Another turbulent weekend of Bundesliga action is behind us with a variety of talking points worth mentioning. Matchday 11 saw some of the most competitive games of the season as well as some pretty one sided affairs. Wolfsburg vs. Hertha Berlin offered arguably the exciting and open match of the season while Gladbach, Hannover, Dortmund and Stuttgart all faced off in hard fought and close encounters. Bayern München continued to steamroll over the opposition and Köln and Leverkusen both got back to winning ways in emphatic fashion.
Below are 11 players that especially stood out on this competitive matchday:
Sven Ulreich – Up against the second best attack in the league, Stuttgart’s keeper distinguished himself and won his side an important point. Ulreich came up big especially in the final phase of the match were Dortmund threw everything but the kitchen sink forward, forcing two impressive saves from the goalkeeper. Stuttgart can take comfort in the fact that they also have the talented young Bernd Leno out on loan but Ulreich’s performances in the meantime have done away with their recent goalkeeper concerns.
Ömer Toprak – On Friday Toprak came up against his former team and one of the league’s deadliest strikers. Toprak excelled and was the best player on the pitch. It has become rare for Leverkusen to keep a clean sheet nowadays and when they do it is down to either Toprak or Leno’s fantastic performances. Toprak was the immovable object against Freiburg and won nearly every duel against Cisse. His calmness and presence at the back is slowly becoming invaluable for Leverkusen.
Sebastian Prödl – The 24 year old Austrian center back took some time to settle in the Bundesliga after his move from Austria but has slowly improved over the years and may finally be ready to play a big role for Bremen. Strong in the air and on the ground and a perfect compliment to Naldo, Prödl stood firm against Mainz and kept Choupo-Moting in check. His goal also put the result beyond doubt. Schaaf may just contemplate a permanent pairing of Naldo and Prödl at the back from here on out.
Philipp Lahm – Bayern and Germany captain Lahm was back to his best against Nürnberg after a string of questionable errors in recent weeks. Lahm owned the left side and rendered Judt and Chandler all but irrelevant. At times Lahm looked as if he was playing as a left winger as he set up Ribery’s goal and constantly burst forward.
Roel Brouwers – The Dutch center back may have only played 45 minutes, replacing the injured Stranzl before half-time, but that 45 minutes was crucial to Gladbach’s big win against Hannover. Whether it was blocking shots, last ditch defending or keeping the likes of Abdellaoue and Schlaudraff in check, Brouwers put in a near flawless performance in his cameo.
Marco Reus – Like Ribery, Reus is a name that is going to be on the lips of many Bundesliga viewers this season thanks to their outstanding performances. Reus’s individual class was the difference in Gladbach’s hard fought win against Hannover. With both sides strong defensively only something special was going to break the deadlock and both Reus goals were special indeed. Questioned for the many squandered chances this season, Reus took his goals emphatically.
Raffael – When Raffael plays well, Hertha score and more often than not end up winning the match. The Brazilian playmaker is Berlin’s primary source of creativity and is behind nearly ever Hertha attack. Against Wolfsburg, Raffael was at the heart of his side’s roller-coaster performance and win, scoring the first and playing a hand in the other two. His speed, creativity and dribbling was too much to handle for the Wolfsburg defense as he tore through them like a tornado.
Julian Draxler – Just a couple of months ago Draxler could not feature in Schalke’s late night matches because he was still attending school. Still only 18 years old, Draxler’s footballing talent cannot be denied and he has established himself as a first team regular at Schalke. Against Hoffenheim those talents were evident for all to see as he got the best of Beck on several occasions and set up two of Schalke’s goals. More is sure to come from one of German football’s brightest young talents.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk – While Ribery and Schweinsteiger have collected most of the accolades this season, and rightfully so, the Ukranian veteran has quietly gone about his business and been one of the unsung heros of Bayern’s fantastic campaign. “Tymo”, as they call him, won a match high 15 tackles against Nürnberg and covered a team high 10.9 kilometers in distance. Used interchangeably with Luiz Gustavo this season, Tymo’s experience and composure as the midfield anchor has paved the way for Bayern’s dominance in midfield.
Claudio Pizarro – If there ever was a one-man team this season, that tag surely has to belong to Pizarro and Werder Bremen. Involved in 11 of their last 12 goals, the Peruvian veteran has been at the forefront of Bremen’s season. Whether it is scoring important goals or setting up others, Pizarro has become a Bremen icon and the go-to guy in a match. Against Mainz Pizarro did what he does best and collected his 150th Bundesliga goal in the process.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga – The 19 year old was involved in all three goals in Hertha’s win over Wolfsburg. Labeled more as a physically gifted player rather than possessing natural talent, Lassogga showed that he is more than a mountain of muscle. His assist to Raffael showed his passing range and his cool penalty showed the level of concentration of what is becoming Germany’s brightest striker prospect.
Coach of the Week
Thomas Schaaf – After a rather disappointing run of results, Bremen got back to winning ways against Mainz and a large part of that was down to Schaaf. Starting Prödl instead of Wolf paid dividends throughout the match as the defender handled Mainz’s attackers well and eventually got on the scoresheet. During the match, Schaaf was also able to calm the frantic tempo of the game down with the introduction of Bargfrede, which stabilized Bremen defensively and ensured they saw the game out safely.
Jaroslav Drobny, Serdar Tasci, Maza, Filip Daems, Lukasz Piszczek, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juan Arango, Lars Bender, Franck Ribery, Gökhan Töre, Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
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