Team of the Week – Match Day 4

 

Match Day 4’s results spurred several changes in the standings.  Bayern’s win over Kaiserslautern sent them to the top of the table for the first time since May 2010 while Mönchengladbach suffered their first loss of the season at Schalke.  Augsburg, Kaiserslautern and Hamburg remain without a win while Hannover surprisingly stay the only unbeaten side in the league.  Hertha Berlin, Freiburg and Köln all celebrated their first wins of the new campaign and finally, this weekend saw yet another goal fest in Hamburg as well as the first goalless result in 33 Bundesliga matches.

Here are some of the players that particularly stood out this Matchday:

Goalkeeper

Leno stood above all other goalkeepers on Match Day 4

Bernd Leno – Leno came in on loan from Stuttgart amidst Leverkusen’s goalkeeper crisis.  Three matches in, the 19 year old has kept three clean sheets and helped Leverkusen supporters forget all about Rene Adler’s injury.  Leno had to make just 4 saves against Dortmund and even though he was not troubled much in the first half 3 of his saves were world class and vital in earning Leverkusen the point when Dortmund’s rallied back in the second half.

 

Defenders

Ömer Toprak – Leverkusen’s new signing has made an impressive turnaround since his opening day own goal.  Toprak had an outstanding individual performance for the second week running and held his ground against Dortmund’s impressive attack.  Leverkusen had a leadership vaccum in defense after Sami Hyypia’s retirement and in the last couple of weeks Toprak has shown strong signs of growing into that role.  The center back won an impressive 12 tackles, 63 touches on the ball and 93% pass completion rate. (45 out of 49)

Freiburg defender Barth keeping Mandzukic in check.

Oliver Barth – The Freiburg captain was inspirational in his side’s 3-0 win over Wolfsburg, their first victory and clean sheet of the season incidentally.  The center back gave Freiburg the lead and was largely responsible for keeping Wolfsburg attack almost completely out of the game.  Helmes and Mandzukic were not given an inch by Barth, the Freiburg captain winning more tackles than any other player (15) and was the only player not to misplace a single pass during the game.

Philipp Lahm – Surrounded by a firestorm of criticism and media frenzy over his recently released autobiography, Lahm could have easily let the attention affect his performance.  Instead, the Bayern and German National Team captain had his best performance to date this season.  Against Kaiserslautern, Lahm was especially strong in attack, constantly storming down the left side (covering 10.46 km), linking up play well with Schweinsteiger and Ribery (92% passing accuracy) and even creating two goal scoring opportunities.

Midfielders

Patrick Ebert was a man on a mission against Stuttgart.

Thomas Müller – The great thing about Müller is his sheer unpredictability.  Equally as comfortable out wide as he is in the middle, Müller can be hard to handle for opposing defenders.  Kaiserslautern found that out first hand on Saturday, unable to cope with the lively Müller from start to finish.  The Bayern attacker won both penalties and set up the third goal in their 3-0 win, running his heart out in the process. (match high covered distance of 11.76 km and 16 sprints)  It is no coincidence that Gomez scores in bulks when he has Müller playing alongside him or that Heynckes considers this their best performance to date this season.

Patrick Ebert – Thanks to Ebert’s industrious performance and eventual assist at the end, Hertha Berlin were able to record their first win of the season.  Despite being outplayed in the first half, Berlin’s right winger never stopped running and fearlessly took on Stuttgart’s defenders.  Like the little engine that could, Ebert had more touches on the ball than any other Hertha player (63) and won more tackles than his partners in attack.  Always threatening, Ebert was involved in 9 of Hertha’s 16 goal scoring chances.

Heung-Min Son – His team may have lost in dramatic fashion but Son distinguished himself amidst one of the most chaotic matches of the season and was Hamburg’s most dangerous player.  After going down 2-1, Son led Hamburg’s come back, setting up the equalizer and scoring a great individual goal to give them the lead again.  His side gave up the lead in the end but Son’s exuberance and proactive play was infectious and arguably pushed his team beyond its limits.

Son lit up the pitch with his energetic performance.

William Kvist – Stuttgart may have lost but the Danish central midfielder was superb, particularly in the first half where opponents Hertha Berlin were thoroughly outplayed.  Since joining in the summer, Kvist’s influence in Stuttgart’s midfield has grown progressively and against Berlin he had arguably his best performance yet.  Whether it was winning the ball for his team (match high 14 tackles), distributing it with precision (94% passing accuracy) or getting forward and taking a shot at goal himself, Kvist was the bright spot for Labbadia’s side.

Konstantin Rausch – It seems like it was the weekend of the hard working players and few worked harder for their team than Hannover’s left winger.  Despite playing a draining match midweek in Spain against Sevilla, Rausch ran an incredible 11.02 km.  Running is not the only thing Rausch contributed though, he assisted Hannover’s only goal, had the most shots on goal and set up 9 other goal scoring chances. To denote his influence further, Rausch sent in more crosses than the entire Mainz team. (9)

Forwards

Raul once again endeared himself to the Schalke faithful with his match winner.

Raul – The Spaniard’s goal was the difference when Schalke met the league’s most in form team this weekend, pulling Schalke up to second spot in the standings.  Although scrappy, the goal epitomized Raul’s never say die attitude and winning mentality.  With 8 shots, Raul was the most dangerous player on the pitch as well as Schalke’s most productive passer. (36).  With Holtby and Draxler underperforming, Raul’s work off the ball was especially important and had to drop back several times to receive passes and create space for his teammates.  In other words, it was a typical performance from the veteran.

Mario Gomez – Last season the striker scored five hattricks in the league and was behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in total goals across all competitions in Europe.  Not really the flashiest player, Gomez does the simple things better than anyone.  His clinical finishing and clever positioning earned him another hattrick against Kaiserslautern. After a slow start to the new season, Gomez is slowly rounding into form and ready to be an important part again in Bayern’s quest to regain the title.

 Honorable Mentions

Andreas Beck, Kevin McKenna, Mats Hummels, Steve Cherundolo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marco Reus, Marcel Risse, Jefferson Farfan, Firmino, Adil Chihi, Cedric Makiadi, Elkin Soto, Andre Schürrle

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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari

6 Comments

  1. nice work cristian its really a tremendous choice, do you have any idea why jogi doesnt put beck and castro as an alternative right back i really dont get it why jogi push howedes or trasch in the right flank while he has any proper choice. I really agree that rausch need to acknowledged to what he achieved so far.

  2. You’re right Marcos, Farfan did do well (again). Think Rausch doesn’t get enough credit and wanted to highlight him.

  3. I’ve always liked Toprak, his accident a few years ago was such a shame, great to see him rebound and do well now. Like you said, always good to have a stream of defenders coming through, particularly those with good technique, was lacking in the past.

    I also like Rausch, while not the most skilled player, has fantastic workrate and attitude it seems. He plays LB for the U-21 but seems very comfortable on the wing as well. Don’t think he’ll get a shot just yet though. Löw can be a bit slow integrating players or giving them a chance.

  4. Hi Cristian, great writing! Cristian, I can’t help but noticing that this week team consists of several ex / current mannschaft junior players – Leno, Toprak, Rausch, Ebert.

    Speaking of which, do you know the latest news regarding Toprak? Did he already decide between Germany and Turkey? While we already abundant in CB talents like Hummels, Höwedes and Boateng, having one more talent won’t hurt especially since he was nurtured by Germany to begin with.

    And what do you think about Rausch? He could play as LB isn’t it? Good prospect as our future LB? I’m quite worried with our condition in full-back position, Löw never care to re-call Beck again, Schmelzer and Aogo looks a bit out of depth in highest level, Jansen is more a left midfielder, Castro never get a call up. Too bad we can’t clone Lahm…

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