Created on 28-09-2013 at 17:20 PM
The second home game of the 180th Oktoberfest ended in a tight but deserved second win for Bayern, as Pep Guardiola’s men showed great patience to overcome stubborn and well-organised VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday. Thomas Müller was the hero on the day with the match-winning second-half goal as FCB extended their unbeaten league run to 32 games and posted a morale-boosting success prior to Wednesday’s challenging but enticing Champions League trip to Manchester City.
The champions struggled for first-half openings in front of the customary 71,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena as the hard-working visitors set out their defensive stall, but the home side hit the gas in the second half and Müller opened the scoring with just over an hour played. It was never vintage from the treble winners, but the win was the important thing on the day.
With Borussia Dortmund comfortable winners at home to Freiburg, the victory in Munich means FCB remain joint top of the standings on 19 points but just behind BVB on goal difference. The Bavarians now travel to the north-west of England for the prestige clash with City in midweek, before returning to league duty the following Saturday away to third-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
Rested stars return
In terms of his line-up, Guardiola restored the five men he rested for the midweek 4-1 cup victory over Hannover. Daniel van Buyten and Diego Contento gave way to Jerome Boateng and David Alaba in defence, with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery returning on the flanks in place of Toni Kroos and Xherdan Shaqiri, and Mario Mandzukic taking over from Claudio Pizarro. Mario Götze took a seat on the bench for the first time since recovering from injury.
It meant the treble winners started with Manuel Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Boateng, Dante and Alaba in defence, Philipp Lahm anchoring the midfield, Robben and Ribery on the wings, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller in the centre, and ex-Wolves regular Mandzukic up front.
VfL boss Dieter Hecking, mindful of his club’s horror record in the Bavarian capital of no wins and 18 defeats in 19 previous visits, picked two former FCB stars in his starting formation. Ivica Olic led the forward line, and the holding role was filled by Luiz Gustavo, who received a belated official send-off and a bouquet from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß prior to kick-off.
Once referee Bastian Dankert whistled play underway, the home side attempted to turn the screw at once, but the first chance fell to the men in green as Gustavo tested Neuer with a header from a corner. The Bavarians, appropriately clad in their Lederhosen-look kit for Oktoberfest Saturday, had trouble finding gaps in the Wolves’ compact defence early on, and the next shot anywhere near the target was Marcel Schäfer’s speculative effort after a 19th-minute corner.
Guardiola’s men camped out around their opponents’ penalty area now, Alaba driving a free-kick past the upright and any number of dangerous crosses failing to find a taker, before Mandzukic hared onto a quick throw-in but saw his centre deflected for a corner. Robben’s free-kick from the right somehow evaded the crowd of players in front of VfL keeper Diego Benaglio and span past the far post, before Olic produced a desperate lunge on his own six-yard line to deny Robben in the 41st minute in what was FCB’s best chance of the goalless first half.
Thomas breaks the deadlock
Alaba curled a trademark free-kick narrowly off target early in the second period, and the home team upped the pressure in the 51st minute, Mandzukic just failing to connect with a Müller lay-off, Schweinsteiger miskicking with the goal at his mercy, and Robben seeing his goalbound shot smothered. However, Munich were occasionally careless in possession, and former Germany international Schäfer headed over from close range on a Wolfsburg counter-attack.
Guardiola sent on Kroos and Shaqiri for Schweinsteiger and Robben on the hour, and the measure brought an instant return as Shaq combined well with Ribery to set up Müller for a skilful far-post finish and the lead after 63 minutes. Both Kroos and Mandzukic might have done better with half-chances as Munich went for the killer second goal, but Naldo cleared Mandzu’s 80th-minute shot off the line with Banaglio already beaten. Neuer dived to save Naldo’s 84th-minute header as the Wolves launched a late salvage operation, prompting Guardiola to bring on Jan Kirchhoff for Mandzukic with five minutes left, the big man playing his part in shoring up the midfield and protecting the lead through to the final whistle.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley