV Werder Bremen vs. Hertha Berliner SC (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
FC Augsburg vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)

The Table

Team W D L F A GD Pts.
Bayern Munich 14 3 0 41 4 +37 45
VfL Wolfsburg 10 4 3 33 17 +16 34
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 7 7 3 28 20 +8 28
Borussia Mönchengaldbach 7 6 4 25 16 +9 27
FC Schalke 04 8 3 6 28 21 +7 27
FC Augsburg 9 0 8 22 21 +1 27
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 7 5 5 29 25 +4 26
Hannover 96 7 3 7 21 26 -5 24
Eintracht Frankfurt 6 5 6 34 34 0 23
SC Paderborn 07 4 7 6 21 26 -5 19
1. FC Köln 5 4 8 17 23 -6 19
1. FSV Mainz 05 3 9 5 19 23 -4 18
Hertha Berliner SC 5 3 9 24 35 -11 18
Hamburger SV 4 5 8 9 19 -10 17
VfB Stuttgart 4 5 8 20 32 -12 17
SV Werder Bremen 4 5 8 26 39 -13 17
Borussia Dortmund 4 3 10 18 26 -8 15
SC Freiburg 2 9 6 17 25 -8 15