In the final round before the winter break, the top two played out an entertaining draw as Ingolstadt and Darmstadt finished 2-2. Karlsruhe took advantage of their rivals dropping points by emphatically beating FSV Frankfurt. Braunschweig, Kaiserslautern, and Fortuna Düsseldorf all picked up 1-0 victories to remain hot on the heels of the top three, but Red Bull Leipzig were held to a 1-1 draw at home to 1860 Munich.
Elsewhere, the Frankenderby saw Nurnberg and Furth play out a dour scoreless affair draw, and St Pauli moved off of the bottom of the league with 3-1 over their relegation rivals from Aalen.
Let’s take a look at the team of the week for match day 19.
Rafal Gikiewicz – The Polish keeper has been a success since joining Braunschweig in the summer and was in excellent form in keeeping a clean sheet against Heidenheim. Gikiewicz pulled off a number of vital saves, with his late save of a Timo Beerman attempt being the standout stop.
Benjamin Kessel – Kessel has been in excellent form over the past three games and is making a big impact at both ends of the pitch. Kessel defended well in his personal battle with Marc Schnatterer. The right back grabbed the assist for the only goal of the game, meaning that he has scored or assisted in each of his past three matches.
Benedikt Röcker – The giant defender was a rock at the heart of the defense as Fürth grabbed a draw at their local rivals, Nürnberg. Rocker gave an assured display as the Kleeblätter managed to keep a clean sheet, despite being down to ten men for the final 40 minutes. Röcker has established himself as a very important player for Fürth and has played a big role in his side conceding just one goal in their past five games.
Marcel Correia – The Portuguese centre back has established a fantastic partnership with Ken Reichel at the heart of the Braunschweig defence and was again in fine form in his side’s 1-0 win at Heidenheim. Correia did a great job in dealing with Heidenheim’s top goal scorer, Florian Niederlechner, as Braunschweig moved level with third-placed Darmstadt.
Marc Rzatkowski – In his first start since returning from injury, the diminutive midfielder inspired Pauli to a rare win over a struggling Aalen side. Rzatkowski was given a free role for this game, and he ran the show as the Aalen defense struggled to handle the player’s movement and excellent passing range. If he can remain fit, Rzatkowski could be the one to inspire Pauli to stave off relegation in the second half of the season.
Reinhold Yabo – Yabo continues to attract the attention of a number of Bundesliga sides and with performances like this one against FSV Frankfurt, it is no surprise. In addition to putting in a commanding performance, Yabo got himself on the score sheet to cap a memorable display. With the transfer window now open, Karsruhe will face a fight to hold onto their talented midfielder.
Hanno Behrens – Behrens grabbed his 2nd goal in as many games as he gave his side an early lead in their eventful draw with the league leaders, Ingolstadt. The central midfielder scored a real poacher’s effort after their opponents failed to clear a corner.
Pascal Groß – Yet another appearance in the team of the week for the superb Ingolstadt midfielder. The 23-year-old has probably been the player of the season and made another vital contribution as he scored an excellent free kick in Ingolstadt’s draw at Darmstadt.
Rouwen Hennings – The Karslruhe striker’s excellent form continued as he grabbed two goals and an assist in his side’s 4-1 win over FSV Frankfurt. Hennings gave his side the lead with a powerful strike from the edge of the box. He grabbed his second of the game after robbing Patric Klandt of the ball. Hennings’ final contribution of the game saw him win the penalty for the fourth goal.
Rubin Okotie – The 2. Bundesliga’s top goal scorer grabbed his 12th league goal of the season (15th between all competitions) as 1860 Munich moved out of the bottom three thanks to a valuable point at RB Leipzig. Okotie was at his clinical best as he latched onto Fesul Mulic’s pass before slotting the ball past Fabio Coltorti.
John Verhoek – ‘Big John’ grabbed his fourth goal of the season in Pauli’s vital victory over Aalen. The Dutch striker scored with a well-placed volley from the edge of the area to give his side the lead.
Honourable Mentions: Ramazan Ozcan (Ingolstadt), Manuel Riemann (Sandhausen), Rene Klingbeil (Aue), Manuel Torres (Karlsuher), Milan Ivana (Darmstadt), Tobias Weis (Bochum), Dorian Diring (Aue), Dennis Daube (Pauli), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig) and Seung-Woo Ryu (Braunschweig).
Player of the Week
Goal of the week
There were a number of contenders but Yussuf Poulsen’s fine strike against 1860 Munich simply takes the goal of the week award. The Danish forward gave his side the lead with an excellent curling effort.
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