Seven Things We Learned from Wolfsburg – Bayern

Wolfsburg and Bayern drew at the VW Arena in a high-tempo match that was end-to-end and full of drama this weekend. An early fluke goal by Thomas Müller in the 7′ was equalized by Sascha Riether late in the game. In between the early and late book-end goals was a game full of stories. Franck Ribery twisted his knee in the 20′ minute after a clash with Josue. Both teams shook the wood work and both missed penalties that they didn’t deserve, while both were denied goals by the referee that the arguably did deserve. Bayern Munich fell a further two points behind the leaders Dortmund, while Steve McClaren’s job was possibly saved by the 86′ goal.

Wolly with the Brolly

Here are seven musings on the entertaining match.

  • Thomas Kraft looked great in goal. It looks like van Gaal’s decision to use the young keeper is the right one. Although it could be his undoing. The kid looked fantastic in goal and seemed to be more than just a shot-stopper. Shot-stoppers are a dime a dozen in football. The ability to organize a defense and make proper decisions is what separates average from great. Kraft made all the right decisions. The problem is that the front-office wants Schalke’s Manuel Neuer, and now that might not be such a good idea. I doubt having a coach mess up your summer plans will go down well with the egos at Bayern.

  • Some would argue that seeing Messi or Ronaldo with the ball is the greatest image in the game. For me, it’s seeing Marc van Bommel being fouled. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with Bayern Munich and don’t wish to see any of their other players treated roughly. But van Bommel represents everything wrong with football: fouling, diving, cheating, arguing. The sooner Milan buys him, the better the league will be. But until he goes, thanks Josue!

  • This might be more of a question than a statement. During the match, Wolfsburg were getting to the by-line often. The passes made from this position were always excellent in my opinion. They were deeper than the defenders and were placed for a trailing player to blast into the net. But nobody was ever there. It would seem to me that this should have been Diego’s role. However, having taken a year off from the league, I can’t say if this was perhaps a space that Dzeko might have often inhabited. Is that true? Or was it just bad luck? Seems to be something McClaren might want to focus on as there was ample opportunity.

  • Robben can’t do it all. While the possession stats show that Bayern Munich had more of the ball, watching the game didn’t give you that impression. It seemed that the only time Bayern were really eating up possession or pitch was when Robben had the ball. He was the only one for Bayern that was really having a go at the Wolfsburg defense. Granted they lost Ribery early, but there is still enough talent that they should have more in attack. If your only link between the rest of the outfield and the forwards in one player then you are obviously easy to defend. And that seems to be something that van Gaal must focus on.

  • Dzeko’s departure may well pay dividends. McClaren wants a 4-3-3. Dzeko demanded a 4-4-2. A manager that has to change his system to accommodate one player, does no club a favor. With the forward’s departure, they seemed to start the process of converting their tactical shape. While they lack the personnel to play the preferred system, and plan to use the proceeds from Dzeko’s sale to get the right players, for now they seem to be working with a 4-2-3-1, using Cicero and Josue as a double six behind Dejegah, Mandzukic and Diego. If they can get Elia, as has been rumored, then they can have three forwards. Possibly replacing Cicero with a more box-to-box midfielder might help as well.

  • There is nothing worst that a referee that loses the plot during a match. Manuel Gräfe did just that. He allowed the players to boss him. But worse was the way he allowed the questionable offside that disallowed a Diego goal to influence the penalty he awarded when Dejegah dove. It could be argued both ways that the goal that went through Kraft’s hands should or should not have been allowed. So if there is a case, there is not need for a make-up call to right a wrong. Luckily Kraft saved the penalty to preserve the match’s integrity.

  • With Bayern drawing and Dortmund taking out their other closes competitor, Bayer, over the weekend, it’s over. Or is it? It’s a big lead, but two years ago Hoffenheim returned from the break as Herbstmeiser and won their first match, 2-0 over Energie Cottbus (I miss them). Yet, they lost the league to a red-hot Wolfsburg that year. They didn’t even end up in Europe. While Dortmund are a stronger side than that Hoffenheim squad, everyone (including myself) should realize that there is a lot of time left in the most competitive league in Europe. But for Uli Hesse’s sake, I hope they hold on :)

10 thoughts on “Seven Things We Learned from Wolfsburg – Bayern”

  1. “Pos­si­bly replac­ing Cicero with a more box-to-box mid­fielder might help as well.”

    The 18 year old Cigerci has been impressive and would continue to grow under McClaren. He was heavily involved in the build up to the equalizer and more so he is fast, intelligent and aggressive. He kept Munich’s attacks being run through the middle.

    Most exciting thing about the 2nd half of Bundesliga: European and relegation spots: 2nd to 6th plus the three relegation spots. THAT IS WHERE THE DRAMA IS.

    The relagtion battle will be the most intense battle in Bundesliga history and I am not sure any of these team will not be involved in it.

    6. SC Freiburg 18 29
    7. Hamburg SV 18 27
    8. Eintracht Frankfurt 18 26
    9. TSG Hoffenheim 18 25
    10. Kaiserslautern 18 22
    11. Schalke 04 18 22
    12. Nurnberg 18 22
    13. Werder Bremen 18 22
    14. VfL Wolfsburg 18 20
    15. St Pauli 18 18
    16. FC Cologne 18 16
    17. VfB Stuttgart 18 15
    18. Borussia MGladbach 18 13

    To spice it up the bootom three have have all gained points on match day 18.

  2. Yea where’s our reward for being such a great league. Serie A can lose their 3rd guarenteed spot for at least a few jahres folks! :)

  3. Have to disagree on van Bommel. I love the guy. Probably partly because everyone else hates him, but I admire him for a few reasons. He’s a winner, and that can’t be denied. It can’t be coincidence that he happens to be on the field as Bayern & Netherlands have done so well recently. Also, what gets lost in outcry about his fouling is the fact that he can play a little. People like to deny this is true, but this summer in addition to breaking up play, he was also adept at keeping the ball moving for his team, being available, and making the short passes necessary to keep possession.

    Obviously he’s a love him or hate him kind of player, but that blinds a lot of people to the things he does well. While he’s a habitual fouler, he does so for tactical reasons. He’s hardly an intimidator, and he doesn’t injure people by flying out of control into tackles, like de Jong.

    And he’s not going anywhere this month. Milan don’t need him. And he won’t go to a team not playing Champions League football. While he could certainly do a job for Milan, they have Gattuso, Ambrosini & Flamini, and only two of those usually play at any one time.

    If HSV lose RVN, I don’t think they’ll let Elia go. I hope they don’t let either of them go, and that Sammer gets in there ASAP.

    For me, Hanover is the story of the season. To be in 2nd, after what they went through last year, is extraordinary. I hope to god they finish in the top 3. That would be one of the greatest stories in years.

    While it was a promising performance from VfL, we can’t really judge them until they’ve brought in replacements & additions. I wonder if they’ll give Steve McClaren the time to prove himself with the new players. It would be odd, to say the least, for them to buy him several players, then not give him time to get them playing together. They really should’ve had players lined up to sign at the beginning of the month, though. They dealt McClaren a bad hand by giving him a team full of f**kups & bad attitudes. They owe him some time with a better collection of players.

  4. I agree on the van Bommel thought. He always seems stunned to get whistled for a foul or get a card, yet there are at least 2/3 instances each game when he takes down someone and never gets called for it.

    I also agree on Kraft. Wow, he looked solid. Wonder if he can keep that form going. Hope not, because BVB plays such a beautiful game.

  5. Great point David H. Hanover would be a great story I agree. I am still shaken
    And in disbelief at the Enke situation.


    This is the official Bundesliga website. They post several stories daily. Not necessarily “objective” reporting, but all that means is this is news, not commentary. And it’s cool that they put together an English version of their site.

  7. Sorry for the side comment but I love the fact that Gomez is paying
    off now big time…maybe not 25 million euros but at least he’s headed
    in that direction :). He really is a fine striker/striker poacher
    and I am very happy for him and Bayern’s good decision.

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