VfL Wolfsburg vs. Bayern Munich preview:
Kovac gets another shot at the record champions
By Jonathan Dicks @Jonathan_Dicks
Bayern are still in search of their first Bundesliga win of 2023 as they travel to face their former coach, Niko Kovac, who made some eye-opening comments about the club this week.
|Niko Kovac.||Photo: Sven Mandel / CC-BY-SA-4.0|
Having claimed at least a point in ten straight league games, Wolfsburg suffered two quick defeats in succession to Werder Bremen and Union Berlin this week. Still, the green company club impressively sit 7th in the table following a dreadful start to the campaign.
Just a few months ago, Niko Kovac was about a game away from getting sacked, but now he’s heralded for this surprising turnaround. Wolfsburg have found consistency in their back line and Kovac has an array of attacking options at his disposal up front.
Earlier this week before their match in the capital, Kovac said, "It's the most difficult opponent we could have drawn. I think it's easier to play in Munich than in Berlin at the moment."
In his friday press conference, he added, “We’re not fooled by those three draws. We know what we have to expect. Bayern are still favorites for the title."
Koen Casteels and Lukas Nmecha are both fit for Sunday’s primetime matchup. This means all Wolfsburg regulars are available.
The record champions drew their first three games of the new year, but let off some steam by slamming Mainz 4-0 in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday. With no cushion at the top of the table, teams have to feel this is the most gettable Bayern team in years.
But, in true Bayern fashion, they struck gold in yet another transfer window. Joao Cancelo joined on loan from Manchester City and he immediately made an impact midweek just days after his arrival.
Yann Sommer, another winter signing, has allowed just a goal in each of his three Bundesliga appearances thus far. But, the attention is currently on Manuel Neuer who shared his frustration surrounding goalkeeper coach Toni Tapalovic’s firing in an interview with The Athletic. It’s causing quite the stir in the Bayern camp and they may fine their injured captain for his comments.
In his press conference, Julian Nagelsmann shared, "(Wolfsburg) have good processes and a healthy aggressiveness. They scored five and six goals recently. They have quick players. We have to take this pace away from them and create a good dominance."
Neuer, Lucas Hernandez, Noussair Mazraoui, Josip Stanisic and Sadio Mane are out. Dayot Upemecano and Eric Choupo-Moting are expected to play, while Ryan Gravenberch is questionable.
Cancelo will likely find a place in the starting lineup once again.