Workmanlike Bayern win at Wolfsburg

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Arjen Robben is out of favour at Bayern Munich but helped his cause with a goal against WolfsburgGettyImagesArjen Robben is out of favour at Bayern Munich but helped his cause with a goal against Wolfsburg

The word "workmanlike" has been tossed around at Bayern Munich since the winter break ended, but I think it applies to the 2-0 win at Wolfsburg the best. Mario Mandzukic refused to celebrate his fabulous opening goal in his return to the Volkswagen Arena, before substitute Arjen Robben added a late stunner sending Bayern Munich 18 points clear overnight atop the Bundesliga table.

With Javi Martinez's toe injury, Luis Gustavo would started, partnering Bastian Schweinsteiger in defensive midfield. Jupp Heynckes likely fielded the team he will use against Arsenal on Tuesday evening: Manuel Neuer in goal. Philipp Lahm, Daniel van Buyten, Dante and David Alaba at the back. Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos, and Franck Ribery as attacking midfield, with Manduzkic up top.

Bayern made a lively start and just three minutes in Mueller, surrounded by three Wolves defenders, headed Manduzkic's cross wide. A few minutes later at the other end of the pitch, Bas Dost nearly connected with a cross over the face of the goal, but David Alaba calmly cleared the ball.

It was 18 minutes before Bayern got another real chance on goal. Ribery made the most of a Makoto Hasebe trip ti win a free kick just outside the box. The kick deflected off Mueller, back to Mandzukic who struck it in to the crowd.

The match settled down into a masterclass of resolute defending by Wolfsburg, with a patient Bayern left to press, knocking the ball around to see what would slip through. The Wolves, however, grew increasingly unhappy with their lot. Alexander Madlung saw yellow in the 24th minute, and team-mate Vieirinha was also shown a card- the resulting free kick opening the scoring for Bayern.

Kroos took the kick, and after being cleared Schweinsteiger headed it back in to the box where it found Mandzukic- the Croatian kicking overhead to score one against his former club. In a scare for everyone, he limped off the pitch after the goal, but thankfully returned minutes later.

The second half began with more Bayern pressure: Mueller unable to add to his tally because of a Madlung tackle and a Naldo block. But, as the game drew on, die Woelfe were determined to go down fighting. Their best scoring chance came from a Diego free-kick that got Neuer moving with a lovely diving save.

Heynckes took off Ribery, Kroos and Mandzukic for Robben, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Mario Gomez as Bayern defended a second half-onslaught from the home side. Robben added a second goal two minutes in to added time with a crashing volley from a Mueller cross.

Not only does this victory see Bayern go 18 points clear overnight, they are yet to be beaten in their last 18 matches. Neuer has managed 15 clean sheets in this competition, and has now gone well over 400 minutes, in total, without being scored against.

While it wasn't always pretty, Bayern did a nice job retaining composure even though a final touch seemed to be somewhat lacking over 90 minutes. And though I wouldn't have been surprised with a draw here, it's lovely to take another win in to Tuesday's match at the Emirates against Arsenal.

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