Team of the Week – Match Day 3

Matchday 3 was by far the most action packed of the new season. 32 goals were scored, many of which will fill highlight reels for the remainder of the year, and arguably the three most exciting games of the season took place.  Hannover edged out Bremen in dramatic fashion in another norther derby while Nürnberg provided Lucien Favre’s Gladbach with his biggest home loss yet.  On Sunday Freiburg and Hoffenheim’s encounter produced the most goal laden match of the season and Eintracht Frankfurt continued their fairytale start to the season against struggling Hamburg.  Elsewhere title favorites Bayern and Dortmund won in decisive fashion while Stuttgart continued to flail against newly promoted Düsseldorf.

Here is who stood out this this memorable matchday:

Goalkeeper

Fabian Giefer –  It is amazing to think that the just promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf remain the only club in the league to concede a goal three weeks into the new season.  And a big part of that has been Giefer’s performances in the net and his best yet may have come against Stuttgart this weekend. The 22 year old was the biggest reason why Fortuna left Stuttgart with a point, making save after crucial save when called upon.  Norbert Meier understands that defense first and foremost is how promoted teams stay in the Bundesliga and if they manage to beat relegation Giefer will have played a significant role.

Defenders

Mats Hummels – After having an off night against Nürnberg last matchday the Dortmund center back was back to his best against Leverkusen.  He opened the scoring with a well placed header on a corner and was dominant in his own half, keeping Schürrle and Kiessling firmly in check throughout the game.  Hummels initiated Dortmund’s build up brilliantly and remained cool under pressure, ensuring that Dortmund extended their unbeaten run in the league to 31 and that they set a new league record, scoring in their 26 last home matches in the league.

Joel Matip – The competition for a starting spot may just have motivated the Schalke defender to step ups his game another gear. With both Höwedes and Papadopoulos doing well Matip has to maintain a certain level of performance to keep his place and so far this season he has delivered.  Against Fürth Matip was one of Schalke’s best players and helped control the game from the back while dealing with Fürth’s unpredictable counter attacking game.

Lukasz Piszczek – Last year he was the league’s best fullback by quite a margin.  This year the expectations are even greater and after two uncharacteristically quiet performances by his standard in the opening two weeks the Polish rightback was back to his rampaging best against Leverkusen.  Keeping Schürrle firmly in check and linking up brilliantly with his countryman Kuba in front of him Piszczek reminded everyone why he was linked with a move to Real Madrid in the summer.

Midfielders

Hiroshi Kiyotake – Shinji Kagawa who?  Kiyotake’s impressive performances for Nürnberg have been some of the best of the season so far and provides yet another example of the seamless adaptation of and quality of Japanese players entering German football.  Against Gladbach, Kiyotake’s brilliant delivery on set pieces assisted his team’s first two goals before confidently putting away the match winner.  His technique, reading of and ability to bring players into the game have already made him one of the most exciting players early on in the season.

Max Kruse – On their day, Freiburg can be one of the most exciting teams in the league.  Their 5-3 win against Hoffenheim was one of the most entertaining in recent memory.  Frantic defending aside, it was exciting because of players like Kruse who had two assists and a goal in the game but was involved in all of Freiburg’s 5 goals.  Kruse started on the left but was everywhere, ran more than any other players and made terrific runs that gave Hoffenheim’s defense fits all game long.

Szabolcs Huszti – It would not be far fetched to call the Hungarian player the league’s best performer so far.  The 29 year old followed up last week’s memorable performance with another outstanding outing against norther rivals Werder Bremen.  An assist and two goals, one of which was a last minute bicycle kick matchwinner, speaks for itself.  Huszti was also subject to the quickest yellow-red in Bundesliga history for his emotional celebration but the only crime is that we won’t be watching him play next week.

Takashi Inui – Already a gem of a player in his time at Bochum Inui may just prove to be one of the best transfers of the season.  Another one  in a long line of technically gifted Japanese attackers, Inui can play anywhere across the front line and possesses a great vision of the field.  He scored his team’s opener against Hamburg but more important than that was his general involvement and chemistry with Alex Meier which is proving to be the heart of this new exciting Frankfurt side.

Lewis Holtby – It didn’t take long before the 21 year old made Schalke’s midfield his own.  Holtby may not match Raul’s qualities just yet but so far he has done a fantastic job replacing him.  His energy and fitness match those of a central midfielder yet he possesses great technique and vision and has been thriving since he was moved up into his preferred role behind Huntelaar.  Against Fürth he put in another quality performance, scoring their second goal and continuously being in the right place at the right time.

Forwards

Thomas Müller – The Bayern München attacker continued his great form this season with another standout performance, this time against a Mainz side which they have recently struggled against.  Müller wasn’t fazed in the slightest though and tormented Mainz all night.  He set up Mandzukic for the quickest goal of the season and was involved in almost all of Bayern’s attacks.  Müller won more challenges than anyone else and could have easily had a hattrick were it not for some ill fortune.

Karim Guede – Guede is unique in many ways.  He is one of the few strikers in the league who has also been used in central midfield.  He is also a Slovakian international born in Hamburg with Togolese roots.   Using him up front may have been a master stroke by Streich but it also makes sense considering his ability to hold the ball and win challenges which he used to perfection against Hoffenheim.  He scored his team’s opener, had another 6 shots and set up a couple of others for his teammates.  Surely one of the more interesting tactical choices made in the league this season.

Coach of the Week

Jupp Heynckes – Bayern have struggled against pressing sides in recent memory, something Heynckes admitted before their match this weekend.  On top of that, they were without their two star players Ribery and Robben.  Despite that, Bayern pulled off one of their best performances against Thomas Tuchel’s side.  Heynckes has so far made perfect use of his great depth without a noticeable drop in performance.  Having several star players is one thing, managing all of them is another and Heynckes has done that brilliantly so far.

Honorable Mentions

Kevin Trapp, Mohamed Amsif, Timm Klose, Philipp Lahm, Marcel Schmelzer, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Toni Kroos, Leon Andreasen, Xherdan Shaqiri, Takashi Usami, Diego, Julian Draxler, Olivier Occean, Mario Mandzukic

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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

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