[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter a prolonged mid-season break the Bundesliga returned in style last night with the division’s top two sides meeting at the Volkswagen Arena.
Champions, league leaders and perennial favourites Bayern Munich were expected to have arguably their most difficult game of the season but with the talent at their disposal, few expected them to lose the clash.
However, Pep Guardiola’s star-studded side came up against a gifted Wolfsburg outfit that have improved dramatically this season under Dieter Hecking and who were motivated by the untimely death of team-mate Junior Malanda.
A 4-1 scoreline in favour of the hosts has taken the footballing world by surprise, bringing Bayern back down to earth and inflicting the champions with their first domestic defeat of the campaign.
Dutch striker Bas Dost gave the home side a 2-0 lead at the interval, with the former Heerenveen forward’s second a well-placed volley from the edge of the area.
With the Bavarians expected to come out of the blocks and punish their opponents for failure to stick to the script, Kevin De Bruyne took hold and netted the side’s third eight minutes into the second half.
Although Juan Bernat did pull one back for the visitors, the Belgian attacking midfielder was on hand to dispense the nail on the coffin and add Wolfsburg’s fourth.
Even before this result, there is no doubting that Wolfsburg have been the biggest threat to Bayern’s Bundesliga dominance in 2014-15.
Hecking possesses real quality throughout his side, with international stars brought to the club by significant investment.
From expansive Swiss left-back Ricardo Rodríguez to central midfield generals Max Arnold, Joshua Guilavogui and Luiz Gustavo to the incredibly consistent Ivan Perišić, Wolfsburg are a real force to be reckoned with.
De Bruyne however has made all the difference since being brought to the club from Chelsea and has been one of the Bundesliga’s shining lights this term.
A league-high eleven assists at the halfway stage is mightily impressive, while his strikes last night take him to five goals for the campaign.
The former Genk man has been playing like he has a point to prove, having not been deemed good enough to be part of José Mourinho’s plans at Stamford Bridge.
Despite his status as an international player and an impressive 2012-13 season on loan at Werder Bremen, the competition for places in West London meant he only started two Premier League games in his time at Chelsea before being sold.
With the Blues splashing the cash on Juan Cuadrado this January, many of the Stamford Bridge faithful will be watching on as De Bruyne takes the Bundesliga by storm and think that the 24-year-old should have been given a chance at the club.
Chelsea’s embarrassment of riches has been a real boost for Wolfsburg, as André Schürrle is following in De Bruyne’s footsteps.
The former Bayer Leverkusen attacker is set to pen a deal with the Volkswagen Arena outfit today, making Wolfsburg’s attack even more formidable.
Despite Bayern’s first defeat, the Allianz Arena outfit still have an eight-point lead over their conquerors; as such anything other than Die Roten retaining their title this term would represent a massive shock.
Guardiola’s men will need to dust themselves off though, and quickly, as Schalke are next up for Bayern on Tuesday night.
Despite the fact that Roberto Di Matteo’s men possess an impressive side and are fighting for Champions League qualification themselves, Bayern will go into the game looking to further improve a record of eight wins in the last nine match-ups between the teams.
Wolfsburg’s emergence as an entertaining and exciting side has been excellent for German football this term and their win over Bayern can only be a good thing in a one-sided Bundesliga title race.
That said, Hecking’s men will probably have to make do with second place, even with the excellent signing of Schürrle, as it will take a blip of mammoth proportions for Bayern not to win the title in 2014-15.
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