Created on 08-03-2014 at 17:19 PM
Bayern warmed up in superb style for Tuesday’s European showdown against Arsenal with a record-breaking 16th straight Bundesliga win on Saturday, although fifth-placed VfL Wolfsburg put up stiff resistance for a long spell before capitulating in the face of the champions’ stunning five-goal onslaught after the hour. Philipp Lahm and his men are just one match short of going 50 league games undefeated and by the time the round of fixtures is completed on Sunday will lead the standings by at least 20 points with ten matches to go.
The 30,000 capacity crowd at the VW Arena saw an entertainingly high-paced and open first half, with Brazilian defender Naldo and fit-again Xherdan Shaqiri trading goals in the 17th and 26th minutes. The champions had their hands full but put up a terrific fight in the second half, regaining the initiative and settling the match in a whirlwind eight-minute period just after the hour with goals from Thomas Müller, sub Mario Mandzukic and Franck Ribery. The Wolves’ resistance was broken now and Mandzukic and Müller completed a brace each to make the scoreline truly emphatic by the end.
A 22nd win from 24 matches means FCB now have 68 points, currently 23 clear of Dortmund prior to BVB’s meeting with Freiburg on Sunday. The Bavarians now entertain Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday before welcoming Bayer Leverkusen to the Allianz Arena next Saturday evening.
Five changes, Götze rested
With every man in the FCB squad bar Holger Badstuber fit and available for selection, Guardiola made five changes to the team from last week’s 5-1 thrashing of Schalke. Jerome Boateng, Lahm, Shaqiri, Ribery and Müller took over from Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Götze, Thiago and ex-Wolf Mandzukic, with Götze rested entirely and not even on the bench.
The champions started with a previously unseen line-up of Manuel Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Dante, Boateng and David Alaba in defence, captain Lahm and Toni Kroos in holding positions, Ribery and Arjen Robben out wide, Shaqiri in a roving role, and Müller at centre-forward.
Wolves boss Dieter Hecking reacted to his team’s heavy 6-2 defeat away to Hoffenheim last week with an attacking formation centred on costly winter acquisition Kevin de Bruyne and Dutch striker Bas Dost, with former FCB idol Ivica Olic among the subs.
Honours even at half-time
There was a scare in the morning when a large-scale power cut in Wolfsburg threatened to force a cancellation, but the fault was rectified and referee Tobias Welz whistled the match underway on time in bright spring sunshine and pleasant temperatures. Hecking’s men showed intent from the start against the unfamiliar Reds line-up and the sides cancelled each other out with pressing high up the field at both ends.
Robben had the ball in the net after 11 minutes only to be ruled offside and home keeper Diego Banaglio denied his Swiss international team-mate Shaqiri, but the Wolves struck the first blow when Naldo beat Alaba to De Bruyne’s 17th-minute centre after FCB failed to clear a corner.
That seemed to spark Guardiola’s men into action and a spell of pressure paid off in the 26th minute when Shaqiri equalised after a scramble in the box: Patrick Ochs initially cleared off the line from both Dante and Alaba, but Shaqiri steered goalwards and the ball was over the line before Benaglio clawed it clear, Müller netting the rebound just to make sure.
Benaglio saved from Shaqiri and Robben whacked a drive just too high as FCB chased the lead, but Wolfsburg had their moments too and both Alaba and Boateng made important blocks to stop Dost and Maximilian Arnold. De Bruyne struck the last chance before half-time weakly into Neuer’s arms before the sides turned round with the score 1-1.
Match-winning eight-minute blitz
Daniel Caligiuri and Shaqiri loosed off sighters at either end, Robin Knoche volleyed into the side-netting, and Naldo headed wide as the second half began as entertainingly as the first ended. Guardiola reacted to the home side's spell of pressure by replacing Shaq and Kroos with Thiago and Mandzukic before the hour.
Robben scooped over the bar from a free-kick routine patently taken straight from the training ground, Ivan Perisic guided an effort across the face of Neuer’s goal, and Müller blazed into the crowd from close range as the action continued unabated.
But then the FCB subs applied a decisive spin to the game in a glorious eight-minute period of attacking football. On 63 minutes Thiago supplied a slide-rule pass for Müller to round Benaglio and side-foot over the line, before Mandzukic drove home first time from a Rafinha cross three minutes later, and Ribery netted with a powerful 71st-minute shot after Robben danced his way round Benaglio and unselfishly laid the ball off for his team-mate.
With Wolves heads finally going down in the last quarter of an hour Guardiola’s men cut through the ragged defensive lines at will and made it a rout, Robben crossing for Müller to head home the fifth on 78 minutes and Mandzukic stretching at the back stick two minutes later to prod in the sixth with Müller turning provider.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley