Bayern prevent a bad start with a late goal

The tension was palpable. Football Germany had all eyes on Wolfsburg when FC Bayern played there in the second Bundesliga round. The question was whether the record-winning champions from Munich would start the 2011-12 season with the worst record since 1999? But thanks to a goal scored by Luiz Gustavo in injury time FC Bayern won their away match at VfL Wolfsburg 1-0 (0-0). Their disappointing 1-0 opening defeat, when they suffered their first home loss for 16 years to former great competitor Borussia Moenchengladbach, had been recouped. And at the same time they celebrated a successful rehearsal for the Champions League qualifier against FC Zurich on Wednesday (August 17). The following week, on August 23 (Tuesday), the second leg against the Swiss will decide whether the Bavarians will make the group stage of the European top league as the third German club, along with champions Dortmund and runners-up Leverkusen. If they are the losers after the two play-off matches, they will have to play in the Europa League.

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Relieved Bavarians after the 1-0 win at Wolfsburg. Ivica Olic, Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery and Jerome Boateng (front from left), in the back Manuel Neuer and Holger Badstuber. (Photo: Getty Images)


“The win was very important for us”, said match winner Luiz Gustavo. “We played against a very strong team. Wolfsburg are difficult to play as proven by their 3-1 win in Cologne last week. It was a very good performance from both sides concerning running. We played very patiently and calmly”, coach Jupp Heynckes commented. The relief directly after the final whistle was obvious. The Brazilian scorer was buried by his team-mates during the celebrations. Manager Christian Nerlinger also joyously sprinted onto the pitch. “I had already accepted the draw. The joy was greater afterwards”, Nerlinger said. But he also admitted: “It was not a brilliant performance”.

The Bavarians had last started a season with just one point in 1999-2000, but then went on to win the championship title. Since champions Dortmund had been showered with praise after their 3-1 against Hamburger SV the previous week, the BVB lost 1-0 at TSG Hoffenheim 1899 in the second round. Bayern and Dortmund are now tied by points after two rounds, a fact for a certain satisfaction in Munich.

Lahm rejected “Bayern Luck”

“I can confirm that the 1-0 in injury time was lucky. After the opening defeat to Moenchengladbach it was terribly important to get points”, Heynckes admitted. During the week he had at times just four field players in training. All others were with their various national teams. Eight players from FC Bayern had been called up for the German national team. Seven were in national coach Joachim Loew’s starting line-up during the 3-2 win over Brazil in Stuttgart on Wednesday (August 10). There had never been so many Munich players in the selection of the German Football Association, DFB. Their victory over the record-winning World Cup champions also boosted their self-confidence.

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Thomas Mueller (centre) battling for the ball with Wolfsburg’s Marcel Schaefer (right) and Hasan Salihamidzic (left). (Photo: Getty Images)


The Bavarians were lucky because the refereeing team around Knut Kircher controversially disallowed a good goal by Patrick Helmes in the 39th minute, alleging off-side. The referee later admitted his mistake. “We watched the pictures on TV. It was not off-side”, Kircher said. Wolfsburg leading 1-0 would have been valid, but didn’t appear on the official match paper. “The Bayern Luck – it was back again” wrote the sports news agency, Sport-Informations-Dienst (sid).

“It doesn’t matter to us whether it was the Bayern Luck or the constant attacks. Only the three points are important”, stated captain Philipp Lahm. But most observers considered the overall Munich performance disappointing. The tactics of the hot championship favourites, assessed by 17 of the 18 Bundesliga coaches to win the title, was static and sluggish.

Comeback of Olic, debut for Usami

Injured Arjen Robben was missed badly. Franck Ribéry was back in the starting line-up after his injury, but rarely shone. German internationals such as Thomas Mueller and Toni Kroos appeared tired. Newcomer Manuel Neuer between the goalposts remained blameless at Wolfsburg after his major mistake against Gladbach that led to the 1-0 defeat.

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Nineteen-year-old Japanese Takashi Usami (right) made his debut for FC Bayern in the Bundesliga. (To the right South Korean Ja-Cheol of VfL Wolfsburg). (Photo: Getty Images)


Ivica Olic made his comeback. The Croat was sent on in the 86th minute for the first time in a competitive match nine months after his knee surgery. He laid on the FCB winning goal with a pass to Ribéry, which the Frenchman forwarded to Luiz Gustavo. Takashi Usami made his Bundesliga debut. The 19-year-old replaced Mueller in the 69th minute. He is the first Japanese to play in the Bayern shirt.