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The odds for Bayern Munich vs Wolfsburg are brought to you by the DraftKings sportsbook.
This should be a straightforward encounter for Julian Nagelsmann’s side, who can keep Wolfsburg’s attack quiet.
Back a Bayern Munich clean sheet (+105)
Pick made on 08/11/2022 at 06:24 PM EST
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Robert who? Bayern Munich showed there is life after Lewandowski after all, as they thrashed Eintracht Frankfurt 6-1 on the opening weekend of the new season. Their opponents, lest we forget, won the Europa League last term and will be in pot one of this month’s Champions League group stage draw. They are, in short, a fine team. But Bayern dismantled them at their own stadium, as Julian Nagelsmann’s new tactical system reaped immediate rewards.
Nagelsmann has been working hard over the summer. Having trialed a back three in the second half of last term (with mixed results), the Bayern boss has once again shown himself to be a flexible, astute tactician by shifting to a 4-2-2-2 formation at the start of 2022/23.
It is the type of shape that would not be as effective with Lewandowski up front, but watching Bayern play with such fluidity and dynamism last weekend showed why Nagelsmann is said to have pushed for the club to sell the Poland international once he made it clear he no longer wanted to be at the Allianz Arena.
We should not rewrite history after one game. Lewandowski averaged more than a goal per game across his final three seasons in Munich, and he remains one of the best players in the world. But his exit will not necessarily make Bayern a worse team. With Serge Gnabry and Sadio Mane up top, they still possess a significant goal threat in attack. The 4-2-2-2 setup also allows both Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala to get into No.10 positions between the lines of the opposition’s midfield and defense.
Bayern are likely to win the Bundesliga title for the 11th season in a row, so we can probably only judge this new system on its effectiveness in European competition. Nagelsmann will be happy with what he has seen so far, though, and Bayern have another chance to show off their new-look attack against Wolfsburg this weekend.
Last season was a rollercoaster ride for Wolfsburg. They began with four straight wins which persuaded many of the club’s fans that Mark van Bommel’s team were about to challenge for a top-four finish. But things unraveled quickly.
A four-match winless streak left Van Bommel out of a job by the end of October. Results got worse before they got better under Florian Kohfeldt, who oversaw six consecutive defeats to leave the Wolves looking nervously over their shoulders at the midway point of the season.
The club will be hoping for a calmer, more stable season this time around. Niko Kovac, the former Bayern manager, has been appointed in place of Kohfeldt. He has encouraged his team to play proactive soccer with a high defensive line and more intense pressing, although we can expect a deeper block on Sunday with Bayern standing in their way.
Qualifying for the Europa League or the Europa Conference League should be the aim for Wolfsburg this term. The club has looked to bring the average age of the squad down over the summer, recruiting young players like Jakub Kamiński, Mattias Svanberg and Bartol Franjic. Wolfsburg seem to be moving in the right direction, but a 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen on matchday one shows that there is still work to do.
Bayern were 5-0 up at half-time of their meeting with Frankfurt last time out, in effect ending the match as a contest after 45 minutes. They naturally let their control slip a little after the break, but Frankfurt still only managed two shots on target all game despite being at home. Their expected goals tallied up to 0.76, which suggests that Bayern were a little unfortunate not to keep a clean sheet.
It is clear that the 4-2-2-2 formation is intended to bring the best out of Bayern as an attacking force. It allows Nagelsmann to get each of Gnabry, Mane, Musiala and Muller into the same team, and encourages the full-backs – particularly Alphonso Davies on the left – to get forward and join the attack at every opportunity. Against the very best teams, Bayern could be defensively vulnerable.
In the Bundesliga, though, they should be able to keep most opponents at arm’s length. Wolfsburg will try to hit Bayern on the counter-attack whenever they can, but that is easier said than done.
Perversely, their best chance of finding the net would be to concede four or five goals and hope Bayern take their eye off the ball – a strategy, needless to say, that Kovac will not be adopting. Back the hosts to keep a clean sheet here
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|Teams||Bayern Munich vs Wolfsburg|
|Location||Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany|
|Time||Sunday, 14 August 2022, 11.30AM EST|
|How to watch||ESPN+|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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