On Bundesliga matchday 23, VfL Wolfsburg suffered a 1-2 (1-0) home defeat to FC Bayern Munich. On the day, VfL led for a long period, but were unable to completely withstand the attacking pressure exerted by the all-time record Bundesliga title holders. The hosts took an early lead through Daniel Didavi (8'), but Sandro Wagner (64') and a penalty converted late on by Robert Lewandowski (90') saw Bayern turn the tie in their favour. This coming Friday, February 23rd (kick-off 20:30 CET), the Wolves open matchday 24 with a away game against FSV Mainz 05.
Compared to the side beaten 1-3 by SV Werder Bremen last weekend, VfL coach Martin Schmidt made a total of five changes, with Paul Verhaegh, William, Josip Brekalo, Admir Mehmedi and Victor Osimhen making way for Sebastian Jung, Gian-Luca Itter, Daniel Didavi, Renato Steffen and Divock Origi. FCB coach Jupp Heynckes opted to make some eight changes from the side that beat Schalke 2-1: Only Sven Ulreich, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery maintained starting-eleven places.
Dream start for the Green-Whites
The Wolves began defensively, waiting for the opportunity to hit on the break – and the hosts made use of their first counter-attack in the game to take the lead: Maximilian Arnold played a short corner to Yunus Malli, whose cross to the back post was headed home by Didavi (8'). As the half progressed, the Wolves closed down the spaces well and shored up at the back, preventing the visitors from finding a route to goal. However, in the 16th minute, VfL keeper Koen Casteels was there when called upon to deny a point-blank header from Niklas Süle. As a result, the home side took their narrow advantage into the break.
Casteels saves from the spot
There was much of the same immediately after the re-start: The visitors had the ball, the Wolves defended stoutly. Three minutes into the half, Corentin Tolisso tried his luck with a curling shot from 20 meters out, but fired wide of the target (48'). Just minutes later, Casteels came to the VfL rescue once again: Following a foul in the box by Steffen on Tolisso, referee Stegemann immediately pointed to the spot, but the Belgian keeper done excellently to deny Robben.
As the visitors then increased the pressure, the Wolves could barely clear their lines and in the 64th minute, FCB finally made their breakthrough: From a Robben cross, Wagner was perfectly placed to power home his header. Substitute Thomas Müller (68', 73') and again Wagner (71') came close to putting Bayern in front, but left their chances untaken. In the 80th minute, Arnold saw yellow and will thus miss out this coming Friday. Shortly before full-time, there was then the shock for the Green-Whites. Itter felled Robben in the box and Robert Lewandowski converted the subsequent spot-kick, leaving VfL empty-handed at the end of a hard-fought battle.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Jung (78' William), Bruma, Knoche, Itter – Guilavogui, Arnold – Didavi, Malli (90'+4 Dimata), Steffen (83' Osimhen) – Origi
FC Bayern München: Ulreich – Rafinha, Martinez, Süle, Bernat – Rudy, Tolisso – Robben, Thiago (62' Müller), Ribery (66' Alaba) – Wagner (79' Lewandowski)
Goals: 1-0 Didavi (8'), 1-1 Wagner (64'), 1-2 Lewandowski (90' / pen.)
Yellow cards: Jung, Steffen, Arnold / Thiago, Ribery, Müller
Attendance: 30,000 on Saturday afternoon in the Volkswagen Arena
Referee: Sascha Stegemann (Niederkassel)