Bundesliga MatchDay 16 Team of the Week

MatchDay 16 gave Bundesliga fans another exciting weekend, full of thrilling matches and outstanding performances. The leaders, Bayern Munich took care of business against the scrappy boys from Ingolstadt, turning it on in the second half for a 2-0 victory. Dortmund players flexed their collective muscles with an impressive 4 goal performance on 24 shots, despite the excellent Henrik Mkhitaryan with perhaps two of the misses of the season, as well as goal scoring machine Pierre Emerick Aubameyang missing a penalty. Bayer Leverkusen, after they should have beaten Barcelona in the midweek Champions League clash, opened the floodgates on poor Borussia Mönchengladbach, with a 5-0 thrashing, as the rejuvenation of Javier Hernandez continues with a hat-trick this time around and Stefan Kießling nabbing a brace along with a brilliant backheel assist . Hertha BSC were not far behind with a four goal shutout win over Darmstadt, as Pál Dárdai continues his sorcery in the capital.

Augsburg completed their dream week; with a 2-1 extra time win against Schalke 04, after advancing from the group stages in the Europe League on Thursday. And what a game winner that was! Hoffenheim grabbed a narrow 1-0 victory over Hannover 96, while HSV and Wolfsburg split the points, just like Werder Bremen and 1.FC Köln, with both games ending even Steven at 1-1. Rounding out the week, Friday’s match between Mainz and VFB Stuttgart ended in a goalless draw.

While there were a number of excellent performances, we can only pick 11 players for our Week 16 team of the week.

Let’s start in goal, where we apologize to Manuel Neuer, who is undoubtedly the finest netminder of the Bundesliga, but we’re picking Hamburg’s Rene Adler, who made 8 saves against Wolfsburg and was inspirational in the 1-1 draw, where his team got outshot 20 to 5 and managed to grab 1 point, in no small part to Dante Clause, who gifted the opening goal to HSV.

In the back, Philip Lahm is an obvious choice, for his goal, as well as his 75 touches and 3 key passes. Joining him at left back is Hertha’s Marvin Plattenhardt, with this marvelous free kick and his teammate Sebastian Langkamp, his near own goal notwithstanding, who lead his team to a shutout with game highs of 102 touches and 8 aerials, as well as 8 clearances. (Stats are from Whoscored.com). Last week’s team of the week member, John Brooks narrowly misses, despite a dominant performance and an assist. Last, but not least is Mats Hummels who had two shots on target, including his excellent finish for his second goal in the Bundesliga this season. He was also dominant in the air, with 6 aerial duels won. An apology must be issued to Werder’s Jannik Vestergaard for just missing the team, with his excellent display versus FC Cologne, which saw him put in a shift with 7 interceptions and 5 clearances, along with his goal.

In midfield, Stuttgart’s Lukas Rupp deserved a spot with his man of the match performance (hitting the post, 3 shots and 4 key passes) against Mainz.

Julian Weigl has been a revelation for BVB this season. You won’t really see him stuffing the stat sheets with amazing numbers, full of key passes and shots, but he bosses the midfield, much like Sergio Busquets does with Barcelona. He has an uncanny ability for always being open; always wanting the ball, and always making the right decision (the 92% passing accuracy is top class). The physically unassuming (1.86m and 71kgs) 20-year-old, who was named the youngest captain ever at 18 for 1860 Munich but later fell out of favor at the club after the now infamous “taxicab confessions.”  Weigl has proven to be the steal of the offseason with his paltry 2.5 million Euro price tag. In Sunday’s triumph he was exceptional with a whopping 190 touches (which, according to my research is the 2nd most touches in a game, behind Xabi Alonso’s 206 last year) and 95% accuracy.

Vieirinha gets the last spot in midfield in our 4-3-3 lineup for his efforts against HSV, just beating out the excellent Hakan Calhanoglu, from Leverkusen.

They shoot (young) horses in the Bay Arena, don’t they?

Speaking of die Werkself, they are all over the forward spots in this week’s lineup, with Javier Hernandez (a hat-trick on 3 shots) and Stefan Kiessling (2 goals, 2 assists) combining for 5 goals against Gladbach. The two veterans, with a little help of Barcelona tormentors Calhanoglu (who had an assist, a shot that hit the crossbar, 3 key passes and a team high 75 touches) and Karim Bellarabi, took the Foals back to the proverbial woodshed and when they emerged, they looked like this After the second goal, I think I actually saw a letter of complaint from PETA online after what Chicharito did to young Nico Elvedi.

Hertha’s Vedad Ibišević scored twice on MatchDay 16 with an assist, giving him an automatic place in the starting XI.  The 31 year-old has six goals in nine matches with Hertha Berlin after becoming an afterthought at VfB Stuttgart the last year or so.  With Hertha forwards Julian Scheiber and Sami Allagui sidelined during the Hinrunde, Hertha’s pickup of the veteran forward seems like another genius move that helps explain why Die Alte Dame are third in the table while the Swabians are last.

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Abel started out watching and playing soccer in Hungary, before falling in love with the Bundesliga in the mid -90s (thanks to Kicker and Sat1's Ran). Now, he's in the USA -- and still loving it all many years later. Abel is faithful to BVB, but also endlessly fascinated by the emergence of new teams and talents from Germany, to the point that he even started a website about it, at www.bundespremierleague.com. Otherwise, you can find him working in publishing, teaching ESL, and/or drinking craft beer - not necessarily at the same time, or in that order. Abel tweets at @VanbastenESL and @BundesPL

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