Matchday 5 Review and Team of the Week

The 27 goals over the Bundesliga’s matchday five were very evenly distributed as Dortmund’s 3-1 win over Freiburg was the match with the largest margin of victory. BVB were far from flawless – an early Vincenzo Grifo chance and some shoddy defending from Matthias Ginter made things interesting, but the attack powered by the 19-year-old superkids Emre Mor and Ousmane “nobody can stay in front of me” Dembele were too much in the end for a solid Freiburg side. Bayern were much less impressive (still winning the shots battle 17 to 7) and needed an 89th minute winner from Joshua Kimmich to overcome a HSV side that seemed to be fighting for head coach Bruno Labbadia’s job. In the end, it probably didn’t matter, as the club sacked him anyway on Sunday, which was met with optimism and speculation about replacements (Andre Villas Boas, Markus Gisdol, etc) by Hamburg fans. Cologne took on RB Leipzig in the last match of the weekend and a hard-fought affair with few chances ended in a 1-1 draw that probably pleased both sides. Cologne slip to third, but continue to be unbeaten, as do RBL, who are now seventh.

Gladbach did what they needed to do in a somewhat dull affair of a match that featured a total of 15 shots against Ingolstadt with a 2-0 win.

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The game was mostly about finishing off chances: Alfredo Morales was not able to put away a wonderful chipped ball by Pascal Groß, while Lars Stindl was able to finish a rebound from the edge of the box to put the Foals up 1-0. It was nice to finally see Mo Dahoud running the show in midfield, as his runs ended up in wonderful passes picking out one fullback who hit the post (Julian Korb), and another who put the game away in Oscar Wendt. Perhaps giving one of the bigger talents in the Bundesliga some more playing time would be an idea for Andre Schubert to consider, before Connor Garratt blasts him some more!

The match between two of the more surprising teams of the year in Eintracht and Hertha was anything but dull, as Hertha continued to give the middle finger to shot-fetishists and XG models, as they scored three goals on SIX shots! They are sporting a sub-Darmstadtian 7.6 shots / match average yet thanks to superb finishing by guys like Vedad Ibisevic (2 goals + assist in this one plus a pretty big error leading to a Frankfurt goal) and great play from Augsburg cast-off Alexander Esswein. It’s incredible how BSC manager Pál Dárdai gets so much out of rather mediocre players like Esswein (four goals and five assists in THREE SEASON at FCA)  who had a goal and an assist vs die Adler.

Frankfurt lost David Abraham in the 31st minute and the introduction of Michael Hector had a mixed outcome: the defense that allowed just 10 shots on target in the first four games conceded four against Hertha. The game saw several comebacks from 0-1 to 2-1 to 2-3, only for Hector to level things up with a 91st minute equalizer! eintr

Speaking of exciting games with late goals – Leverkusen know a thing about that, as Chicharito waited until the 92nd minute to finish his and see off Mainz! If you’re scoring at home that’s eight goals for die Werkself – four apiece for Hernandez and Pohjanpalo. That’s the somewhat good news, but on the other hand, the defense has been a mess: Die Werkself have allowed FIVE more shots on their goal and that brings their season average to FIVE per match – the most since the awful 2006/07 campaign where they were conceding over SEVEN per game. On a cursory glance, there are two key reasons for it: 1. the central defensive pairing of Omer Toprak and Jonathan Tah has been dismal, as Tah even fell out of the starting lineup for Aleksandr Dragovic. The Austrian promptly had to be subbed off after whiffing on a header inside his six that allowed Stefan Bell to score Mainz’s second, after LB Wendell’s howler led to de Blasis’ opener. Roger Schmidt was so unhappy with the 18 million Euro summer signing that he brought on Tah for him at the break. 2. the CDM position was supposed to be one of Bayer’s strengths, as Charles Aranguiz, Kevin Kampl, Julian Baumgartlinger and Lars Bender are all at least above average players. Yet, Aranguiz has struggled to stay fit and is averaging just 1.3 tackles versus getting dribbled past 1.8 times per game, while Lars Bender has taken some time to return to fitness after being away at the Olympics. Baumgartlinger has arguably looked the worst, as he has gone from the Bundesliga’s leading tackler last season at Mainz with 3.7 per game to a paltry 1.5 per match and is out of the rotation after just 147 minutes. Kampl has been the only mainstay, having played all 450 minutes with 2 tackles an 2.2 interceptions matching his career averages. Still, Roger Schmidt has those two issues to solve, not to mention Hakan Calhanoglu’s miserable play for the last year and a half, and the long layoff for Kimo Bellarabi. A visit from Dortmund next week could spell trouble, and Schmidt should be thankful to Pohjanpalo and Chicharito, as well as the disastrous starts of Werder, HSV and Schalke for keeping hiim out of the headlines.

Trouble is hardly enough to describe what has gone on at Schalke  this season, as the Royal Blues succumbed to their fifth straight defeat at Hoffenheim. In terms of  analytics, Schalke’s awfulness makes little sense. Their shots for and against are dead even at 12, which isn’t all that different from the 14.5 for/against of last year. Interestingly, enough they allow just 3 shots to hit their target – the fifth best mark in the league. That mark is much better than the FIVE they have averaged in each of the last three seasons! So the trouble isn’t really quantity, it’s the quality of shots and perhaps just a run of bad luck. Ironically, given their rivalry, Dortmund fans would perhaps be able to feel some empathy (well maybe not, given that it is after Schalke), as they went through a similar spell in last year’s Hinrunde, when Roman Bürki seemingly conceded every time a shot was fired at his target, despite it rarely happening. As Dustin Ward over at Statsbomb pointed out

“You could see in the summary above Dortmund allow the 2nd-closest average shot in the league. This has helped opponents get a higher % of shots on target against Dortmund than any other team in the league at 46%. That has added up to 23 goals allowed already. ”

The Bundesliga at the Break: Bayern and Dortmund

On Sunday Schalke demonstrated this perfectly, conceding twice on TWO shots – a free header for Andrej Kramaric just outside the six and a Lukas Rupp back post tap-in both finding (the back of) Ralf Fährmann’s net. It’s perhaps no surprise that poor Fährmann also has the worst save percentage at 33%.

The arguably bigger problem for the Royal Blues and Markus Weinzierl has been on the other side of the ball. While anyone can see the painfully obvious TWO GOALS scored number, there are some interesting underlying metrics: Despite having taken a decent 21 shots on goal – a mark just two behind Gladbach and Eintracht, Schalke are converting just 5.6%, while BMG are at a scorching 31.6%, mostly thanks to an insane 72% of their total shots hitting the target. While, Schalke don’t possess the clinical precision of the Foal’s attack, if they just got to the league average mark of 16.3% that Frankfurt  or Freiburg are working with, Schalke would have close to 6-8 goals. For further comparison, a quick look at the last few years of conversion rates has Schalke never getting lower than 14.5% with  The XG model of Michael Caley has them at a combined FIVE expected goals, while they are stuck on two. Sure, they could stand to take more than twelve shots per match, but there are teams like Hertha who get so much out of so few shots – currently below eight per match. The pressure on Markus Weinzier, former Augsburg coach, is growing….

The aforementioned Augsburg were thoroughly impressive – or Darmstadt were thoroughly awful, in this 1-0 win that really wasn’t close at all. Dirk Schuster, who was voted coach of the year last season by the DFB, pulled a heck of a revenge game on his old team, though Leon Guwara’s two yellows in the last five minutes of the first half made things very difficult for Darmstadt. The Lilies have now received two reds on the season, after getting just one all of last year alongside 86 yellows (second only to Frankfurt), despite playing arguably the dirtiest football in the league. But, let’s stay with the positives and give more credit to Schuster, who also lost Dominik Kohr (along with Caiuby) for an extended period of time after the Jose Rodriguez horror foul last weekend. It’s not always pretty, but making a midfield double pivot work with 32-year-old Daniel Baier and 29-year-old Gojko Kacar (not exactly Toni Kroos and Luka Modric) is impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that Konstantinos Stafylidis has suddenly turned into Roberto Carlos and Martin Hinteregger actually looks competent.

Competent is not an adjective that has been used to describe Werder Bremen lately, but under interim coach Alexander Nouri, the Green and Whites have played two solid games. They finally came away with all three points this time – winning in the last five minutes of the match, after doing the opposite last weekend versus Mainz – at the expense of Dieter Hecking’s Wolfsburg who are now winless in four straight games. That’s what I get for praising Wolfsburg….Perhaps Dieter Hecking should really look into getting a website, because Nouri’s is spectacular.

After that quite extensive wrap-up, let’s find out who made our Bundesliga MD 5 TEAM OF THE WEEK!


 1. Rene Adler – HSV

This was a fairly easy choice, even in a loss, as Adler made seven saves and kept his team in the game versus a late Bayern onslaught. Roman Bürki was probably the closes, making a couple of key saves that had probably more to do with Freiburg’s finishing issues. Overall, it’s safe to say that this matchday was hardly about goalkeepers.


2. Konstantinos Stafylidis – Augsburg has arguably been the best left back in the Bundesliga over the first five weeks, and should rightfully be incensed for this being his first selection. The 22-year-old Greek left back is a long-range gunner at heart, and he has already scored two goals on eleven shots this season, ten of which have come from outside of the box. On a sidenote, we’re gonna cut to Wolfsburg fans crying when they see that the scoreless Mario Gomez also has taken the same number of shots, and TEN of his came from inside the box!!! Stafylidis, a product of the PAOK Saloniki youth system, who has come to Augsburg via Fulham and Leverkusen has established himself as the starter over German Olympic team member Philipp Max. While that might make former Gladbach and Schalke striker Martin Max (Philipp’s father) very angry, Stafylidis has been massive: the Greek has doubled his interceptions and is at 4.8 per match or 24 total – a figure that is second in the league to his teammate Daniel Baier with 25. The match versus Darmstadt was a perfect example: four successful tackles, six interceptions and four clearances!


3. Nico Elvedi – Gladbach did even better in the interception department, putting up eight versus Ingolstadt. The 19-year-old also added four clearances, and three fouls drawn, but more importantly he foiled a number of attacks on Ingolstadt’s right side.


That’s the side that has Pascal Groß and Tobias Levels, who accounted for the two most common pass combinations for FCI with 18 an 12 respectively. The result, thanks to Elvedi picking off eight passes was less than pleasing to Markus Kauczinski. bmgints

4. Theodor Gebre Selassie – Werder Bremen got the game-winning goal in extra time for his side against Wolfsburg, but his level of activity was quite high before that as well. The Czech right back was getting forward quite often but should also be commended for dealing with Julian Draxler, who was held without a key pass and just to three shots.


5. Joshua Kimmich – Bayern leads this group with another monster game vs HSV. His five shots were tied for the Matchday lead with Aubameyang, and his late winner was the difference in the game. Besides earning four fouls and leading his team with four tackles, the 21-year-old added 103 touches, and was his team’s leading passer with 86 – completing 70 of them. With Arturo Vidal and Thiago being fixtures in the Bayern midfield, Kimmich should be the third midfielder, way ahead of Renato Sanches and in my opinion also ahead of the aging Xabi Alonso.

6. Ousmane Dembele – Dortmund his opponent on the day Alexnadar Ignjovski ended up going 7 of 10 on succesful versus attempted tackles, but those stats are incredibly misleading. The Freiburg RB, who played well for the most part,  was overpowered by the Frenchman’s speed, dexterity and power, as Dembele finished the game with 7 successful take-ons out of 14. The 19-year-old now leads the  Bundesliga in dribble attempts with 36 and he has succeeded 21 times – also a league best. For comparison, Dembele’s seven dribbles per match are on pace to obliterate the last few years when Kingsley Coman (3.7 in 2015/16), Kimo Bellarabi (4.7 in 14/15) and Franck Ribery (5.5 in 13/14). demb

Did I mention that he also added three shots, two key passes and earned five fouls and of course had the brilliant assist to Aubameyang? Imagine if and when he improves his forward passing, combinations with his teammates, his decision-making and crossing, all of which are probably average at best….

7. Marco Fabian – Frankfurt – the Mexican really could’ve made the TOTW twice already, but finally gets into the lineup this week with a goal and some impressive play: three shots and three key passes probably undersell his importance as the creative hub of Frankfurt. He completed two take-ons, mostly because he would get fouled, five times! You can see how important he is to die Adler’s attack just by look at the passing maps courtesy of Sander aka 11tegen11.


8. Christoph Kramer – Gladbach has not really enjoyed the greatest of seasons so far, but put in a great shift versus Ingolstadt. Kramer, who had the dubious honor of leading the league in being dribbled past with ten, only added one to his tally alongside six successful tackles – for comparison he had just 11 successful tackles in four games before this. Matching the intensity of FCI was a requirement and the World Cup winner was up to the task with six aerials won and five interceptions. It appears that the injury to Tobias Strobl might have been a blessing in disguise for the Foals, as Andre Schubert finally has to play Mo Dahoud alongside Kramer, who no longer has to play a box to box role with the 20-year-old buzzing up and down the pitch and covering 12.6 kms. modah


Forwards –

9. Vedad Ibisevic – Hertha – two goals, two key passes and an assist is surely enough, even despite an unlucky clearance that gifted Alex Meier a goal. And it’s not like Sebastian Langkamp and Niklas Stark covered themselves in glory on crosses/corners either. The good news is that John Anthony Brooks is back at practice after missing the last couple games. The 32-year-old Ibisevic meanwhile scored his 95th career goal, and given that it will be his 234th league game next week against Hamburg, the century mark is almost a certainty before the winter break. The Bosnian is carrying this team as a captain should.

10. Chicharito -Leverkusen also knows a thing or two about carrying his team after last season’s Hinrunde. The Mexican has taken a while to get the goalscoring started, as a hand injury caused him to miss a couple of games and he even missed a penalty earlier. On Saturday however, Mainz  enjoyed the wrath of the Little Pea, whose hat trick was the difference between two sides struggling on defense. Four shots, three goals and a shot that hit the post is a fantastic game, but Chicharito also added a whopping four key passes in man of the match performance. These kind of performances will come in handy for Bayer for the Dortmund match next week.

11. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Dortmund will have something to say about that, as  the Gabonese added another goal to his league-high five this season. He really deserved another after a great ball from Matthias Ginter saw him put on the afterburners, but his delightful chip bounced inches wide of the Freiburg goal. Nevertheless, Auba ended the night with five shots and three key passes with a performance that should put the fear of God into the Real Madrid defense.

Honorable mentions go out to David Alaba, Emir Spahic, Douglas Santos, Serge Gnabry – three shots, five key passes, Kerim Demirbay – seven interceptions, Thiago and Alexander Esswein – who would’ve made it had he played more. As always tell us what you think of the selections in the comments section.

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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 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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