Groundhog Day for Reds in Wolfsburg

Mario Mandzukic is certainly staking a claim that the rumoured arrival of  Robert Lewandowski is not needed. Photo: FC Bayern MunichThere was something rather repetitive about FC Bayern Munich's 2-0 win away at VfL Wolfsburg on Friday night. The Reds scored the first goal through Mario Mandzukic, then kept the opposition at arm's length before picking them off late on, wrapping up a comfortable win and record another shut-out.

So far in 2013, that has been the story in Stuttgart, Mainz and now Wolfsburg. In all three cases, the home sides began the game well, but such is the quality that Bayern possess all over the pitch that they simply look unbeatable at present.

Dieter Hecking sides tend to be organised and tactically rigid regardless of the opposition, and Friday night was certainly no different. The 'Wolves' played with one up front in Bas Dost, with ex-Bayern winger Ivica Olic supporting from the left and Vierinha from the right.

The problem for the home side - and this was a bi-product of not wishing to push up too high - was that there was little or no support for Dost in the final third, in spite of some useful balls into the box, particularly from the left side.

At the back, however, the effort put in by Wolfsburg was admirable. Missing regular centre-back Simon Kjaer, the partnership of Naldo and Alexander Madlung enjoyed a solid first half in the main. Such is the efficiency of Bayern in their current vein of form however, that really the only example of sloppiness from the home defence in the opening half was punished with a finish that was as spectacular as it was ruthless.

A deep Toni Kroos free kick was headed back into the danger area by Bastian Schweinsteiger and former Wolfsburg favourite Mandzukic swivelled expertly to plant a bicycle kick into the comer from twelve yards. It left Diego Benaglio utterly flabbergasted in the home goal and was proof that this Bayern side can score from just about any situation. It also took Mandzukic to the top of the goalscoring charts with 15 for the season.

The Reds missed an excellent opportunity to double their lead just after the break when Thomas Müller's shot was blocked by Naldo on the goalline, and it gave the home side encouragement. Diego and Vierinha had efforts from range blocked, before the former then forced Neuer into an acrobatic save from a direct free kick, from which Ivan Perisic screwed the rebound wide. Incidentally, the strike was the first on target that Neuer had had to save in over four hours of football.

The effort from Wolfsburg was to be applauded, but there was just too big a gap in quality in the two squads. Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez were thrown on late in the game and it was Robben that settled the points, unleashing all his pent up frustration at his lack of playing time this season into a half-volley from close range after collecting Müller's pass.

The final whistle then sounded to give the Bavarians their fifth consecutive win and clean sheet, a result that takes them 18 points clear at the top of the league. The largest winning margin for a Bundesliga winner is 20 points, achieved by Bayern in 1973, and the earliest that the league has been sewn up is April 26th. Manuel Neuer has conceded just seven times all season - the fewest number in a campaign is 21.

This Bayern team have not yet hit top gear this term, but all of those records already stand in severe jeopardy.

VfL Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Hasebe, Naldo, Madlung, Schäfer - Polak, Diego, Träsch (Fagner, 75') - Olic (Perisic, 65'), Vierinha (Helmes, 75') - Dost

Bayern Munich: Neuer - Lahm, van Buyten, Dante, Alaba - Luiz Gustavo, Schweinsteiger - Ribery, (Robben, 79'), Kroos (Tymoshchuk, 79'), Müller (72' Contento) - Mandzukic (Gomez, 83')

Goals: 1-0 Mandzukic (36'), 0-2 Robben (90')

Attendance: 30,000
Referee: Felix Zwayer


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