Team of the Week – Match Day 22

Defending champions Borussia Dortmund put on a masterclass down a player for most of the match against Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich set yet another Bundesliga record in their win at Wolfsburg and Hamburg continued their fine form with a narrow win over Borussia Mönchengladbach.  On Sunday, Stuttgart finally broke their winless streak and recorded their first three points of the calender year while a last minute goal earned Nurnberg a vital point against Hannover.

Goalkeeper

Wolfgang Hesl – Unfortunately for Hesl, his fantastic performance against Dusseldorf was not enough to earn his side a point but anyone who watched the match knew that the scoreline could have been much much worse than 1-0.  Hesl did well to save Schachin’s penalty early on and made several other impressive saves throughout the match.  Few Furth players have been able to impress this season but Hesl was definitely one of them against Fortuna.

Defenders

Mats Hummels – It’s difficult to play down a player.  It’s even more difficult when your opponent are known for their attacking strengths.  That said, Hummels and Dortmund made it look easy against Eintracht Frankfurt.  The center-back bossed one of the league’s strongest attacks and had his usual trademark runs up the field.  His run and pass for Reus’ second goal was sublime and worthy of a play by the best playmakers around.  Defensively he won every duel that came his way, a brilliant performance after a shaky 90 minutes in the Ukraine midweek.

Slobodan Rajkovic – It’s been quite the turnaround for the Serb.  Not too long ago his falling out with coach Thorsten Fink almost resulted in him leaving the club.  A couple of months later Rajkovic is a regular again and an important part of the team’s strong defensive performances and push for Europe.  Against Gladbach, Rajkovic won over 81% of his duels and completed over 85% of his passes in a very very strong showing.  Fink has really fine tuned his squad and Rajkovic is a big part of their great form as of late.

Matthias Ginter – A year on after his league debut, young Ginter celebrated his anniversary with a fantastic display in the most exciting match of the weekend.  The 19-year-old held off Bremen’s dangerous attack as well as any 19-year-old could have, albeit with a bit of luck and help from the post, and also scored the match winner. He remains one of the most promising young defensive talents in the league and is continuing to grow in leaps and bounds under Streich’s tutelage.

Midfielders

Daniel Caligiuri – By now, Bremen vs. Freiburg is a guaranteed thriller every time the fixture approaches and on matchday 22 it was no different.  Freiburg picked up their first win against Bremen in over a decade in large part thanks to Caligiuri’s fantastic performance.  He not only converted the penalty he himself won, which made it five out of five for penalties for him so far, but he also constantly put Bremen under pressure on the left.  No matter how much he tried, Ignjovski was never able to get a grip on Caligiuri in this match.

Andreas Ivanschitz – Ivanschitz is another player who doesn’t get quite get the recognition he deserves.  The Austrian attacker is one of Mainz’s most consistent player week in and week out and showed his qualities against Schalke.  He set up and scored in their draw and used his weaker right foot on both.  All the while, he constantly ran back to help his team out defensively. A great overall performance by the Austrian and his team who continue to be extremely difficult to break down at home.

Michel Bastos – The Brazilian is off to a flying start with Schalke since coming over from France in January. He already has three goals in his first three matches for the club.  His brace against Mainz were two of the most important goals the club will score this season as it saved a vital result for them in their quest to turn around their poor form.  If his teammates can help set up more shots for him on his left foot, we could well see several more goals from the former Lyon man.

Bastian Schweinsteiger– The Bundesliga veteran answered all his recent critics in the best way possible, with consistently outstanding performances.  Against Wolfsburg, Schweinsteiger missed Martinez next to him but still put on a fantastic performance to keep Bayern on their record-breaking path to the title. On Sunday national team coach Joachim Loew came out and said Schweinsteiger excels at setting the pace of a game and against Wolfsburg he did just that. From beginning to end, Schweinsteiger was the heartbeat of Bayern and the general on the pitch.

Forwards

Stefan Kiessling – We’ve pointed out Kiessling’s abilities and performances this season plenty of times but it’s impossible to overlook his influence in games and his impact on this Leverkusen team.  Whenever Leverkusen do well and win, Kiessling’s fingerprints are all over it.  Against Augsburg, the striker scored the first and brilliantly set up the second all while typically running nonstop for 90 minutes.  Some of his assists and touches this season are also indicative of a player who has really evolved his arsenal of tricks and skills.

Marco Reus – Because of Julian Schieber’s sending off early in the game, Reus and Goetze became de facto strikers and both executed their roles to perfection.  Reus has become arguably the best finisher in the league and all three goals against Frankfurt proved it.  His runs were timely, his finishing deadly and his off the ball work vital in keeping Frankfurt pressed back. It was his second career hattrick in the Bundesliga and you can bet it won’t be his last.

Mario Goetze – Like Reus, Goetze’s performance against Frankfurt will stand as one of the best this season.  He brilliantly assisted the first goal and then outdid himself on the second, taking on almost the entire backline and showing how well he holds off defenders and still finds a great pass under all that pressure. Lewandowski may be out the door in the summer but with Goetze and Reus Klopp can breathe easy, knowing that he has two of the world’s biggest talents to fill the void.

Coach of the Week

Jurgen Klopp – Had Frankfurt beaten Dortmund, they would have leapfrogged the defending champions so the importance of the game cannot be understated.  It was even more difficult with Dortmund making the trip back from Eastern Europe after their midweek Champions League encounter.  Klopp was also missing the in form Lewandowski but despite all that, he had his players brilliantly motivated, resulting one of the most impressive performances all season, all while being a man down.  The team compensated brilliantly by not having a striker on the pitch which speaks volumes of Klopp’s preparation and training.

Honorable Mentions

Timo Hildebrand,  Sven Ulreich, Philipp Lahm, Dante, Daniel Carvajal, Hiroki Sakai, Martin Latka,  Julian Baumgartlinger, Lars Bender, Ilkay Gundogan,  Rafael van der Vaart, Nils Petersen, 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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