We’ve hit the ten game mark in the Bundesliga, and evidently that means it’s time for another international break. Thanks to RB Leipzig winning its fifth game in a row and Hoffenheim taking a point from the Allianz Arena, we got FCB and RBL tied atop the league on 24 points. The times they are a….
Matchday Ten also brought some changes in the coaching department: a surprising away win in the fortress known as Schwarzwald-Stadion apparently earned a contract extension for Valerien Ismael at Wolfsburg (the pessimist would say they ran out of options as Andre Villas Boas, Marc Wilmots and Pál Dárdai all turned them down), who to his credit has managed to get two goals out of Mario Gomez in one game! Ingolstadt parted ways with “great guy” Markus Kauczinski, after the coach failed to get their first win at home against an injury-riddled Augsburg side. It was a typical game under the manager: FCI were not the worse side and probably deserved at least a point, but their boring tactics (Ingolstadt’s pressing identity has slowly been lost under Kauczinski) and individual mistakes (Levels red card) doomed them yet again.
Speaking of doom: Markus Gisdol is already the second coach in charge at HSV, but somehow der Dino look worse under him than with Bruno Labbadia. I appreciate their efforts to make my job easier when it comes to selecting the worst XI for the Hinrunde (back line spots have been sold to Cleber, Spahic and Djourou after their performances in the Broadway hit musical “gifts for Auba”), but Hamburg fans surely do not. Their next opponent will be the Hoffenheim team that earned a great result at Bayern over the weekend, with a little help from the finishing gods who have forsaken both Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels. Thus continued the goalless spell for 20 goal scorer Thomas Müller, but it wasn’t the only streak to extend itself: Lukas Hradecky is now at 418 consecutive minutes without conceding for Eintracht. Die Adler allow just 2.5 shots on target per game, the third best average behind Bayern and Leipzig, as evidenced by holding Cologne to just SIX shots and one on target! On the other hand, they took advantage of a little luck against Jonas Hector, who is among the league leaders in crosses blocked, as Timothy Chandler’s attempt took a fortunate deflection that allowed Mijat Gacinovic to head in the winner over Timo Horn.
Hertha continued their sneaky impressive campaign with a Salomon Kalou hat-trick powering die Alte Dame over a ragged-looking Gladbach side, where Christoph Kramer’s silly red card did not help matters. After that round-up, here are your performers for Matchday 10’s Team of the Week, and much like the games this weekend, defenders are optional. Hey, I’m sure you didn’t mind the 31 goals this week.
Goalkeeper – Marwin Hitz -FC Augsburg made five saves and two late goals were enough to take three points from Ingolstadt. While neither of these five saves were too difficult, Hitz did enough to take home this award on a matchday where there were only three clean sheets, with Frankfurt and Hertha keepers having little to do.
Mitchell Weiser – Hertha – how he didn’t make the DFB squad is a travesty, as Weiser has arguably been the best right (wing) back in the Bundesliga since last season. On Friday he grabbed two assists on EIGHT key passes, giving him 21 for the season. That mark puts him fourth behind two dead ball specialists in Grifo and Groß and in a tie with Leipzig’s Dominik Kaiser, while his 19 short key passes lead the Bundesliga. Come on Jogi, how can you pick Yannick Gerhardt over him???
Sebastian Rudy – Hoffenheim was the lynchpin of the Hoffenheim defense, playing in front of the back three against Bayern. He has been one of the more underrated players in the Bundesliga, and with performances like this it’s no surprise that he’s been involved with the national team: six tackles, five interceptions and this defensive map.
Alessandro Schöpf – Schalke gets in not because of his two goals, as the former Nürnberg man has been a key performer as the RWB in Markus Weinzierl’s 3-5-2 that is saving the season for the Royal Blues. His emergence along with Sead Kolasinac’s on the left-wing has given Schalke new life, and the team is winning games despite lacking strikers. We’ve gotten used to him leading the Bundesliga in distance covered,
but Schöpf broke out on offense with five shots and a brace. Three tackles and three interceptions and two dribbles were also team highs for the Austrian, who has now already played more minutes this season than last year, when he transferred during the winter break. Schalke are now unbeaten in five straight Bundesliga games.
Kerem Demirbay – Hoffenheim just keeps popping up in our XI much like the way he does in front of goal to score wonderful goals. In this game, his four dribbles stood out, but five tackles and three interceptions also show great defensive promise for the 23-year-old. The guy that HSV famously gave up on has now three goals, three man of the match awards and two assists. 79% passing with 2.1 shots per game + 2.3 key passes per game and 2.3 dribbles are top 10 numbers to boot, and it’s no surprise that the 23-year-old is the second highest rated player on Whoscored this year. Since his inclusion, TSG have won 5 of 7 matches and together with tough-tackling Sebastian Rudy and the lightning fast Nadiem Amiri, Julian Nagelsmann boasts one of the better midfield trios in the league.
Emil Forsberg – Leipzig goal and two assists on three shots plus five key passes is definitely enough to get a spot here. The Swede remains one of the more devastating players in the Bundesliga on a counter and has now racked up four goals and four assists – three to Timo Werner – in just 600 minutes. He is incredibly effective in the attacking third and
very active in the buildup as the passing map suggests:
Julian Brandt – Leverkusen has finally made it for the first time this year, after nailing down a weekly spot last spring. Five shots, two key passes plus a goal and an assist and five dribbles are excellent even if they came against Darmstadt. His 89 touches were a season high, though they pale in comparison to Hakan Calhanoglu’s 135, but it’s a nice sign for Roger Schmidt that both of his talented young midfielders had their best games of the season. Brandt gets the slight edge for more activity in the attacking third, where nearly two thirds of his passes took place:
Salomon Kalou – Hertha bagged a hat trick on three shots and 37 touches in just his second start this season. The Ivorian has had a turbulent summer with two deaths in the family before a back injury keeping him on the sidelines until the Cologne game. His return will certainly be a boost to Hertha’s odds of challenging for the Champions League spots, as my colleague Chris Brase pointed out, and not just because of his goalscoring: there were several great instances of Kalou relieving the pressure on the Hertha defense with great turns and first touches, as they broke Gladbach’s press time and time again.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang – Dortmund four goals, courtesy of the three stooges in Hamburg – Cleby, Djoury and Spahy – and he will never have an easier day at the office. Now tied with Modeste for the league lead at eleven. I mean look at the size of these dots!
Auba also led all Bundesliga players with 43 sprints, in case you thought it was all just tap-ins and celebrations….
Timo Werner – Leipzig had a statistically atrocious game with 55% passing and a bunch of duels lost. Yet, nobody is going to care after a first half that included two goals and an assist in a counterattacking masterclass.
Werner’s athleticism and shooting volume make up for his passing deficiencies and at 20, he looks to have found a home in Leipzig, after a couple of promising, but mistake-ridden seasons at VfB.
Mario Gomez – Wolfsburg is alive! Two goals and you know what that means:
Three shots on targets was perhaps the most promising number for Mario, who had been running massively under expectation, as the graph after 8 games shows.
3.7 expected goals but only ONE actual goal and great shot locations meant that Gomez was probably just going through a brutal dry spell with a few more than usual shots fired wide.
VfL fans sure could use some good news after Draxler has gone down for what looks like a long time, and Gomez will have to keep his scoring boots on with five of the next six fixtures against Schalke, Hertha, Bayern, Frankfurt and Gladbach still to come.
Naby Keita racked up six dribbles, four clearances and three interceptions in another great performance. John Anthony Brooks for Hertha was imperious against what little offense Gladbach offered. Willy Orban did very little wrong against Mainz. Ricardo Rodriguez did wonderfully well at CB, winning several tackles and setting up Mario Gomez with an assist before converting a penalty. Yannick Gerhardt, whom I flogged on Twitter for undeservingly getting called up, is worth mentioning for a combative performance crowned by perhaps the tackle of the season on the goal line. Vincenzo Grifo really needs to figure out the whole finishing thing, but should be commended for four shots and four key passes. Kevin Vogt cleared everything in sight against Bayern. Finally, Mats Hummels could have been the hero for his side with a great strike that hit the post in the dying moments vs Hoffenheim, Three shots, four aerials won with three interceptions and double-digit ball recoveries, close but no cigar.
Let us know what you think and enjoy the break!
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