Team of the Week – Match Day 9

History was made all over Germany on the 9th matchday.  Bayern München suffered their first loss of the season as Bayer Leverkusen came away with their first win in München in over 23 years.  Up north Hannover’s incredible 22 unbeaten streak at home came to an end thanks to Borussia Mönchengladbach’s amazing second half comeback.  Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund won their first away match of the season in a snow covered Freiburg while Wolfsburg collected three points for the first time since opening day.  As always, some players stood out above the others, here is who impressed us the most this weekend.

Goalkeeper

Roman Weidenfeller – Snowy conditions make it next to impossible to play.  Even more difficult perhaps is the job of a goalkeeper, both in dealing with passes and shots that skip of the slippery surface as well as the visibility through snowfall.  Weidenfeller’s performance against Freiburg, especially in the first half, was fantastic considering the circumstances and helped keep his team in the game and secure their first away win of the season.

Defenders

Neven Subotic – Similar to his goalkeeper, Subotic’s job was made all that more difficult by the snowy conditions in Freiburg. The Serbian international held his own against a motivated and energetic Freiburg though and his go ahead goal was the turning point in Dortmund’s performance and eventual win.  He also won many important duels when it mattered most.

Junior Diaz – One of Mainz’s outstanding issues has been the constant rotation and volatility in the fullback positions but the form and performances of Junior Diaz over the last couple of weeks has brought them closer to finally sorting that out.  Against Hoffenheim the Costa Rican had his best performance yet for the club, setting up Szalai’s first goal and being a constant threat offensively.  Defensively he also held the dangerous Firmino in check.

Heiko Westermann – Instinct, positioning,being in the right place at the right time, etc.  Whatever you want to call it, Hamburg’s captain had it in spades against Augsburg on Friday. Being recalled to the National Team may have give him a boost because Westermann’s form has been inspirational in the last month.  He won 14 duels against Augsburg, had the second best pass rate in the game and made several key clearances and interceptions.

Midfielders

Mario Götze – Plagued by injuries and increased competition, Götze hasn’t had the easiest of times in the last couple of months but the prodigious young playermaker is slowly getting back to his best and was Dortmund’s key player in the whiteout in Freiburg. It took him a good 45 minutes to get into the game but once he did Götze pulled Dortmund along with him to an all important away win. His vision, acceleration and ingenuity shone through when the conditions got the best of most players on the pitch.

Ibrahima Traore – The active winger was ever present in Stuttgart’s win over Eintracht Frankfurt.  Constantly running and always eager to dribble, Traore was a thorn in Jung’s side and behind nearly every attack Stuttgart put together.  His crosses were always accurate and dangerous and he always got himself into good positions to initiate or set up attacks.

Jefferson Farfan – Divisive, erratic, emotional, Farfan isn’t exactly the most adorned player in the country but there is no doubting his talent. The Peruvian again showed why he is one of the best wingers in the game against a stubborn Nürnberg side.  Not only did he get the all important match winner but Farfan all but took on the entire Nürnberg side on his own and was behind many of Schalke’s dangerous attacks. Javier Pinola must have been glad when the final whistle came.

Juan Arango – Is there a better set piece taker in the league than Juan Arango?  Probably not.  Less than 10 minutes into the second half Gladbach were trailing 2-0 to a side that has not lost at home in 22 matches but thanks to Arango’s inspiration performance, Gladbach launched arguably the most impressive comeback of the season.  Arango’s delivery set up the equalizer and then scored the dramatic match winner via another highlight reel worthy direct free kick.  Maybe the most underrated midfielder in Europe.

Forwards

Adam Szalai – It was a special day for Mainz’s Hungarian striker.  He scored the seasons’ and his own first hattrick.  The Hoffenheim defense would have had an easier time with a wet bar of soap on Saturday as Szalai was not to be denied.  Three goals speak for themselves but Szalai’s off the ball runs, positioning and first touch were first class. His hattrick now brings him into second in the goalscorer charts with 7 goals just behind Bayern’s Mandzukic.

Stefan Kiessling – It had to happen eventually but Bayer Leverkusen still deserve a lot of credit for ending Bayern’s historic start to the season and getting their first win in München in 23 years.  Kiessling’s form has been steadily improving this season and on Sunday he scored his most important goal of the campaign.  The striker won more duels than any other player on the pitch (20) and gave Boateng and Dante headaches throughout the game.  Arguably the hardest working striker in Germany.

Bas Dost – The burden of expectation can weigh heavy on a man and considering the price tag shelled out for him in the summer by Wolfsburg and the reputation he carried with him from the Netherlands as a goalscorer the pressure could not have been bigger.  Dost struggled along with his team but Magath’s departure and a cathartic 2 goal performance against Düsseldorf was almost liberating.

 Coach of the Week

Sami Hyypia & Sascha Lewandowski –  Shared responsibilities, shared credit.  Leverkusen’s men in charge set their team out perfectly against the record breaking Bavarians.  Some teams pay the price for their defensive tactics but Leverkusen executed it brilliantly and exploited Bayern on the counter when they could.  Castro’s dual role was especially important as was Reinartz’s task of keeping an eye on the dangerous Toni Kroos.

Honorable Mentions

Max Grün, Mats Hummels, Philipp Wollscheid, Kevin Grosskreutz, Stefan Reinartz, Christian Gentner, Artjoms Rudnevs, Ivica Olic, Diego, Heung-Min Son, Mame Biram Diouf

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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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