Bayern Munich got the defence of their Bundesliga crown underway last night as they faced off against the 2008-09 champions Wolfsburg, under their new coach, the former England manager Steve McClaren. However, he didn’t get off to the start that he would have liked to as his side found themselves a goal down after just eight minutes.
The home-side were completely dominant in the opening seven minutes of the game keeping Wolfsburg at bay in their own half of the field. It was some lovely build-up play from Munich that gave us the first goal of the game and indeed the season. Toni Kroos controlled the ball nicely just outside the Wolfsburg box before flicking the ball over the defender – debutant Simon Kjaer – with the World Cup’s top-scorer Thomas Muller getting in behind him before latching onto the ball and smashing into the back of the net. No more than the current holders deserved.
Louis van Gaal’s side kept up their dominance and looked to add a second as soon as possible, with Muller going close again in the 25th minute only to side foot over Frank Ribery’s cross before Wolfsburg went close through Ziani whose free-kick was saved by Butt. Shock of the season (not) came in the 32nd minute of the game as Mark van Bommel became the recipient of the first yellow card of the Bundesliga season – the Dutchman may have lived the charmed life during the World Cup, but was booked after receiving three warnings from the referee.
Just before the break, the Bavarians went close once again, this time Ribery was at the fore again down the left side, the Frenchman slotted it inside to Contento who made the inside run before forcing a save out of Benaglio. Wolfsburg ended the half looking a little out of sorts with Dzeko’s reservations about McClaren’s system of playing him as the lone striker at the fore. Luckily, McClaren decided to change things at the break bringing on Misimovic for Pekarik and it certainly paid dividends as Wolfsburg looked a lot more refreshed and ready for the second-half.
It was a much brighter start from the away side as Dzeko went close twice immediately after the restart. The first, he managed to run rings around van Buyten, after getting around him he shot just wide, while the second, Butt had to come off his line to push the ball wide. Wolfsburg knew they were only seconds away from an equaliser, and it was only a matter of time before it came. Substitute Mismovic with the original chance only to have it saved by Butt’s leg before going out for a corner. It was the resulting corner was floated it by Misimovic that led to the goal – Edin Dzeko rising high above all the Bayern Munich defenders before powerfully heading the ball into the net. Wolfsburg were level and deservedly so.
A much more direct start to the second period put Bayern on the back-foot from the off, but the game got a little bit scrappy from the hour mark onwards. Both coaches began to shuffle their deck of cards with Bayern making a double substitution taking Kroos and Klose off and replacing them with Pranjic and Gomes. Wolfsburg used up their final two substitutions with Grafite and Dejagah coming on for Mandzukic and Ziani.
The game looked set to end all square that was until Bastian Schweinsteiger (above) popped up in the 90th minute to secure all three points for the Bavarians with Wolfsburg conceding a goal at the worst possible time. A Ribery cross from the left, found Schweinsteiger at the back post who just had to stick out his leg to score the all important winner. The German international seems to have a penchant for scoring against Wolfsburg have scored five goals in their last few meets, he was also inch perfect all night long with 95 of his 98 passes being successful.
All in all, a fascinating encounter to get the Bundesliga season underway. Bayern were dominant in the first, Wolfsburg in most of the second, but it was the home side that ultimately did the damage right at the death. McClaren will be disappointed for his side to concede when they did, but they certainly looked lively in patches of the game and can count themselves very unlucky.