Team of the week – Match day 18

The Premier League and La Liga may have served as quick-fix solutions in avoiding football delirium, but every proper Bundesliga fan thanked the football god(s) this weekend for the return of Europe’s most-interesting league.

Match day 18 was full of surprises and great story lines. Here are the eleven players who caught our eye based on their performance on the pitch.

Goalkeeper

Bernd Leno – The first week after the winter break didn’t provide many standout keeper performances, but Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno gets the nod largely for the two vital saves in die Werkself’s draw with Borussia Dortmund.

Defenders

Matija Nastasic – Getting the ball from the back into the attack has been Schalke’s achilles heel this season. However, the newly purchased Nastasic looks like he could help Robert Di Matteo’s team in that regard. During his first outing in the Bundesliga the Serb managed to find another Schalke player with 88% of his passes.

Jannik Vestergaard – Many Bundesliga pundits rolled their eyes when they head that the great Dane had been purchased by Werder. In his first match for Bremen, though, Vestergaard managed to win a whopping 17 of 20 duels and even injected some vigor into the Werder attack by providing three shots from distance.

Tony Jantschke – A 92% pass-completion rate, 100% of areal duels won, two successfully completed take-ons (out of two), 4 interceptions, and 5 clearances . . . the Borussia defenders had a busy day at the office, but Jantschke managed to keep his cool throughout the entire match.

Daniel Brosinski – The former Fürth player has quietly established himself as one of the better right backs in the league. Against Paderborn he had another decent outing.

Midfielders

Kevin de Bruyne – Ruthless, efficient, willing to help the defence — the Belgian international had a busy day at the office and he crowned his sublime performance by scoring two of Wolfsburg’s four goals.

Marcel Risse – The Billy Goats maintained their good away form against Joe Zinnbauer’s lack-luster HSV. Former Mainz player Marcel Risse was the most important player of the match, scoring both goals to give Köln a well-deserved win. On a side note: Risse had never managed to score more than two goals in any Bundesliga season (he is now on three). This was also his first Bundesliga brace.

Yunus Malli – Two goals, one assist, and a great performance through and through. Many Mainz fans have had high hopes for Malli, and his great display against Paderborn is more than likely going to increase the 05’ers fans hopes that he will turn into a Bundesliga star.

Pablo De Blasis – The Argentine had the most sprints and the most runs of all the players on the pitch. His work rate alone would deserve honourable mention, but De Blasis made sure his performance wouldn’t be forgotten by providing two assists in addition to scoring a goal.

Strikers

Nils Petersen – Before the match against the Breisgau Brazilians. Thomas Schaaf had not yet tired of mentioning his former pupil and his efficiency in front of goal. And while the rest of Germany was listening to the former Werder boss’ warnings of former the former Werder strikers abilities, Schaaf’s current players apparently were not. It took Petersen a total of 25 minutes to compile a hat trick after coming off the bench. Petersen is just the eighth player in the history of the Bundesliga to score three goals as a substitute.

Bas Dost – Wolfsburg’s big win on Friday was mostly down to Dieter Hecking’s team being able to exploit Bayern’s high defensive line, plus the Wolves’ efficiency in front of goal. Bas Dost got the all-important match-opening goal. For his second, he scored one that will go down among the most beautiful goals of the season.

Honourable mention: Timo Baumgartl, Patrick Herrmann, Stefan Bell, Sami Allagui, Yann Sommer, Martin Stranzl, Naldo, Robin Knoche, Diego Benaglio, Christian Fuchs, Benedikt Höwedes, Emir Spahic, Mats Hummels, Franco Di Santo, Raul Bobadilla, Tobias Werner, Halil Altintop, Primin Schwegler, Vladimir Darida, Felix Klaus, Jonathan Schmid

Goal of the week

Did we mention Bas Dost’s second goal. He may never again score a goal this beautiful. Then again, that can be said for most players!

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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