For over two decades now, the Bundesliga has ranked number one amongst the top 5 leagues in average goals per match. Matchday 12 was a quintessential example of the goal-ladden nature of the league. With 34 goals scored in the 8 matches not one club failed to find the back of the net this weekend as goals were hailing down like an autumn storm. Even Bayern struggled for once as they scraped a win against bottom placed Augsburg. Fellow cellar dwellers Freiburg and Mainz picked up two important wins while both Bremen and Gladbach pulled off thrilling comebacks to move up to 3rd and 4th respectively.
Here are our best 11 of Matchday 12:
Tim Wiese – In the 40th minute Lukas Podolski floated in the type of unpredictable free kick that ends up evading all players in the box. In any other circumstance that free kick would have landed in the back of the net but Wiese’s world class reflex kept the score at 1-0. Five minutes later Podolski managed to score but had Wiese not made that save earlier the game would have been beyond doubt and Bremen could not have launched the greatest comeback of the season so far and win 3-2. In hindsight, the save turned the tide of the match.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos – The Greek defender played perhaps his best game in a Bremen kit and was just as crucial to his side’s comeback as his more heralded Peruvian teammate. Sokratis owned the right flank in the second half, had more touches than any other Bremen player, won 2/3 of his duels and sent in cross after cross as he bombarded past an unwitting Peszko and Eichner. With performances like this Sokratis has slowly established himself as one of the league’s best right backs this season.
Heiko Westermann – Hamburg’s captain may lack the glamor of a player like Hummels or the praise of Badstuber but his dedication on the pitch and workrate is unquestionable. After filling in out wide Westermann was finally back in his preferred center back position against Leverkusen and thoroughly distinguished himself after a nervy start. Leading by example, Westermann started Hamburg’s comeback after being down two goals and remained both strong in the tackle and proactive in his distribution out of the back.
Mats Hummels – Not for the first time, Hummels’s sturdy defending and enterprising play from the back was a prominent feature in Dortmund’s performance. While he could have done better on Wolfsburg’s sole goal he put in a near flawless performance the rest of the way. Hummels won 13 duels, playing a big part in Mandzukic’s muted performance, and completed more passes than anyone on the pitch.
Marco Reus – Reus only has 77 Bundesliga matches to his name but already scored 5 braces in just his third full season in the top flight. His 5th brace came against Hertha Berlin after his side was down a goal and in need of a jolt. Never one to quietly float through a game, Reus took his first with impressive confidence and hammered with bold authority. Always dangerous, always active and with an impressive 86% of his passes completed, Reus continues to storm through the Bundesliga.
Andreas Ivanschitz – Having played mostly the part of an impact player off the bench the Austrian’s effective performances have slowly won over his coach. Against Stuttgart that trust was rewarded as Ivanschitz put on one of the better individual performance of a Mainz player this season. He calmly converted Mainz’s penalty and assisted their third goal to give his team their first win since August.
Lars Bender – Some players stop during a match to catch their breath or to refuel. Others, like L. Bender, appear to be running on an endless stream of energy. Against Hamburg, Bender was everywhere (running a match high 12.65 km), won 8 duels and completed 35 passes. He typified the ideal box-to-box player, defensively sound and dangerous going forward. Bender is slowly becoming the catalyst for much of Leverkusen’s positive play.
Mario Götze – If you believe the rumors, Arsenal are ready to break the bank for the prodigious talent. Until that happens, Götze will continue to light up the league as he did against Wolfsburg. His two well taken goals aside, Götze’s talent and creativity was bursting through the proverbial seams. At times Götze can be unplayable, as Wolfsburg’s backline found out, and his selflessness and vision echoes that of the great playmakers of the past.
Shinji Kagawa – Along with Götze, Kagawa was brains behind Dortmund’s dismantling of Wolfsburg. Kagawa reminded everyone of his outstanding form in the Hinrunde last season with his great goal and two assists, one of which was arguably the pass of the season as he played Lewandowski through with a defense splitting pass from the halfway line.
Claudio Pizarro – For a while it looked as though Köln were going to leave Bremen with an impressive away victory as the Billy Goats took a commanding 2-0 lead in the first half. Then came Pizarro. In 37 minutes those hopes were shattered by the Bundesliga’s most prolific foreign goalscorer. His first goal was classic opportunism, his second displayed tremendous concentration and his final goal showed Pizarro’s great positioning and instinct in front of goal. A perfect striker’s performance from a seemingly ageless footballer.
Teemu Pukki – When did Huntelaar change his first and last name? He didn’t. The Dutch striker was sidelined with injury. Replacing him was the young Finn who made his first start for Schalke. 90 minutes later Pukki turned from tyro to football hero. His brace earned Schalke a valuable point. Moreover, Pukki’s movement and threat in front of goal was very promising from a player with next to no experience in a top league.
Coach of the Week
Thorsten Fink – The Hamburg coach is still seeking his first win with his new club but his influence is becoming more visible each week. Against Leverkusen he did well to rally the team and come back after being down two goals. His attacking philosophy seems to fit the young players well and that approach was very much what got them back in the game on Saturday.
Manuel Neuer, Marcel Jansen, Mathias Abel, Anthony Ujah, Robert Lewandowski, Sven Bender, Kostas Fortounis, Jan Rosenthal, Christian Clemens, Lukas Podolski
Images courtesy of spox.com
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