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Preview: Bayern Munich hosts Wolfsburg for Friday fun

The Wolves better keep their Volkswagen running in the parking garage.

VfL Wolfsburg v Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images

After demolishing Schalke in an impressive midweek display at the Veltins Arena, Bayern Munich returns to the friendly confines of the Allianz Arena where they will host Wolfsburg, caught as ever in the midst of unrelenting chaos. To say Bayern is favored to win is an understatement (Robert Lewandowski has scored 10 goals in the last four games against Wolfsburg!), but Wolfsburg is capable of some surprises.

Bayern can wing it

Carlo Ancelotti surprised many this past Tuesday with his decision to rotate so many players for Bayern's 3-0 romp over Schalke. He now can rotate again to take advantage of the bevy of well-rested stars at his disposal.

That means above all a return to full-fledged wings: the team that will line up against Wolfsburg will probably feature the return of Robbery. Here is how I imagine Ancelotti might capitalize on his rested players and line up the team:

Ulreich; Rafinha, Hummels, Boateng, Kimmich; Vidal, Tolisso; Ribery, Müller (James?), Robben; Lewandowski

Franck Ribery may spontaneously combust if he is not allowed back on the field soon, and Arjen Robben has had a few days to get over the flu. Both of them should start, giving Kingsley Coman and James Rodriguez a respite.

Of course, Ancelotti may be tempted to start James again after his outstanding performance, giving Thomas Müller the day off instead. We shall see.

The situation in the midfield is slightly more complicated: Thiago suffered a minor knock to the pelvis and will return to team training on Monday. That means Ancelotti will probably choose Vidal and one of either Corentin Tolisso (he took a knock against Schalke but is fine) or Sebastian Rudy. Perhaps Rudy will sit after playing a full 90 minutes against Schalke.

On the back line, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng can test their readiness ahead of Bayern's marquee clash with Paris Saint-Germain next week. And, of course, Rafinha on the left and Joshua Kimmich on the right are locks. Sven Ulreich will stand between the sticks.

Wolfsburg: new coach, same bad luck

If you remember Wolfsburg virtually imploding after selling Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City, suffice it to say they are still reeling from that transaction. They survived relegation last season, thanks in large part to a revived Mario Gomez, but Gomez tore ligaments in his ankle on matchday 3 and will be recovering for months.

Add to that drama coaching turnover: Wolfsburg unceremoniously dumped head coach Andries Jonker on Monday after losing 0-1 to Stuttgart this past Saturday. His replacement for their game on Tuesday was none other than Martin Schmidt, who was dismissed by Mainz after last season. Schmidt is a very good coach, but he is not a miracle worker, and Wolfsburg may need divine intervention to survive this season. Schmidt's new team drew 1-1 with Werder Bremen.

Gomez's injury leaves 22-year-old Divock Origi, who Wolfsburg just picked up on loan from Liverpool, as their primary striker. He now faces immense pressure to perform, but also an unparalleled opportunity to succeed. He scored his first goal for Wolfsburg against Bremen on Tuesday; a goal against Bayern Munich would certainly turn heads.

Origi will have help in one of Schmidt's favorite players, Yunus Malli, who was sold out from under him by Mainz last season. Malli is a versatile, dangerous player who plays behind the striker or on the right, but not pronouncedly wide out. He took the most shots in Wolfsburg's last game and is a sharpshooter on set-pieces. Andries didn't know what to do with him; Schmidt will make him the most important player on the team.

Here is how Schmidt may line up the Wolves:

Casteels; Gerhardt, Uduokhai, Knoche, Verhaegh; Arnold, Camacho; Dimata, Didavi, Malli; Origi

One reason why Martin Schmidt's teams play exciting soccer is his willingness to attack (he coached Mainz to its recent 2-1 and 2-2 results at the Allianz). He played a 4-2-3-1 against Bremen, and may well throw caution to the wind against Bayern, too.

If they can win the space, Didavi and Malli will overlap heavily in the advanced midfield as they try to service Origi. Bayern may still be the overwhelming favorite, but this Wolfsburg team can punish any complacency.

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