No favours for old club Wolfsburg: Mandzukic
BERLIN (AFP) – Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic will be looking to show his old club VfL Wolfsburg what they are missing when they host the runaway Bundesliga leaders on Friday.
Mandzukic has been in great form since joining Bayern last July from Wolves and his five goals in the three league games so far in 2013 have helped the Bavarians open a 15-point lead at the top of the table.
By both finishing and creating chances – he has netted 14 goals in 18 matches – Mandzukic has restricted Germany striker Mario Gomez to only the occasional start for Bayern.
“I knew I had to believe in myself from the start,” said the 26-year-old Croatia star. “Now I expect to play in every game.”
Having left Wolfsburg after two years, 20 goals and 56 league matches, the former Dinamo Zagreb forward has been in outstanding form and there will be no place for sentiment with the league leaders hunting their 18th league win from 22 games
“We want to be the boss on the pitch again,” said Mandzukic, who still backs his old team to thrive with Wolves coach Dieter Hecking having picked up two wins in his four matches since taking charge in December.
“They have a good team and good individual players, but I think they need some time until everything works the way it should be.”
Bayern will not underestimate Wolfsburg, who earned a shock 3-2 win against defending champions Borussia Dortmund in December, especially with Brazil playmaker Diego bossing the midfield.
“They have plenty of what it takes to make life difficult for every opponent, but they’ve often lacked consistency,” said Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos of the 2009 German champions who are currently 12th in the league.
One factor in Wolfsburg’s favour is Bayern’s looming Champions League tie against Arsenal in London next Tuesday.
“We’ll start thinking about that as of Saturday. It still gives us enough time to prepare for Arsenal,” said Kroos.
Bayern have few injury problems for the trip to Wolfsburg with Javi Martinez struggling with a bruised toe while back-up striker Claudio Pizarro (flu) and Dante (stomach problems) should both be fit.
Wolves striker Patrick Helmes could make his first appearance of the season and is rated as “50-50” by Hecking after tearing knee ligaments last August.
Second-placed Borussia Dortmund have a tough match at home to fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday after Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 tie at Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk which ended 2-2.