Two weeks into the Bundesliga season, VfL Wolfsburg sits alone atop the table, as the only team in Germany’s top flight to win each of its first two matches of the season. The Wolves can assure themselves the top spot heading into the first international break of the season if they can beat RB Leipzig on Sunday. However, the Red Bulls are listed as road favorites with a moneyline of +111 while Wolfsburg’s moneyline is listed at +261. For a draw, the moneyline is +268.
Wolfsburg took a huge step in the right direction last season by finishing fourth in the Bundesliga and have kept it up this season with wins over Bochum and Hertha Berlin. However, they haven’t been overly impressive in either match, playing a man up for nearly the entire match with Bochum before needing to come behind to beat Hertha last week. However, the results have been there for Mark van Bommel’s team.
The Wolfsburg attack isn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard at the moment. They were up a man for more than 85 minutes against recently promoted Bochum and managed just one goal. Last week, the Wolves only had three shots on goal against Hertha Berlin, although they were able to make the most of them with two goals. Wout Weghorst, who led the team with 20 goals and eight assists last season, remains the focal point. There is also plenty of continuity with Bote Baku, Maximilian Philipp, and Renato Steffen back in the fold after each was a key contributor last season. But for whatever reason, the Wolfsburg attack hasn’t been clicking early in the season.
Defensively, the Wolves should be one of the strongest teams in Germany this season. They allowed the second-fewest goals in the Bundesliga last season, conceding just 37 in 38 matches. The center-back pairing of John Brooks and Maxence Lacroix remains intact while the Wolves have stability at goalie as well with Koen Casteels. The defense has looked solid through two games, conceding just one goal, so Wolfsburg figures to be a difficult team to break down.
The Red Bulls couldn’t have played two more different games to begin the season. Leipzig suffered a disappointing loss to Mainz to begin the season after finishing in second place last season. But American coach Jesse Marsh got his team to bounce back quickly with a dominant 4-0 victory over Stuttgart. Of course, if it weren’t for the team’s struggles in the season opener, nobody would have been surprised at the 4-0 scoreline last weekend. That means Wolfsburg should be a stern test for Marsh’s team this weekend.
While the Leipzig attack couldn’t figure things out against Mainz, the Red Bulls looked a lot more like themselves last week. Emil Forsberg was bright and creative, scoring a goal and helping to create a couple of others. Dominik Szoboszlai scored a pair while Andre Silva used a penalty to open his Leipzig account. Leipzig also has the likes of Marcel Sabitzer and Yussef Poulsen available, so Marsh has options off the bench and players he can rotate in the starting lineup.
On the defensive end, the jury is still out despite Leipzig allowing the fewest goals in Germany last season. Losing both Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano over the summer is a big deal and should make fans skeptical about Leipzig’s defensive prowess during the early part of the season. Mohamed Simakan has filled in nicely thus far alongside Willi Orban. It also helps to have players like Tyler Adams and Kevin Kampl holding down the midfield. But the Red Bulls can still expect to be challenged by Wolfsburg in this match.
While there are lingering concerns about both teams, if last week’s Leipzig performance was the Red Bulls we’ll see going forward, Wolfsburg will have a tough time this week. The Wolves might be stout defensively, but the Red Bulls have a lot of attacking options to throw at them whereas the Wolfsburg attack is yet to get going. That should be enough to shift this tight game in Leipzig’s favor.
Pick: RB Leipzig 2-1