Team of the Week – Match Day 29

Matchday 29 was one filled with goals, 33 in total, some crucial wins and more records set by Bayern Munich.  The recently crowned champions emphatically beat regional rivals Nurnberg while Borussia Dortmund too made a statement of intent with one of their biggest wins under Klopp against Greuther Furth.  Elsewhere Schalke came from two goals down to snatch a point against Leverkusen while Augsburg got the most significant win of the weekend, beating Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.  Freiburg also impressed on Friday and pulled within a point of a Champions League spot while Dusseldorf and Bremen fought to a dramatic draw in the heat of the relegation battle.

Goalkeeper

Tom Starke – It’s a shame we don’t see Starke more regularly.  He is certainly good enough to start for most first teams in the league and against Nurnberg he proved his qualities.  His penalty save (with his head!) on Timmy Simons (his first ever penalty miss) will be most remembered from this match but his athletic saves and great concentration allowed Bayern to keep yet another clean sheet when Nurnberg upped the pressure in the second half.  To top it all off, Bayern got their 25th win on the season, a new record in itself, and their 100th at the Allianz Arena.

Defenders

Jerome Boateng – Before this season Boateng just could not find the back of the net in the Bundesliga. Now he already has two, his second of which will be replayed many times, an acrobatic lateral bicycle kick.  And for the first time in his career, Boateng was involved in two goals as he also set up Bayern’s second with a great ball into Mario Gomez.  Daniel Van Buyten’s experience may be preferred by Jupp Heynckes in Europe but Boateng proves with every chance he gets that he is a worthy starter.

Marcel Jansen – Hamburg needed to make a statement against Mainz.  After criticizing his own team during the week, Jansen also needed to put in a strong performance.  Fortunately for him and the team he did that several times over.  He backed up his comments and showed great leadership with a hard working and influential performance at one of the toughest places to play in the league.  Along with Son, Jansen had the most goal attempts in the game, all while playing at left-back, an excellent overall performance from one of the team’s veterans and leaders now.

Midfielders

Jonathan Schmid – What a season its been for Freiburg and 22-year old Schmid.  With Kruse and Rosenthal on their way out, Schmid will play a big part in Freiburg’s future and all signs so far show he is capable of handling that pressure.  Against Hannover, Schmid created the first goal, set up the second and scored the third himself in maybe his best outing of the season.  Over the year, Schmid has evolved from a direct winger to a highly versatile and functional player and his speed and technique have been crucial in Freiburg’s performances and results.

Mario Götze – What can you say about Goetze that hasn’t already been said?  Dortmund will no doubt have all the big European clubs knocking at the door this summer for what is arguably the most talented young player in world football.   Against Greuther Furth, and an exhausting midweek European tie, Goetze played out of his mind at the weekend.  He scored two fantastic goals and set up another against Furth and all in just 45 minutes on the pitch.  Calling any 20-year-old world class is contentious but there is no question that Goetze belongs in that category, especially after the season he has been having.

Ilkay Gundogan – Another player who has world class written all over him, Gundogan scored his first brace for Dortmund (and his first since 2010) against Furth as Dortmund equaled their greatest ever away win in the league.  At his best, Gundogan is sublime to watch and he again controlled the game with silky smooth touches, great link up play and this time around also a fantastic finish on his second goal.  Gundogan showed that he can more than adequately fill in playing off the striker, combining the creativity of Kagawa with the presence Sahin showed in Dortmund’s first title-winning season two years ago.

Jakub Blaszczykowski – Kuba continued his brilliant form this season with a remarkable performance against Furth.  He was directly involved in four goals, the first time in his 163 Bundesliga matches, as he assisted three of Dortmund’s goals and scored another himself with a courageous diving header.   That brings him into double digits in goals (13) and assists (13) in all competitions this season.  Although direct, Kuba brings so much industry and aggression to Dortmund’s game that compliments the guile and creativity of those around him.

Stefan Reisinger – One of German football’s great enigmas.  We’ve said before how talented of a player Reisinger can be and every now and then you get a glimpse of that potential.  In Dusseldorf’s big match against Bremen the versatile attacker scored just two minutes into the game and again popped up out of nowhere to give his team the lead later in the game.  If it weren’t for Latka’s own goal it could have arguably been their most important three points of the season.  Reisinger will no doubt play a big part if Fortuna are to stay in the Bundesliga.

Forwards

Heung-Min Son – It was a game of two halves for the young South Korean.  In the first half against Mainz he was barely involved and didn’t even got a single shot on goal.  The second was a different story as Son exploded into life.  He got Hamburg’s first with a great finish that cannoned off the crossbar and the second was a thing of beauty, a run from the halfway line before faking Mainz’s goalkeeper and essentially sealing the win.  If Son plays like he did in the second on a consistent basis and can build on his scoring record he can be world class.   It was his 10th and 11th of the season, making him the team’s top scorer and few players in his age group are as explosive.

Max Kruse – The more the season winds down, the harder it will be to accept that Kruse will leave Freiburg.  The former St. Pauli player has had one of the best individual season from a Freiburg player in a long time and against Hannover he scored his 10th of the season in the league and overall he has been involved in 19 in all competitions for his team, remarkable considering he played in the 2. Bundesliga last year.  The transition has been incredible and big things lay ahead in Kruse’s future, regardless of where he plays.

Dong-Won Ji – Even though he came in on loan, the South Korean could prove to be one of the signings of the season.  Ji has been a big part of Augsburg’s revival in the second half of the season and was responsible for helping them to another crucial three points this weekend against Eintracht Frankfurt.   His brace (it really should have been a hatrick) put Augsburg three points ahead of Hoffenheim and another three behind Dusseldorf as the season winds down.  Previously harmless, their attack is now capable of producing some of the best attacks in the league.

Coach of the Week

Jurgen Klopp – Like Jupp Heynckes and Bayern Munich, Dortmund are building a squad with the quality in depth of maintaining results and performances amidst rotation.  It hasn’t always worked this year but Dortmund are on the right track.  This weekend, Klopp made four changes after his midweek match against Malaga and came away with one of Dortmund’s biggest wins in league history.  Gundogan played off the striker, Gotze on the left and Grosskreutz at left-back but Dortmund were still at their dynamic exciting best.

Honorable Mentions

Mats Hummels, Naldo, Rafinha, Nuri Sahin, Julian Schuster, Emre Can,  Kevin De Bruyne,  Xheradn Shaqiri, Franck Ribery, Andre Schuerrle, Teemu Pukki, Robert Lewandowski,

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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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