Rain was the theme of this weekend in the Bundesliga, as most of Matchday 19’s fixtures were heavily influenced by mother nature, with Dortmund, Gladbach, Wolfsburg and Bayern all affected by the weather to various degrees. Of course, rain will not be a sufficient excuse for a manager like Pep Guardiola, who has once again stolen the headlines by announcing his move to Manchester City at the end of the season. Here at BundesligaFanatic, we honor Pep (who was bold enough to go with a 2-3-5 against Hoffenhem) with a 3-4-3 lineup of our team of the week.
In goal, Loris Karius of Mainz 05 was a no-brainer after making this save against Gladbach: https://streamable.com/s/soccer?first=r3h. The 22-year-old is quickly becoming one of the better netminders in the Bundesliga and his 6 saves were key in earning all 3 points at home for FSV. Augsburg’s Marwin Hitz can legitimately gripe about his 6 saves not being enough to win this spot over Karius, after single-handedly saving against Eintracht with 2-3 point-blank stops.
In defense, Marvin Plattenhardt from Hertha is a clear choice, despite his Berliners conceding 3 times against the dynamite that is Werder Bremen’s offense. He has made somewhat of a habit of scoring from free-kicks like this and that alone should be enough to secure a spot, but the 24-year-old left back also led his team with 3 key passes!
At right back, our choice is on BvB’s Lukasz Piszczek, whose 8 aerials and 82 touches were both high marks for Borussia’s ugly win over FC Ingolstadt. The 30-year-old Pole has just signed a contract extension for Dortmund and is showing, that when he is healthy, he should be the clear choice at RB for Thomas Tuchel. Matthias Ginter, the alternative to Piszczek also had a strong game, with 9 aerials and 72 touches. The 22-year-old was deployed in the Philip Lahm role (right back turned central midfielder) and rewarded his manager’s selection with 84.5% passing accuracy and 21 tackles won.
Speaking of Philip Lahm, he earns a spot for his masterful set up of Lewandowski for the second goal alone and for being all over the park in Sunday’s win over lowly Hoffenheim. The versatile World Cup winner, and Pep Guardiola’s favorite, perhaps wanted to honor his manager (who has finally revealed soccer’s worst kept secret and has chosen Manchester City) with a performance that featured 99 touches, 6 key passes, 94.5% passing accuracy.
You probably know that Bayern and Dortmund are the two best teams in the Bundesliga and therefore take the most shots, but would you care to guess which team is third in shots per game? That’s right, just a hair below BvB’s 15.8 it’s VfB Stuttgart with 15.6, a staggering figure when you consider that the team is fighting to avoid relegation.
Midfielder Lukas Rupp – VfB Stuttgart was instrumental in his team’s frantic victory over the once again unlucky HSV, as he put up 5 of his teams 24 shots, 41 passes and 3 key passes and 3 tackles. For comparison, he averages 1.5 shots, 1.7 tackles and 1 key pass and 30 total passes per game. The right-winger also put in 12.5 kms running with 49 sprints – the 3rd highest total so far in the Bundesliga season. (Tarik Elyounoussi leads with 54 on Matchday 14).
While Timo Werner’s maddening inconsistency still mars the VfB finishing, the team has improved, thanks to great performances from Filip Kostic (17 crosses and a team high 5 intereceptions in this game) and Rupp. Their defense (aside from whatever Georg Niedermeier was doing to let Rudnevs in behind him) has improved thanks to eliminating youngster Timo Baumgartl from the starting lineup and adding former Dortmund and Germany stalwart Kevin Grosskreutz. Even Przemyslaw Tyton is making excellent saves. Die Schwaben have won 3 straight, are unbeaten in 5 games and are now sitting on 21 points and should continue this upswing.
Danny Latza – must have felt like he ran a marathon on Friday, for FSV Mainz with 13.8 kms covered, 2nd most in a game this season behind, who else, but Vladimir Darida (had 13.9 on Matchday 5). His 110 runs in the game are also significant, because Stefan Kiessling had 69 for the 2nd most on Matchday 19. According to the Bundesliga’s official website, the previous high was 86, so the 26-year-old German definitely needed to ice up after that performance. We would be remiss, if we did not mention his 6 key passes in this game, 6 times higher than his per game average. Together, with tackling machine Julian Baumgartlinger (still leading the Bundesliga in tackles with 3.7 per game) they have been vital to Mainz’s success this season (in 8th spot due to goal difference, but level on points with Wolfsburg) and a big reason why fleet-footed guys like Yunus Malli, Jairo Samperio and Yoshinori Muto (18 of the team’s 24 goals) have been able to thrive for Martin Schmidt.
Schalke 04’s Max Meyer had a goal and assist in a 2-0 triumph over Darmstadt and was not to be outdone by his more famous fellow 20-year-old teammate Leroy Sané who was very unfortunate not to be credited for 2 assists. I am not sure how Sané doesnt get credit for Meyer’s goal, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg really should have made it 3, if he weren’t Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg… Granted it was against Darmstadt, but supporters of Die Königsblauen should definitely be encouraged by both the Meyer/Sané duo and the team’s domination in this game.
In attack, Robert Lewandowski keeps on obliterating records, this time it was taking 12 shots against Hoffenheim, 25% more than his previous Bundesliga high 9. The Polish striker has now upped his average to 6 shots per game, with an even more unbelievable 5 shots inside the area! He has taken 57 shots on target this season, or 3.16 per game (played 18 games). Hoffenheim, as a team, with you know 11 players and stuff are averaging 3.11 shots on target per game! Might wanna keep him out of the 6 yard box, guys…
Speaking of keeping people out of their comfort zones. Bayer Leverkusen put in perhaps the most dominant performance of the weekend, in a 3-0 thrashing of Hannover 96, which also included 3 shots hitting the post. The chief culprit was Stefan Kiessling again, who was just too much for the 96ers, as he won 25 tackles, 9 aerials, hit the post, earned a penalty and scored with a great header. I mean, it’s not like Kiessling is an absolute monster in the air, averaging 7.2 headed duels won that is tied for the league with Augsburg’s Caiuby. Surely, Thomas Schaaf knows that the veteran German averages close to 5 aerials won per game in his career, yet Hannover were beaten by him in the air time and time again.
Rounding out our XI is who else, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang whose 2 goals were the difference in an otherwise sloppy, ugly and fortunate victory in front of 81,000 at the Signal Iduna Park. The Gabonese international rebounded nicely from a poor match last week to take his Bundesliga total to 20 goals.
With apologies to the 37-year-old Claudio Pizarro, who is playing like he is 27 and single-handedly trying to keep Werder in the Bundesliga. Anthony Modeste, a superb goal along with 4 shots ,3 of them on target, is also keeping FC Cologne in the middle of the table with very little help. Also, sorry to Chicharito, he gets enough awards anyway.
Jairo Samperio had perhaps his best game against BMG on Friday, with a weaving run past 3 Gladbach players setting up Clemens’s goal. Leverkusen’s entire midfield (prodigal son and interception machine, Kevin Kampl, Hakan “I hate the woodwork” Calhanoglu, trickster Karim Bellarabi, 90% passer Christoph Kramer) has a strong case, but no dice.
Cleber from HSV is rather harshly left off this list, despite his monster defensive effort (4 tackles, 6 interceptions and 7 clearances), as is ToTW favorite David Alaba, who must be wondering, just how many more touches he needs to have to make this team, if 135 were not enough. Seriously, the Austrian completed 111 passes and somehow missed out.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments.
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