Refreshed Bayern ready for first test of the season
BERLIN: Champions Bayern Munich are braced for their first real test in the Bundesliga when they face last year's runners-up and German Cup holders VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday with coach Pep Guardiola's squad on five straight league wins.
The Bavarians will have striker Robert Lewandowski back fit while several key players were rested in their 3-0 comfortable victory at promoted Darmstadt 98 on Saturday as Guardiola rotated to keep his players fresh ahead of a busy period for them.
Thomas Mueller, Thiago, Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso were all left on the bench at the start of the Darmstadt game with Bayern in action twice in the league this week before hosting Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League next week.
"We are looking forward to the game against Wolfsburg, especially now that we are in a groove," said Bayern sports director Matthias Sammer, with his team having also won their Champions League opener at Olympiakos last week.
"Olympiakos was important, Darmstadt, a promoted team was also an important game. Now Tuesday's match is equally important and there's nothing new in that. It is because the players are playing a lot that we would have had trouble with having them fit so that is why it was important to rest them."
Coach Guardiola saw new signing Kingsley Coman score his first league goal in his first Bundesliga start for the champions, as did another newcomer, Arturo Vidal, while Sebastian Rode made the most of a rare start to set up one goal and score another as the rotation paid off.
"Now we have a home game and we want to win it and that's the message," Sammer said.
Bayern, trailing leaders Borussia Dortmund on goal difference, know any slip-up could be crucial with their Ruhr valley rivals also having won all five league matches so far.
Wolfsburg, currently in third place, four points behind the pair on 11, may have been weakened by the departure of playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and striker Ivan Perisic but they have beaten Bayern 4-1 last season as well as in this season's German Super Cup.
"The balance of power has shifted somewhat recently. Bayern know that if we catch a good day then we can get points there," Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking said.
"We have the feeling of not being without any chance and Bayern know they need to be at the top of their game against us."
Dortmund, who have won 11 straight matches in all competitions, travel on Wednesday to struggling Hoffenheim, who have yet to win a match this season.