Bayern Munich suffered a shock 4-1 defeat against their nearest competitors in the Bundesliga – VfL Wolfsburg – upon their return to league action. The German league has been in hibernation over the last few weeks, but it announced its return in the most emphatic manner with this shock result. Bayern were in danger of running away with the league, but their lead has now been cut to eight points. Despite this huge setback, Bayern remain favourites – amongst Betfair in the 2015 Bundesliga odds – for the league title. Odds of 1/250 suggest that the club are almost certainties for the title.
This defeat provides scope for teams like Wolfsburg to have a glimmer of title success. No other team has been able to keep pace with Bayern this season. Both teams have European commitments starting from February, although Bayern are more than expected to be at the latter stages of the Champions League. Wolfsburg face Portuguese outfit Sporting Club in the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League. A big boost for the second placed team will be the signing of André Schürrle. The German international, who won the World Cup last summer, comes from Chelsea for a fee of around £22 million.
Schürrle is the second major signing for Wolfsburg from Chelsea after the German club had earlier bought Kevin De Bruyne for around a similar fee recently. The transfer of De Bruyne has worked very well for them and Dieter Hecking will be hoping for more of the same. Schürrle’s form has been inconsistent in the league this season, but he played a major role in Germany’s success in Brazil. The 24-year-old was largely utilised as an impact substitute by Joachim Löw. Schürrle may expect more first-team opportunities at Wolfsburg.
For Bayern, this was a humiliating defeat and one the few meaningful league matches that Guardiola has lost since his arrival almost 2 years ago. Hence, it is too early to come to a conclusion that the former Barcelona manager fast needs to find a Plan B. It is especially true when looking at the sizable advantage that the Bavarians have in the league table. Bayern coasted to the finish last season and it was seen as one of the reasons for the poor performance in the latter stages of the Champions League.
Counter-attacks were the story of the night after Wolfsburg adopted tactics similar to those used by Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League semi-final against Bayern. For most periods, Jérôme Boateng found himself as the last man in defence. It was due to the combination of Bayern playing an extremely high line and Wolfsburg immediately starting attacks once they won possession.
The next couple of weeks will be very crucial for the club. Schalke are the visitors to the Allianz Arena in the next league match. Under the guidance of Roberto Di Matteo, Schalke have emerged as one of the contenders for the final Champions League qualification spot. They are level on points with Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Augsburg, while Bayer 04 Leverkusen are not too far behind.
Bayern may have suffered their first league defeat of the season, but it has not altered the strength in the eyes of bookmakers. Betfair places Bayern Munich at 1/7 for a victory when they take on Schalke during weekend. Schalke’s last victory against Bayern away from home came in 2009.
After publicly courting Manchester United a few months back, doubts continue to persist about Guardiola’s future in Germany. The Spaniard is yet to sign a new contract and his existing deal runs out in the summer of 2016.