Bayern begin title defence with victory over Wolfsburg

Munich - FC Bayern München were made to sweat for all three points in the Bundesliga season opener at home to VfL Wolfsburg, but ran out deserved 2-1 winners at the Allianz Arena.

Müller opens the scoring

Goals either side of half time from Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben set the hosts on the road to victory, before former Bayern striker Ivica Olic pulled one back halfway through the second period with a sensational long-distance strike.

Despite Javi Martinez’s injury disrupting Pep Guardiola’s plans to play a three-man backline, the Catalan coach set the hosts up in a 3-5-2 formation from the start, with captain Philipp Lahm on the right, Dante in the middle and Holger Badstuber on the left, the latter returning after an absence of 629 days through injury. Seventeen-year-old midfielder Gianluca Gaudino was a surprise Bundesliga debutant in midfield, partnering David Alaba in a central position.

Given such wholesale personnel and tactical changes, it was no surprise to see the defending Bundesliga champions struggle to find their rhythm early on against a powerful Wolfsburg team. Indeed, Bayern’s first chance of sorts did not arrive until the 12th minute, when Lahm’s ball over the top picked out Müller, but the 24-year-old was unable to properly connect with his shot and Max Grün saved easily.

Robben on target

Robben was the Bavarians’ main attacking outlet, with Robert Lewandowski’s threat expertly nullified by Naldo. Bayern gradually began to flex their muscles towards the end of the first period, with Grün making two outstanding saves within the space of a minute to deny Lewandowski from close range. The breakthrough finally came shortly before the break when Robben’s pace and trickery down the right allowed him to get to the by-line, and his cross was poked in by Müller at the near post.

The second half began at a frantic pace and Bayern wasted little time in doubling their advantage, with Robben jinking around in the box to finish off a breakneck counterattack. Far from retreating into their shell, however, Wolfsburg grew more adventurous and soon reduced the deficit through a superb curling effort from Ivica Olic from just outside the penalty area. The Wolves very nearly equalised moments later when a mix-up in the Bayern defence almost allowed De Bruyne a clear sight of goal, only for Juan Bernat to clear just in time.

Malanda inches away

With Bayern temporarily stunned, Wolfsburg began to attack with greater boldness than they had shown all match, but several promising moves were eventually snuffed out by the home rearguard. Junior Malanda spurned a gilt-edged chance to level the scores ten minutes before the end when he somehow managed to miss the target with an open goal at his mercy.

The hosts thought they had sealed the three points with five minutes left on the clock when substitute Sebastian Rode found the net from the edge of the box, but his effort was disallowed for offside. Xherdan Shaqiri also had a good opportunity to give Bayern some breathing space in a tense finale only to be denied by the outstanding Grün. In the end it mattered little though, as Bayern held on to start their title defence with a victory.

Line-ups and statistics

Jonathan Stockitt reporting from the Allianz Arena