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Bayern Munich’s stuttering form has thrown the Bundesliga title race wide open
Wolfsburg have shot up the standings recently, but they lost last weekend
This promises to be an entertaining encounter at the Volkswagen Arena
The odds for Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich come courtesy of the FanDuel sportsbook, where you can get a $1000 no-sweat bet.
The Wolves are flying high, notwithstanding a slip-up last weekend, and home advantage means they can avoid defeat by out-of-form Bayern Munich.
Back Wolfsburg or draw in the double chance market. (+120)
Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a game in hand on Manchester City. Barcelona could move eight points in advance of Real Madrid in La Liga this week. Napoli are threatening to run away with the Serie A title, with second-placed Inter currently 13 points off the pace.
As such, the closest title races in Europe’s top five leagues are in Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga. That is hugely unexpected. Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich have dominated those two divisions in recent years. They were widely expected to triumph in France and Germany respectively with a minimum of fuss this term too.
PSG’s lead in Ligue 1 has been trimmed to three points of late, while Bayern are now just one point ahead of Union Berlin in second. The Bundesliga is much tighter than any of the aforementioned leagues right now: six sides are separated by just five points, going all the way down to Eintracht Frankfurt in the final Europa League qualification spot.
The gap could get even smaller soon, with seventh-placed Wolfsburg (more on whom shortly) having risen through the division with impressive speed.
Bayern only have themselves to blame. They have not won any of their three games since the season resumed post-World Cup 2022 and post-winter break. They have not lost any either, but three 1-1 draws in a row have allowed the likes of Union, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, Freiburg, and Frankfurt to get closer to the champions.
The best online sportsbooks still have Julian Nagelsmann’s men down as strong favorites - and rightly so. Despite their present predicament, it would be a huge surprise if Bayern did not go on to win the title by a pretty comfortable margin. Right now, though, there is everything to play for.
Wolfsburg also dropped points at the weekend, as they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Werder Bremen. Broadly speaking, though, the Wolves are a team on the up. Remarkably, they had won six matches on the bounce before being edged out by Werder, a run that stretched all the way back to the end of October.
That is some turnaround. After game-week seven in Germany, Wolfsburg were second-bottom of the standings and in the relegation zone. Going down never really seemed like a genuine possibility, but Champions League qualification was from their minds back then too.
Wolfsburg then stabilized by registering a victory over Stuttgart and then drawing three games in a row, before that winning run started just over three months ago. Four of those victories came before the World Cup, including a 2-0 success against Borussia Dortmund, and two came after - a 6-0 thumping of Freiburg and a 5-0 thrashing of Hertha Berlin, both last month.
As those scorelines suggest, Niko Kovac’s side have been playing some sensational soccer at times, combining thrilling attacking with resolute defending. They will need to recapture that combination for the visit of Bayern to the Volkswagen Arena this weekend.
Kovac has added motivation given his past links with the Bavarian outfit. The German-Croatian spent around a year and a half in charge of Bayern, during which time he won the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal without ever really impressing.
Kovac will be determined to show Bayern what they are missing out on, although his current side start the match as underdogs despite Bayern’s recent stutters.
Wolfsburg should still be reasonably confident when Bayern come to town. Despite that slip-up against Werder last weekend, they are the form team in the division over the last seven rounds of fixtures in Germany’s top tier.
Bayern have not been at their best in their last few matches, but they are nevertheless capable of blowing any team away on their day. Yet that will probably not happen on Sunday. That is not to say an away win is not possible, but Bayern will likely have to grind it out if they are to emerge triumphant.
Given the odds available, it is tempting to bet against the reigning champions. Wolfsburg’s loss to Werder came on the road, which means they have still only lost one home game all campaign, a 4-2 defeat by Koln in early September.
Bayern are something of a wounded animal and Wolfsburg’s best chance of picking up a positive result is by going on the attack. They must be sensible about it, of course, but the type of balanced display they have produced in recent weeks should help them to avoid defeat here.
Take a look at the double chance market and back Wolfsburg or draw for Sunday’s showdown at the Volkswagen Arena.
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Teams: Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich
Location: Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany
Time: Sunday 5 February 2023, 11.30 am 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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