Team of the Week – Match Day 14

The English week in the Bundesliga served up quite a few surprises.  Unsurprisingly though, Bayern further extended their claim as title favorites this year by wrapping up the “Fall Championship” with three matches to spare before the winter break.  Elsewhere, Hambug were surprise winners against Schalke while Mainz beat the in Armin Veh’s in form Eintracht Frankfurt on their own grounds.  Nürnberg got a much needed win at the expense of the floundering Hoffenheim while a resilient Düsseldorf held off the defending champions in Dortmund.

Goalkeeper

Rene Adler – What would Hamburg do without Adler’s incredible form this season?  The in form goalkeeper and recently recalled German international put in another match winning performance against Schalke on Tuesday. Not only has Hamburg’s defensive record improved drastically since he came in but he is single handedly winning them games this season. Against Schalke Adler was again in top form, making save after save and even saved Huntelaar’s penalty. Another remarkable performance from the 27 year old.

Defenders

Mario Eggimann – The centerback scored his first Bundesliga goal in three and a half years but more importantly, he won a match high 19 duels and defended well against the energetic Asamoah.  Eggimann was threatening in the air and never let a Fürth player get past him.  A strong and necessary showing from a defense that has been leaking too many goals for Mirko Slomka’s liking.

Nikolce Noveski – An outstanding performance for the Mainz captain.  After their loss to Dortmund, Mainz bounced back in great style against high flying Eintracht Frankfurt and in large part to Noveski’s strong performance.  Noveski scored his second of the season and set up another to lift Mainz into 7th in the standings.  He also won over 80% of his duels and helped stifle the usually effective and dynamic Frankfurt attack.

Dante – Another strong outing from the Brazilian defender.  Unlike their match against Hannover and even with a man advantage, Bayern did not find it easy in Freiburg.  Christian Streich’s team pushed forward in great numbers even after they had a player sent off but thanks to Dante’s awareness, great tackling and positioning Bayern capped off another win and sealed the “Fall Championship” earlier than any other side in Bundesliga history.

Midfielders

Milan Badelj – With the team’s inspirational midfielder van de Vaart missing Hamburg needed a player to step up and Badelj did just that against Schalke. The 23 year old Croatian midfielder pulled the strings in midfield for Hamburg, locking up space for Schalke’s attack to use and spraying pass after dangerous pass.  In the end he also converted a penalty to get his first Bundesliga goal,  Another example of the player’s massive potential.

Havard Nordteit – His teammate Arango might steal all the headlines for his fantastic goals but it was the industrious midfielder who was the hero of the night in Gladbach’s win against Wolfsburg.  The former Arsenal player assisted both Gladbach goals but was also their most dangerous player on the pitch with 5 attempts.  Nordtveit completed more passes than any other Gladbach player and won an impressive 13 duels against a reinvigorated Wolfsburg.

Gonzalo Castro – Under Lewandowski and Hyypia Castro has finally found some sense of consistency, both form wise and positionally.  The versatile 25 year old has played in just about every position but has thrived playing off the striker and in a free role this season.  His brace put Leverkusen on course for their third consecutive win and therefore leapfrogged Dortmund into second place.  Five goals so far is also a personal record for Castro in a single Bundesliga season.

Hiroshi Kiyotake – After a cooling off period following his ferocious start with Nürnberg this season, the Japanese playmaker was back to his best against Hoffenheim.  Inspiring, energetic and full of creativity, Kiyotake scored two goals and created several good opportunities for his teammates with his clever passes and runs.  At his best and when Nürnberg click it is easy to draw comparisons between Kiyotake and Shinji Kagawa.

Forwards

Shawn Parker – The 19 year old made his first Bundesliga start against Eintracht Frankfurt so no one was sure just what to expect from the talented yet volatile attacker.  Parker proved his ability though with a well taken assist and goal to get Mainz back to winning ways.  Even though he was only on the pitch for 68 minutes he was involved in 5 of Mainz’s 10 attempts.  A promising option for Mainz and Thomas Tuchel.

Mame Biram Diouf – There hasn’t been much to boast about for Hannover recently so a win against Greuther Fürth was important in getting them back on track.  Thanks to Diouf’s early goal and overall performance Hannover got the three points and only their second clean sheet since September.  Quick, strong, a great eye for goal and a fantastic understanding of how to move in and outside the box, Diouf has become one of the most well rounded strikers in Germany and is improving game by game.

Stefan Reisinger – Following his great cameo performance against Hamburg Reisinger got the start in Fortuna’s big game against Dortmund.  Paying back his coach’s faith, Reisinger delivered in spades.  The striker who played out wide on the right in this match got the all important equalizer but more importantly, he was a constant thorn in Santana and Schmelzer’s side and pinned the Dortmund leftback back into his own half and helped neutralize their threat on that side as a result.

Coach of the Week

Thomas Tuchel – After their loss to Dortmund over the weekend Tuchel took a big risk starting young Shawn Parker against an extremely strong Eintracht Frankfurt side but the risk paid off brilliantly.  Parker’s goal and assist were decisive and Tuchel’s other change from last weekend, Polanski, had his best showing yet this season.

Honorable Mentions

Steve Cherundolo, Adam Bodzek, Tony Jantschke, Leon Balogun, Michael Mancienne, Daniel Carvajal, Lars Bender, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Juan Arango, Andreas Lambertz, Julian Baumgartlinger, Konstantin Rausch, Simon Rolfes, Maximilian Beister, Teemu Pukki, Vedad Ibisevic

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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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