Team of the Week – Match Day 13

Red Cards, Long range goals, bicycle kick goals, derbies….Round 13 in the Bundesliga had it all and then some.  Nürnberg and Greuther Fürth split the points in the Bundesliga’s first Frankenderby while up north Bremen and Wolfsburg played out their own stalemate.  Elsewhere, Bayern tore through Hannover like a tornado and Dortmund came from behind for the first time this season to beat Mainz.  On Sunday Freiburg continued their fine form with a win against a tired Stuttgart while Leverkusen went equal on points with Frankfurt thanks to their win against Hoffenheim.  Here are the best performers of the weekend:

Goalkeeper

Fabian Giefer – Fortuna Düsseldorf did the business up front against Hamburg but they needed their goalkeeper to be on his game to keep a clean sheet and ultimately the three points.  Giefer delievered in spades.  Adding to an already impressive start to the season Giefer was equal to everything Hamburg threw at him and gave his backline the security they needed to see out the game.  A strong performance from Giefer usually means a good result for Fortuna this season.

Defenders

Dante – Few players play with a bigger smile than the Brazilian defender and on Saturday he had a lot to be happy about as Bayern put on one of the finest team performances of the season against a hapless Hannover.  The Brazilian scored his first league goal for his new club and was a constant threat in the air on set pieces. All the focus has been on Bayern’s prolific attack but Dante has slotted into the team seamlessly and been one of the most consistent players in the league.

Daniel Carvajal – By this point the Spaniard’s influence is easy to see for everyone.  Quick, strong, athletic and incredibly sharp on the ball, Carvajal is almost like a playmaker in a fullback’s body and his prowess was again on display on Sunday against Hoffenheim.  Solid defensively and even better going forward Carvajal was dangerous all game long and crowned his performance with a wonderful goal after great combination with Schürrle, a goal that really exemplified his well rounded qualities as a player.

Sebastian Jung – Another strong performance from a right back.  Like Carvajal, Jung was instrumental for his team and although they did not win in the end Frankfurt showed that they can keep up with one of the most in form sides in the league. From the get-go Jung was dangerous going forward and did a great job to neutralize the attacking threat of Julian Draxler.  Most impressive of all perhaps was his performance as a center back after Anderson had to leave the match due to an injury.

Midfielders

Javi Martinez – The Bundesliga’s record transfer put on a performance fitting of his corpulent price tag.  Like Dante, Martinez scored his first goal for Bayern but did it in brilliant fashion, following Ibrahimovic and Mexes with an acrobatic overhead kick.  The great goal aside, Martinez pulled the strings in midfield like he did in all his years at Bilbao in what could very well be the best of many dominant Bayern performances this season.  He won 70% of his duels and completed nearly 100% of his passes.

Franck Ribery – This week Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge drew a comparison between Ribery, Ronaldo and Messi and the influence each has on their clubs and considering Ribery’s form in the last year and a half it’s not a stretch. Ribery again dazzled audiences everywhere over the weekend.  Hannover right back Steve Cherundolo never stood a chance against the elusive Frenchman. Ribery scored Bayern’s third and his sixth of the season to effectively decide the game before the 40th minute.  Again, simply unplayable.

Toni Kroos – Another Bayern player you say?  Well, that’s how dominant they were and Kroos, like Martinez and Ribery, had a field day against Hannover.  The 22 year old scored his 9th goal in all competitions in brilliant fashion with a falling volley from the edge of the box and assisted two of his team’s five goals.  With Bayern in full control, Kroos was at his creative best, always full of ideas and constantly in motion. At this rate Kroos is outdoing even his own impressive performances last year.

Lars Bender – Even when Leverkusen are off their game there is usually one player who keeps going and carries his team forward almost single handedly.  Lars Bender showed his strong leadership skills in a difficult game against Hoffenheim on Sunday.  The central midfielder scored his team’s opening goal and won many important tackles in midfield that otherwise could have resulted in a Hoffenheim comeback in the second half. Leverkusen’s midfield three of Bender, Reinartz and Rolfes has been a big reason for their form this season and with Bender in there it can easily be considered a midfield four.

Forwards

Marco Reus – Dortmund rarely ever have it easy against Thomas Tuchel’s Mainz and it was no different this Saturday.  Jürgen Klopp’s team had yet to come back to win a match when they went down which made things all that much more difficult when Mainz took the lead but thanks to another excellent performance from Reus Dortmund drew level and eventually came out on top.

Max Kruse – Freiburg have now lost only one of their last 8 matches and find themselves in a European spot. Against Stuttgart, the Breisgau Brazilians were simply unstoppable and Kruse was the central figure behind their big win. The attacking all rounder was involved in many of his team’s 26 attempts (a club record this season) and ran the Stuttgart defense ragged. He also added his fifth goal of the season and in a season where many of Freiburg’s young players have impressed Kruse may very well be Christian Streich’s secret weapon.

Robbie Kruse – Alongside Fabian Giefer, Kruse has without a doubt been Fortuna Düsseldorf’s standout player and one of the revelations of the season.  The energetic Australian attacker’s workman performance finally paid off on Friday as his opening goal helped lead Fortuna to their very first home win of the season and their first three points since September.  Last year he was only a marginal figure at the club and only a few months later he is one of the first names on the teamsheet for Norbert Meier.

Coach of the Week

Norbert Meier – First home win of the season, first win in 7 matches and out of the relegation zone. Not a bad weekend at all for Meier’s men.  The Fortuna coach sent out an extremely motivated and passionate side that put two past one of the league’s most stringent defenses.  His decision to start Rafael paid dividends as he held the ball up much better and brought his teammates into the game and the substitution of Reisinger was an inspired one.

Honorable Mentions

Kevin Trapp, Sebastian Mielitz, Philipp Lahm, Fallou Diagne, Bo Svensson, Tobias Levels, Carlos Zambrano, Marcel Schmelzer, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Cedric Makiadi Diego, Sven Bender, Mario Götze, Jan Rosenthal, Stefan Reisinger, Robert Lewandowski, Sascha Mölders, Mario Gomez, Thomas Müller, Alexander Meier

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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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