This weekend saw several firsts. Most notably, Hamburg picked up their very first win of the season, arguably the most important result of the match day and a huge result going forward for a club deeply entrenched in transition and still on the lookout for a new manager. Köln meanwhile beat Hoffenheim for the first time in their Bundesliga history and seem back on track after their slow start. Dortmund and Bremen also got back to winning ways with two late goals while Schalke and Bayern each had convincing wins. Augsburg remains the only side without a win while last year’s relegation contenders Gladbach are riding high in 3rd place with the league’s 2nd best defense.
Let’s take a look at some of the weekend’s top performers:
Alexander Stephan – Nürnberg were not at their best against Gladbach and faced a proverbial avalanche of attacks. As good as their defense has been this season not even they could stop the likes of Reus and Arango and it was up to Stephan to spoil Gladbach’s day. At the end a penalty gave Gladbach the win but other than the spotkick Stephan was equal to everything Gladbach threw at him, one of the better goalkeeping performances of the season so far.
Jeffrey Bruma – The importance of Hamburg’s win cannot be understated, a possible turning point after a nightmare start to the season. That win could not have been possible without the former Chelsea player whose important equalizer brought Hamburg back into the game. Bruma completed 86% of his passes and won 81% of his tackles, always being in the right space to check Harnik and Cacau, showing why Hamburg put their faith in the 19 year old.
Marcel Schäfer – It was not a pretty win for Wolfsburg as they barely squeezed past Kaiserslautern. The left back was the only player on the pitch to distinguish himself in a rather scrappy game. Schäfer set up Wolfsburg’s winner but was also ever-present in defense and attack, always asking for the ball and never backing down from a challenge. More importantly, Schäfer ensured that Wolfsburg did not get complacent after their center back Kyrgiakos was sent off early in the game.
Holger Badstuber – After last year’s disappointing performances the young center back had a lot to live up to and so far this season he has not disappointed. A crucial part of Bayern’s spotless defense so far, Badstuber put in another excellent shift against Leverkusen. He won 71% of his tackles and completed an impressive 96% of his passes. He was also a big reason for Augusto and Kiessling’s frustrating performances, always in the right place at the right time and doing well in his build up game.
Marco Reus – Reus has been in absolute top form this season and continued to impress against Nürnberg. The versatile attacker won his team’s decisive penalty and was a threat throughout the match. Never tiring and always bold, Reus has become a nightmare for opposing defenders. Over the last year and a half Reus has become one of the most complete players in the league. Finally, the true test of a great player is how he affects those around him and in Reus’s case, it is axiomatic that he improves every single player on his team.
Franck Ribery – The frenchman’s inclusion is becoming quotidian at this rate as he continues his outstanding form. It took Ribery only 5 minutes against Leverkusen to prove his quality as he burst past Da Costa to set up Müller’s goal. He spent the rest of the match terrorizing Leverkusen’s backline, taking on players, presenting his teammates with options and defending when he needed to. Ribery has not looked as lively in a Bayern kit since first arriving in Munich and at this rate who can doubt him as an early Player of the Year contender.
Gökhan Töre – The 19-year old attacking midfielder was one Chelsea youth player Hamburg were not able to secure on a permanent basis and that is because the London club still rates him very highly. Töre showed off those talents against Stuttgart in their important win and was always in the center of the action. His dynamism, stamina and technique shone through as he gave Stuttgart’s defense headaches all afternoon.
Mato Jajalo – Last week his central midfield partner Sasha Riether was the brighter of the two but this week it was the Croatian’s turn to shine. Jajalo scored his third goal of the season against Hoffenheim and was equally effective defensively as he was going forward. He won 15 tackles and completed almost 90% of his passes. When Novakovic was taken off Jajalo was also asked to play a more advanced position, showing his versatility as a player and the faith Solbakken has in him. Köln have not lost a single match yet when Jajalo has scored.
Claudio Pizarro – Like a fine wine, Pizarro’s class just becomes more evident with age. The striker’s importance to his club has been outlined numerous times and his two goals against Hertha Berlin further reinforced that fact. Although controversial, his 93rd minute winner embodies his never-say-die attitude and opportunism in front of goal. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Pizarro is Bremen’s life blood, involved in their last 6 goals, scoring 4 himself.
Lukas Podolski – For the second week running, Podolski has impressed and looks to be rounding into form along with his club. Setting up Köln’s first and finishing the second himself, Podolski was the most dangerous player on the pitch. The free role Solbakken has given him has benefitted his game tremendously and Podolski is reaping the benefits, playing with a stride and confidence not seen from him at the club level in a long time.
Jefferson Farfan – The Peruvian winger gives Schalke a certain edge they just lack without him. Boasting some of the fastest feet in the league and a continuous alacrity to take on players, Farfan is one of the most dangerous players in the league and showed that excessively against Freiburg. The winger scored the all important equalizer after Schalke went a goal down and then had a hand, or foot rather, in all three goals that followed.
Heinz Müller, Philipp Lahm, Emanuel Pogatetz, Daniel van Buyten, Filip Daems, Kevin McKenna, Mats Hummels, Lam Zhi Gin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Raffael, Ivan Perisic, Raul, Thomas Müller
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