Bundesliga Match Day 22 Team of the Week

Matchday 22 showcased the best and the worst of the Bundesliga, with the quick turnaround after the European Cups resulting in several sloppy and defensive affairs. Case in point, the matches featuring 4 rested teams in Bayern vs. Darmstadt and Hoffenheim against Mainz featured 9 goals, while the rest of the 8 matches combined for 9 as well.While Wolfsburg, Dortmund, Leverkusen, Schalke, and Augsburg all could point to their Wednesday and Thursday European fixtures as an excuse for their lackluster performance, HSV and Frankfurt really had none for such a Friday night snoozefest. It was disappointing to see Eintracht struggle, as Alex Meier could not get any service from Marco Fabian and the previously excellent Szabolcs Huszti, while the HSV striker merry-go-around of Drmic, Rudnevs and Lasogga remained consistently inconsistent.

Champions Bayern, despite a makeshift defense that lead to having to come from behind against Darmstadt, showed while they are the class of the league in a 3-1 beatdown that saw them take 36 shots – 15 more than  their 21 average! For comparison, third place Hertha average 9.5 shots per game. Second place Dortmund kept pace with a fortunate win at bronze medalist Leverkusen, that will be remembered forever as the Felix Zwayer (referee) game. While many have questioned Thomas Tuchel’s rotation, and rightfully so – as a midfield featuring Ginter, Leitner and Bender revealed that the former Mainz’s coach’s intentions were pretty clearly not to play Barcelona like tiki-taka – BvB got the all-important result thanks to Aubameyang’s 21st of the season. Let’s also give Tuchel some credit for selecting Erik Durm – voted man of the match – ahead of Marcel Schmelzer at left back and for being able to win those tough grind it out games that Jürgen Klopp’s squad struggled with.

Salomon Kalou’s 11th goal of the season saved a point for 4th place Hertha against no. 8 Wolfsburg in a pretty even affair. Gladbach came out strong against Cologne in their Rhein derby and were able to dominate the midfield via Mahmoud Dahoud and Granit Xhaka. BMG goalie Yann Sommer saved the day several times against substitute Milos Jojic, while Schalke were in control of their match vs. the streaking VfB Stuttgart, but needed 8 saves from Ralf Fahrmann to hang on to a 1-1 draw. It was not the sharpest performance from either teams, as Klaas Jan-Huntelaar (3shots on target) and Timo Werner (5 shots) both failed to take advantage of their opportunities. In the bottom half of the table, someone needs to break up Ingolstadt, as they scored TWO GOALS IN ONE GAME! Naysayers would  point out that those 2 goals came in the form of a set piece scramble and a penalty, and against the league’s worst defense in Werder, but still, when you have 14 goals in 21 games you take whatever you can get. Speaking of scoring, Hoffenheim ran wild and hit 3 past the usually reliable Mainz defense, with Mark Uth scoring his 2nd and 3rd goals of his career thanks to a couple of great runs by Kevin Volland and Pavel Kaderabek. That Julian  Nagelsmann magic seems to be working. Augsburg had a strong showing against Liverpool on Thursday and managed to come away with 3 points from Hannover, where the hosts will no doubt be disappointed after outshooting the visitors 16-11, especially on an 8 game losing streak.  And in terms of the relegation battle, just how huge was Marwin Hitz’s stoppage time save?

Here arethe updated projections for each Bundesliga team, as per the excellent Goalimpact website. Werder Bremen had better watch out for Hoffenheim!

After that little roundup, let’s see who made Round 22’s Team of the Week!

Goalkeeper – Christian Mathenia faced 36 shots from Bayern, 13 of those hitting the target, and he made 10 saves, but did allow 3 to get past him as his SV Darmstadt lost 3 to 1.
Yann Sommer made 6 saves and kept a clean sheet vs Cologne and will permanently feature in Milos Jojic’s nightmares (5 shots ,4 on target). Our award could go to Ralf Fahrmann of  Schalke 04 for making 8 saves (including a brilliant one on the Christian Gentner header that led to Martin Harnik’s equalizer) vs Stuttgart in an entertaining 1-1 draw, but we are picking Marwin Hitz for the save at 1:45 here, because it meant all 3 points for Augsburg against Hannover. The 28-year-old continues to shine for FCA and is another member of the union of great netminders in the Bundesliga.

Benjamin Hübner  FC Ingolstadt opened the scoring against Werder and contributed 8 aerials won with 9 clearances and 3 intercepetions in a monster performance for Die Schanzer. The 26-year-old center back sure picked a great time to get his first career Bundesliga goal.

Erik Durm was deservedly voted man of the match for Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen, with a Whoscored Rating of 8.56. The versatile left back, who started out as a striker for Mainz’s reserver team also had the vital assist for Auba’s goal with  6 interceptions and 6 clearances in a superb outing for BvB.
Niklas Süle – Hoffenheim had 4 clearances, 3 blocked shots in their 3-2 win over Mainz. He also led his team with 69 touches and 89.7% passing accuracy. The 20-year-old is showing why along with Jonathan Tah of Leverkusen (an honorable mention) he is the future of Germany’s central defenders, as evidenced by their U-21 partnership.

Rafinha – Fc Bayern had himself a ballgame versus Darmstadt with 97.4% passing accuracy on 123 touches, 113 of those being passes and an assist. It often looked like training for the Brazilian right back:

Bayern are so deep at every position, that Bundesliga veteran Rafinha is basically a back-up to Philipp Lahm…..
Arturo VidalBayern  did just about everything against Darmstadt with 157 touches, 140 passes at 93% accuracy. The Chilean also had 10 aerials won,  plus 5 tackles in defense, and 3 shots, 4 key passes as Bayern had 36 shots, with 13 on target against poor SV98, who probably regret ever taking the lead. Those numbers are just staggering!
Arjen Robben – Bayern was another culprit, as the Flying Dutchman had 10 shots, 4 on target with 3 key passes in a dominant performance that probably has Juventus defenders shaking in their boots.
Mahmoud Dahoud – Gladbach continues to shine ever so bright with 3 key passes on 91% pass acc. and 7 tackles against Cologne FC, a game that his goal won in the 9th minute. It’s no wonder, that the Syrian born midfielder has gone from a 600k academy player to one of the hottest prospect in European football and to the top of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City wishlist.

Salomon KalouHertha BSC his 11th goal of the season would probably be enough to earn a spot, but the Ivorian played a great all around game with 3 shots, 2 on target and 3 interceptions with 2 key passes. It’s also worth mentioning, that those 11 goals have come on just 39 shots (basically under 2 per game) for a remarkable 28% conversion rate that will be very difficult to keep up, as Hertha are winless in 5 games in a row. At any rate, nder Pál Dárdai, Kalou has been nothing short of a revelation this season and deserves a spot here.

Thomas Müller – Bayern had two more goals to bring his tally to 17 on the season. While the first was a gritty finish worthy of Gerd Müller, the second (thanks to a great ball by Arturo Vidal) was sheer class:

There is a reason that despite a hefty price tag of 70 million, Bayern are not letting this self-described Raumdeuter (space investigator) go anywhere.
Mark Uth – Hoffenheim scored his 2nd and 3rd goal for a team that averages 1 goal per game and thus merits a spot, despite 2 of the easier finishes a striker can ask for.

Honorable mentions
Jonathan Tah – locked up Aubameyang after Lewandowski. Jairo Samperio’s wonder goal and assist for Mainz sadly were not enough. Granit Xhaka – 8 aerials, 2 shots and a game high 92 touches 79 passes for the Foals. Roger dominated the middle of the park for FC Ingolstadt with 7 clearances, 4 interceptions and 6 aerials. Special shoutout to Hoffenheim’s midfield for an inspired performance and some great passing.

As always, let us know if we missed someone.

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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