Tactical Battles That Will Shape Wolfsburg's Clash with Bayern Munich

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2014

Hoffenheim's Ricardo Rodriguez, left, and Bas Dost celebrate their side's second goal during a German soccer cup quarterfinal match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and VFL Wolfsburg in Sinsheim, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/dpa,Uwe Anspach)
Uwe Anspach/Associated Press

This weekend will see the return to Bundesliga action for the horde of German football fans desperate for some palate-cleansing action following a desperate week for the national team. 

Schalke welcome Hoffenheim, Leverkusen travel to Hannover, while Dortmund meet Freiburg on Sunday. Yet it's table-topping Bayern Munich who kick things off for us tomorrow with their trip to Champions League-chasing Wolfsburg. 

However, despite an impressive run this season, the Wolves managed to completely capitulate against Hoffenheim last weekend, in a 6-2 route from Roberto Firmino and Co. 

Of course, Bayern expect something of a bounce back from Dieter Hecking's side, with the club's sporting director Matthias Sammer stating that “They’ll be determined to bounce back and react. We’ll need answers," in a chat with the club website this week. 


Luiz Gustavo vs. Toni Kroos

The most notable aspect of the rivalry between these two clubs on Saturday will of course be the form and talent of former midfield enforcer Luiz Gustavo and how he plans to falter any hope of Bayern dominating the ball in the middle of the pitch. 


His key priority throughout the match will be to keep Bayern's furthest forward midfielder—likely to be Toni Kroos but could also be Thiago Alcantara—close to him, whilst ensuring that the young German prodigy doesn't get enough time or space to dictate play. 

According to WhoScored, Kroos already has four assists in the Bundesliga this season, making him one of the club's most lethal playmakers. If Gustavo can keep him quiet throughout the duration of the game, then Wolfsburg may just have a chance of stealing something from the Bavarian giants. 


Arjen Robben vs. Ricardo Rodriguez

Although Bayern should have a clean bill of health ahead of this game, Pep Guardiola is likely to stick with his trusted Dutch winger in light of his run of excellent form. 


In his last seven games, the 30-year-old forward has scored five goals and created one assist, via Whoscored, and he has undoubtedly been one of Bayern's most effective players since the turn of the year. 

Yet in his way will be a player of equal form in Ricardo Rodriguez, who has quickly distinguished himself as one of the Bundesliga's top defenders in the relatively short amount of time he's been at Wolfsburg. The 21-year-old's progress has perfectly characterised his club's rise up the table this season and will undoubtedly be one of Hecking's key players this weekend. 


Kevin de Bruyne vs. Philipp Lahm

To turn for one moment from how Bayern could hurt Wolfsburg to how the Wolves could hurt the league leaders, we must of course consider the indisputable talent of Kevin de Bruyne and how Bayern would hope to close him down in tomorrow's game.


The Belgian international arrived at the Volkswagen Arena amidst a flurry of excitement and he hasn't disappointed with an impressive two assists in just six games for the club, per WhoScored

In fact, since arriving in Wolfsburg, the 22-year-old has taken to his new No. 10 role like a duck to water and already established himself as the side's key playmaker. 

Yet in his way will be the might of Philipp Lahm, Pep Guardiola's new and improved defensive midfielder, who will turn to the task of De Bruyne just as Gustavo will to Kroos. Two midfield enforcers who will have to nullify the other side's key playmaker if they want to have any hope of winning the game.