Under fire players made a statement
Niko Kovac’s men have been under scrutiny following a poor run of form and many of the veterans have been the subject of ire. Mats Hummels has likely had it the worst, being criticized for performances domestically and on international duty. The German defender put on a dominating display that include two key passes and a beautiful assist from a through ball to Robert Lewandowski, as well as two interceptions and four clearances on the defensive end of the pitch. He looked like the defender many believed was the best in the world last year.
Arjen Robben and Javi Martinez have also take flack from fans, including me. Javi provided much needed stability in the midfield, while Robben was creative and energetic all afternoon, before he was sent off with a questionable second yellow (the dive was pretty awful for the first yellow). Martinez contributed two tackles and two interceptions which allowed his counterparts to press and attack more aggressively, while the Dutch international played a key pass and provided a threat on the right wing throughout. These two may have been written off a little too soon.
Manuel Neuer silenced the haters
Another veteran under fire showed why he is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest keeper of all time. After hitting out at the doubters this week, Manuel Neuer backed up his words on the pitch. He wasn’t called into action all too often, but his presence on the ball and his and awareness got Bayern Munich out of a few sticky situations. He was confident coming out and he made a massive step on his return to form. He set the tone for a solid defensive performance even when Bayern went a man down. No clean sheet for the German international, but that is of no fault of his own.
Gnabry and James need to start
Serge Gnabry and James Rodriguez need to be on the field. Gnabry terrorized the Wolfsburg back line, taking on defenders and getting in behind. He put in a few dangerous balls and had a solo effort from distance blocked. The score sheet does not do his performance justice as his presence and movement created openings for the likes of Robert Lewandowski, James Rodriguez and Thiago.
James Rodriguez is too talented not to be one of the first names on the team sheet. I only wish Kovac would consider playing him and Thomas Muller at the same time. The Colombian international put on a display many Bayern fans have become accustomed to, with a goal, a key pass, 85% pass accuracy, and a solid defensive contribution, the world class playmaker chipped away at the Wolfsburg defense. His intelligence on the ball is an asset that has been underutilized by the Croatian manager, but hopefully this performance is a step in the right direction.
Lewy did Lewy things
This was a classic Robert Lewandowski display. Two goals, one assist, constant movement and a hunger to be involved in the attack led the way for the Bavarian giants. He looked to set the tone immediately and will himself into the game. Although he did receive quality service on the afternoon, his pressing was responsible for the second goal and Wolfsburg struggled to mark him all afternoon. It seems as though Lewy circles the matches with the Volkswagen-backed club on the calendar each year because he definitely brings his A-game.
Wolfsburg’s goal raises the same concerns
Alas, following a relatively positive performance, Wolfsburg’s goal following the dismissal of Arjen Robben raises many of the same concerns Bayern fans had during the recent dip in form. Yes, Die Roten were a man down, and yes, the Wolfsburg counter-attack was a thing of beauty, but the high defensive line and failure of the midfield to track back left Manu, Hummels, and Sule hanging out to dry. These mental lapses have cost The Rekordmeister for years now and it will be vital to minimize these mistakes if they want to go on a run both in the Bundesliga and in Europe.