The German Bundesliga is back in full swing following the summer break where football fans filled their time by following Germany in Euro 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. As has become the norm over the last decade, the pre-season predictions focussed on Bayern Munich. Pundits asked not if they would defend their crown but, instead, how many points would FCB win the league by.
The top tier of professional football in Germany has become something of a one-horse race in recent seasons with the Bavarians waltzing to league title after league title. Their long list of achievements shows they have won 31 Bundesliga titles and each of the last nine. They are now favourites at Betus to make it 10 in a row.
They won the trophy by 13 points from runners up RB Leipzig last term despite taking their foot off the gas in the closing stages with the title wrapped up with time to spare. The early exchanges of the 2021/22 season suggest the defending champions could be pushed hard, made to work all the way and that challenge comes from an unlikely source.
Wolfsburg speed into pole position
Vfl Wolfsburg performed better than expected last season when grabbing a fourth-place finish, securing their place in this season's Champions League. The club from Lower Saxony set out a season goal of building on that effort and they are on track to achieve that. After four matches played we find The Wolves sitting in pole position in the Bundesliga. They are top of the tree and, better still, they have a 100% record.
A check on Wolfsburg's stats shows they have played four, won four, bagging a dozen points. The pacesetters have scored six goals and conceded only one. Their tally puts them at least two points clear of the chasing pack with Bayern Munich on 10, Borussia Dortmund and Mainz managing nine. Now they have hit the front and caught many of their rivals off-guard the pressure is on to maintain it.
A good start to the season is one thing but keeping it up is quite another. Consistency and the ability to win ugly is often the difference between the champions and the contenders. A closer look at Wolfsburg's record shows they are top of the league on merit and appear to have the character to lay down a serious challenge.
With former Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Milan, PSV and Netherlands midfielder Mark van Bommel in charge the club are in great hands. Mark is a man that knows what it takes to win on the field of play and he already has an 83% win rate in his current position. Under his guidance. Wolfsburg has the best defence in the league, conceding three fewer goals than Bayern Munich. They haven't had as much success in attack, scoring six goals which is fewer than Stuttgart who can be found down in 10th place in the league.
Wolves hungry for success
Wolfsburg showed fans they are hungry for success and exploded out of the traps. They edged out Bochum 1-0 at the Volkswagen Arena on the opening day of the campaign, grabbing the points thanks to a goal scored by Weghorst. They followed that hard-fought win with a 2-1 away to Hertha Berlin and rounded off the month with another 1-0 at home, this time beating off RB Leipzig in what was a huge upset. Roussillon got the winner that day.
The good times carried over to September, and the wins kept coming. Bochum and his boys beat Greuther Furth 2-0 on the road, with Nmecha breaking the deadlock on 10 minutes before Weghorst wrapped up the points in injury time.
That success isn't restricted to domestic competition, and Wolfsburg put in an impressive display in France on Champions League duty. They failed to get the win they were after but did hold on for a 0-0, taking a point from Group G rivals Lille. That effort was made to look even more impressive because Brooks was sent off for a second bookable offence with 30 minutes of the match still remaining.
This team is playing effective football under Bochum, and fans won't be worrying about the lack of goals while the points continue to flood in. Followers of German football will be intrigued to see if Wolfsburg can keep it up.