As the Zweite Liga enters its winter break, it seems a good time to look back at the second tier’s Hinrunde and see which players have been the stand-out performers so far in the quest for promotion to the Bundesliga……
Nils Petersen (SC Freiburg)
Goals have been the order of the day for Nils Petersen this season- and plenty of them. He began the season in stunning style with a hat trick inside just 13 minutes on match day one against Nürnberg and he has just kept on putting the ball in the back of the net ever since. A total of 15 goals in 18 games (including a second hat trick against Paderborn) sees him atop the Bundesliga 2 scoring charts by five goals over VfL Bochum’s Simon Terodde and makes the 27 year-old striker the favorite to win the league’s scoring title, something Petersen did in 2010/2011 when with Energie Cottbus.
Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig)
Leipzig’s Swedish winger has been arguably their best player so far, contributing five goals and four assists while helping Leipzig to the top of the table going into the winter break. The 24-year-old has played in all but two matches and has consistently put in excellent performances. His form in the second division has seen called into the Swedish national side and he scored in the Euro 2016 play-off first leg win over Denmark, leading RB trainer Ralf Rangnick to claim that Forsberg had more influence on the game than the great Zlatan Ibrahimovic!
Lasse Sobiech (St Pauli)
The Hamburg side’s 24-year-old centre back has enjoyed a very good Hinrunde and seems to be enjoying the added responsibility of being the club’s interim captain. In the absence of Sören Gonther he has built a solid partnership with youngster Philipp Ziereis and even scored twice (one from the penalty spot, although he has also missed one). With the fourth best defence in the league, the Freibeuter der Liga are pushing for a top three place.
Vincenzo Griffo (SC Freiburg)
The Breisgauer’s Italian free-kick specialist is making quite a name for himself this season with eight goals (four of them from direct free-kicks) and five assists already. His performance against SpVgg Greuther Fürth on match day 11 was simply sublime, and the former Hoffenheim man has been at the forefront of much of Freiburg’s impressive football this season as they seek an instant return to the Bundesliga.
Aziz Bouhaddouz (SV Sandhausen)
Three goals in the opening three games from the striker was a great start, but a knee injury on match day three meant a period on the sidelines. On his return after six games out, he came on against St.Pauli, won a penalty and converted it to seal a 3-1 win. He’s since added three more goals and is showing signs of getting back to his best.
Simon Terodde (VfL Bochum)
Aside from the final five games of the Hinrunde, where he experienced a mini-drought, Bochum striker Terodde has been banging in the goals with a regularity to match Nils Petersen. The 27-year-old hit five in the first five games before adding a further five before the break.
Dominik Kaiser (RB Leipzig)
The club captain signed a new contract in October keeping at the Red Bull Arena until 2018. That is very good news for RB fans judging by the season he is having. The midfielder is a key pillar in the Leipzig team and has led by example so far this season as the club seek automatic promotion to the top flight.
Mirko Boland (Eintracht Braunschweig)
Until a knee injury caused him a brief lay-off, fan favourite Mirko Boland was enjoying a very good Hinrunde. He has experienced promotion to the Bundesliga with the club once before in 2013 and would dearly love to do it again this year. His best ever scoring season was that promotion season, but he has already equalled that tally with his four Hinrunde goals.
Arne Feick (Heidenheim)
The defender has played in every minute of every game so far and helped give Heidenheim one of the stingiest defences in the league. Frank Schmidt’s side has only conceded 20 goals in its first 19 league match and Feick has been one of the keys to that. He has scored once in the league, but also grabbed one of the goals in the third round DFB Pokal win over Erzgebirge Aue, which put the club into the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
Maximilian Philipp (SC Freiburg)
A third SC Freiburg player completes the list with striker Maximilian Philipp impressing in the Hinrunde. His strike partner Petersen may have grabbed the plaudits at the start of the season with his goals, but the 21-year-old contributed six assists in his first seven games. He’s added four goals to his stats and has become a key figure in Christian Streich’s set-up.
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