European Match of the Weekend: Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich


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Bayern Munich stand on the verge of a stunning achievement this weekend as they prepare to take on Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.

Victory for Pep Guardiola's side would be the club's 16th in a row - and that would set a new record of consecutive wins in the German top flight.

As you might expect, Bayern already have the old record: they set it back in 2005, when they won 15 matches split across the summer break.

They equalled that record last time out with their 5-1 win over Schalke, so have already surpassed their own record in a sense by virtue of having won 15 matches on the trot in a single season - a feat considerably more demanding than splitting the record across the summer.

Given the form that Bayern are in, it seems almost inconceivable that they could lose on Saturday: no less an authority than Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke bemoaned the fact that Germany's other clubs are simply not challenging the European champions as they ought to be.

Watzke is right: the current dominance reflects rather shamefully on the other sides in the Bundesliga, with Bayern having scored 25 goals in their last six matches in domestic competitions and comfortably averaged more than three goals a game all season.

A quick glance at the league table suggests that their opponents this weekend have a chance of upsetting the applecart, however: Bayern are playing away at a Wolfsburg side who sit fifth in the table at the moment, and who have won four of their last five matches - scoring at least twice in all of those games.

The only problem is that the only one of those five games that Wolfsburg lost happened to be in their last outing, when they were demolished 6-2 by mid-table Hoffenheim after a shocking display.

Teams who have been stung can react in different ways, of course. Wolfsburg might emerge at the Volkswagen Arena in tentative, under-confident mood like a team who have had the rug pulled from beneath them; or they might be inspired by facing the best club side in the world - and desperate to prove that the Hoffenheim result was merely a blip.

If Wolfsburg striker Bas Dost's words are any guide, it sounds like it may be the latter: "For me, a home game against Bayern is the game of the year. We need to show just what we are capable of," he said.

"We are not just going into that game to sit back and watch how good the opponents are.

"Why must we lose against Bayern Munich? We are Wolfsburg, we are playing at home.

"Bayern are strong, but we have our own qualities too and we have proven that often enough."

Yet even a full-power Wolfsburg will not be capable of stopping Bayern establishing a new record win streak - despite the fact that Bayern's Thomas Mueller is out with a hamstring problem.

And by this time next week, the only question will be whether Bayern can go on to equal Inter Milan's record of 17 consecutive wins.

Inter's record came in the 2006-07 season, and remains the best-ever win streak in Europe's top four leagues. Barcelona in 2010-11 hold the Spanish record with 16 wins in a row, while Arsenal in 2002 hold the English top flight record of 14 - a mark which was set across two seasons.

That alone will bring its own pressure. And of course, Bayern will be playing just a few days after a tough Champions League match against Arsenal in mid-week.

And on top of that, their next opponents just happen to be third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, who were the last team to cancel out Bayern's firepower when they held them to a 1-1 draw on October 5th.

Making history, it seems, is always difficult - even for the most outstanding of teams.

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- Bayern are unbeaten in their last nine Bundesliga games against Wolfsburg (W8 D1) and have won the last five without conceding a single goal.

- FC Bayern’s last defeat against Wolfsburg was their 5-1 away loss on April 4th 2009 – VfL moved top of the table as a result and held on to first place until the end of the season.

- Wolfsburg conceded six goals in a Bundesliga game for the first time in eight years last weekend in their 6-2 defeat to Hoffenheim.

- Bayern extended their lead over second place to 20 points on the last matchday – the record champions’ chances of sealing the Bundesliga title in March are now in their own hands.

- Bayern recorded their 15th consecutive Bundesliga win last weekend against Schalke – no Bundesliga side has ever won 16 league games in a row.

- Bayern have scored at least once in each of their 38 competitive matches in 2013/14 (110 in total). They have only failed to score in one of their last 99 competitive games, in the 2-0 home loss to Arsenal in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on March 13th 2013.

- This is a meeting of the league’s two best tackling sides; the Wolves have won 53.3% of their challenges, Bayern 52.0%.

- Luiz Gustavo cannot play against his former club – the Brazilian picked up his fifth yellow card of the season last week and is suspended. Having already been sent off twice, the former Bayern midfielder has now been suspended three times this season (league-high).

- Bas Dost has started the last five competitive games, scoring four goals in the process – he has scored once on each of the last two matchdays (against Leverkusen and Hoffenheim).

- Arjen Robben was the match-winner against Schalke, scoring his fourth hat-trick in the Bundesliga. The Dutchman has scored five goals in seven top-flight matches against VfL, including a brace on his Bundesliga debut.



Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich - 14:30

Real Valladolid v Barcelona - 15:00

Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid - 19:00


Juventus v Fiorentina - 11:30

Real Madrid v Levante - 18:00

Napoli v Roma - 19:45

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