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Bayern leave Wolfsburg begging for mercy and re-emphasise gap at top | Bundesliga

This ought to have been the perfect fixture to take us into the Winterpause. A soupçon of a doable combat for the title, a sign that Bayern Munich would have work to do within the second half of the season, a way of leaving the general public begging for extra within the final match of the calendar yr – alongside the road of custom like final yr’s late, late Robert Lewandowski aim digging out a win at Bayer Leverkusen, or the 2 targets within the final 4 minutes that have been wanted to place away Wolfsburg, Friday evening’s guests, two years in the past on this identical fixture seeing us into Christmas 2019.

By the top of the match, nevertheless, all Die Wölfe have been begging for was mercy. There was by no means any cliffhanger potential right here and should you have been trying for statistical hope, you have been doing so within the unsuitable place. By no means earlier than has a workforce with 43 factors or extra at Christmas did not go on and win the Bundesliga, and that’s the place Bayern are.

There have been 4 and it might have been so many extra for Bayern, who have been saved at arm’s size for a lot of the primary half by the ultra-defensive guests (however nonetheless led by an early, predatory Thomas Müller strike) however pressed with higher vigour within the second half, and Wolfsburg have been powerless to withstand. Bayern have been “extremely sharp” in these second 45 minutes, as their coach Julian Nagelsmann instructed DAZN, whereas understandably classifying his first half-season in cost as “a whole lot of enjoyable.”

Different data have been shattered alongside the best way. Their 56 targets for the primary half of the season is a never-before-reached excessive watermark, and they’re nicely on tempo to beat Bayern’s Bundesliga better of 101 from 1971-72. Lewandowski, naturally, was additionally accountable for one thing new. He has now surpassed two seemingly impregnable Gerd Müller data this yr, a late aim right here taking him previous Der Bomber’s file for a calendar yr (42 trumping 41), having overwhelmed his single season file in spring. The guests, given their notably harrowing history against Lewandowski on this fixture, should have felt they bought off calmly in conceding only one to him, a satisfying left-foot volley with the sport lengthy since determined.

Neither this stream of statistical superlatives, nor the sense of the inevitable, ought to diminish Bayern’s achievements. They’re taking part in magnificent soccer underneath Nagelsmann and whereas the Hansi Flick period was filled with performances to get the heart beat racing, a creative pinnacle to match with the Guardiola years, the brand new man is aiming to maneuver away from such a haphazard, visceral, turbo-Keegan kind of template. Nagelsmann praised his facet for their “excellent management” of the sport. “I desire good management to 10 probabilities and 10 counter-chances,” he burdened.

The final week, which regarded difficult on paper, has solely strengthened Bayern’s hand. Placing away a cussed Mainz final weekend was one factor. Confronted with a jaunt to Stuttgart and this reception of Wolfsburg with out their first-choice midfield axis of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, Bayern have flown. 9 targets scored, none conceded and the title nearly signed and sealed, even earlier than a spluttering Borussia Dortmund fell 3-2 at Hertha on Saturday evening. These wanted have stepped in with authority. Marc Roca, who had reduce the determine of an outcast, is now in kind and in all probability taking part in himself out of a possible transfer, mortgage or in any other case. “Trying at the final six months, I’m glad that we had such a giant squad,” stated Nagelsmann. “We wanted each participant.”

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Bundesliga outcomes

Present

Bayern Munich 4-0 Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin 3-2 Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig 0-2 Arminia Bielefeld, Hoffenheim 1-1 Mönchengladbach, Greuther Furth 0-0 Augsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 Mainz, Bochum 0-1 Union Berlin, Cologne 1-0 Stuttgart, Freiburg 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen.

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The unlikely central midfield of Roca and Jamal Musiala have been glorious, although it does really feel as if all the things goes their method. Musiala was set to be substituted within the closing minutes, however Benjamin Pavard’s unscheduled dash from the pitch modified that. “Benji got here out and stated in French that he needed to go to the toilet,” recounted Nagelsmann. “Then he determined to play for one other 15 seconds, performed three or 4 extra passes and when the ball was on the opposite facet, disappeared into the tunnel.” So exited a grinning Pavard, with Musiala staying on and shortly afterwards, he laid on Lewandowski’s aim. With the combo of swagger and serendipity, the 5-0 reverse at Borussia Mönchengladbach within the DfB Pokal in late October is a outcome that’s extra incongruous and inexplicable as time goes by.

For Wolfsburg, anticipated to be a part of the chasing pack, this was a seventh straight loss. Sporting director Marcel Schäfer was trying on the brilliant facet – as a result of what else are you able to do after a sport like this, and an opponent like this, particularly while you’ve already fired one coach this season? – as he regarded again on the rubble of latest weeks. “As a result of Champions League elimination, we will put in a whole lot of work on the [training] pitch,” he argued, “and this can give Florian the prospect to work on the understanding between [the players].”

Thomas Müller celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Wolfsburg.
Thomas Müller celebrates after scoring the opening aim towards Wolfsburg. {Photograph}: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Photographs

Wolfsburg have been criticised for a scarcity of ambition in some quarters however Florian Kohfeldt, their supervisor, was constrained by a scarcity of personnel – notably within the broad areas, the place the banned Jérôme Roussillon or the injured trio of Paulo Otávio, Admir Mehmedi and Maximilian Philipp might have given the facet some power out broad, notably on the counter. Additional ahead, he was missing Lukas Nmecha, one of many shiny spots of the season thus far. For Kohfeldt and firm, it might nicely worsen earlier than it will get higher.

That might be the case for the remainder of the Bundesliga too. Nagelsmann’s Bayern are, it appears, simply warming up.

Speaking factors

The potential competitors did themselves no favours this weekend, with Dortmund inexplicably letting a half-time lead in Berlin disintegrate (“we gave the sport away,” bemoaned stand-in goalkeeper Marwin Hitz) with Hertha scoring 3 times in 18 second-half minutes, together with two belting finishes by Marco Richter for the hosts. Earlier on Saturday Leipzig suffered their first loss underneath Domenico Tedesco, 2-0 at residence to lowly Arminia Bielefeld. “I couldn’t have imagined us scoring if we’d have performed for one other hour,” admitted the coach. Leverkusen are nonetheless six factors adrift of second-placed BVB after happening to a late Kevin Schade aim in Freiburg.

Christian Streich’s facet, as a substitute, end the Hinrunde in third place and with the joint-best defensive file within the Bundesliga.

Max Kruse completed off a very good week, getting married on Wednesday – having proposed stay on TV from the Olympics again in July – and placing a spectacular winner at Bochum on Saturday, making Union solely the second workforce to win a Bundesliga sport there this season. The one fly within the ointment was VfL followers throwing beer cups at Union gamers. Kruse stated he had “seldom seen such delinquent followers” although clarified afterward Instagram that “80% of Bochum followers are good”.

The Anthony Modeste present rolls on into Christmas. He missed a couple of probabilities he would usually gobble up for Köln towards Stuttgart, however then scored a formidable header, his eighth of 11 Bundesliga targets thus far, within the 89th minute to snare one other three factors in what has been a extremely passable first half of the season. The emotion at full time was clear, with a tearful Modeste embraced by teammates and his coach Steffen Baumgart.

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