Wolfsburg beware. Smarting from a recent winless sequence that has the rest of the Bundesliga’s best brimming with title ambitions, champions Bayern Munich are hoping to mark a territorial return with a feast at the Wolves’ den this weekend.
Without a goal in five games for club and country, one of Bayern’s pack leaders, Robert Lewandowski, will be salivating at the prospect of roaring back to form against opponents he has tormented in recent times.
Poland’s predatorial captain boasts 16 goals in 15 Bundesliga games against Wolfsburg and once famously put a formidable five past the Lower-Saxony side in just nine second-half minutes back in 2015. Should the 30-year-old bare his teeth at the Volkswagen Arena on Saturday, Bayern’s four-match winless run in all competitions could conceivably conclude.
In fact, despite his ‘dry spell’ in front of the target of late, Lewy has still managed eight goals and an assist in just ten games across all competitions in Bayern colours this term. That he has been involved in a seismic 22 goals in 22 games against Saturday’s opponents [16 goals and six assists] will leave the Wolves wary of falling into the striker’s trap once again on Matchday 8.
Although unwilling to play easy prey in front of their passionate supporters come Saturday, Bruno Labbadia’s charges must reverse the heavy hand of history if they are to prevent the record champions reigniting their season with a win. Wolfsburg, like Bayern, are also enduring their own negative run, three draws and two losses somewhat scuppering a solid start that brought back-to-back triumphs and fresh optimism at the opening of this campaign.
Saturday’s hosts also go into this one knowing their hungry hunters hold the higher ground, the Bavarians winning 12 of the last 14 Bundesliga games between the sides with the Wolves victorious just once in this fixture in the previous 18 meetings.
Not only did Wolfsburg’s first-ever Bundesliga defeat come against Bayern (in 1997), they have also suffered their most top-flight reverses (32), conceded the most goals (100) and endured their heaviest Bundesliga defeat (6-0) against their pitiless opponents.
Yet as a haunting howl of revenge echoes around Wolfsburg’s den prior to this weekend’s combat, visiting coach Niko Kovac will be wise to the warning call of a wounded wolf. A dogged display at the Allianz Arena last term saw the 2009 Bundesliga winners leave with a 2-2 draw. That game was one of former Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti’s last in charge of the club.
It was also during the aforementioned successful title run in 2008/09 that Wolfsburg outfoxed the Bundesliga’s most successful side to the tune of 5-1, the only time in the last 16 years Bayern have conceded that many goals away from home. All four of the Wolves’ wins against the German giants, meanwhile, have come at the venue for Saturday’s contest.
Adding to the thrill of the hunt, the hosts would be happy to heap an unwanted first onto their lofty rivals, that of having failed to score a Bundesliga goal in three consecutive games. Bayern have previously failed to hit the target against Hertha Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Should the visitors draw one more blank on Saturday, it would set a new club record.
But nobody will have given such a statistic a single thought at Säbener Strasse in this week’s big-game build-up. Instead, the focus for Bayern will have been on moving out from the long grass of sixth position – their lowest standing since 2010/11 – to begin their Bundesliga attack. At this stage last season, the title-holders were five points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund yet would cruise to championship glory. Kovac’s current crop are just four off their Klassiker rivals despite their travails of late.