Goalkeeper – Freiburg’s Alexander Schwolow must be reading these as motivation, because it’s back to back appearances for the guy who was ranked as the worst goalie in the league by Squawka just two weeks ago.
With five saves and a shutout against Darmstadt – putting on a show in the first half – it’s another notch in his belt and Schwolow is moving up in the goalie rankings. Honorable mentions to Oliver Baumann, Jaroslav Drobny and Rune Jarstein
Defenders – the (nearly) all Ingolstadt editon
Benjamin Hübner is a fixture on this list every week and his performance against Eintracht was phenomenal again. He had a couple of tackles and four tackles, but what stands out is the 13 clearances, including eight aerials won. The Bundesliga website probably counts clearances as tackles won, but either way Benni definitely had something to show his father – Eintracht sporting director Bruno.
Holy penalty box action, Batman! – Green = success!
He also went 50 of 56 on his passes and together with the stellar Kevin Vogt was part of the most popular passing combo (24 times) for TSG. It’s probably not a great sign for Nagelsmann’s offense that these were the most common passes:
and that Süle had two of the team’s three shots…
Stealing him from Ingolstadt for 800k was a great move by TSG sporting director Alexander Rosen and Martin Siegbert as we wrote back in August.
Ingolstadt replaced Hübner at the cost of 3 million Euros with Marcel Tisserand and the former Monaco youth product has not had the greatest of seasons so far. Squawka has him in the bottom ten of defenders
and Kicker has graded him at 3.54 for the year. He is also in the bottom ten over at Whoscored, but on Saturday he was marvelous defensively. Entering the match he collected 16 interceptions in eleven matches (missing a few fixtures), but vs. Leipzig he made EIGHT successful INTs, including six in the first half!
He and fellow CB Marvin Matip combined with goalscorer and makeshift third central defender Roger to hold Yussuf Poulsen and Timo Werner to one shot, two aerials won and 31 passes on 53 combined touches, well below their combined averages of four shots, five aerials won and 42 passes.
Robert Bauer has quickly shrugged off last week’s terrible game and came up huge for Werder Bremen with four tackles and eight interceptions in a shocking win at Hertha. Bauer of course made the switch from Die Schanzer to the Green and Whites and has also been one of the worst defenders in the league. He was deployed at right back for just the third time this year – Theo GebreSelassie being ranked below him by Kicker might have had something to do with it – and for one game at least it worked.
You can see his activity from the heatmap above, but his offensive impact was surprising: he attempted a ton of long balls and found Claudio Pizarro ten times!
Bauer isn’t lighting the world on fire, but Werder will take anything that does not involve the words defense and dumpster fire in the same sentence. Yay for low expectations!
Andreas Christensen – has been perhaps the best Gladbach player this season, and he might need to score more goals in the future, given his team’s offensive ineptitude and Schubert’s ideas on “offense”. Statistically, he leads his team with 91% passing, is third in tackles with 2.7, and also third in clearances with 2.7 and has the fewest fouls at 0.5 per game. In the 1-0 win against Mainz, the Dane also made six tackles and was his team’s main passing hub, as confirmed by 11tegen11:
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) December 11, 2016
Can’t wait until Schubert pulls the Gerard Pique and plays him at center forward!
Midfielders – Only Bayern this weekend
Thiago has the best Bayern player this season award going for him and he was magisterial against Wolfsburg. Four tackles, nine interceptions, 96 passes on 113 touches and 91% pass accuracy, including eleven for eleven on long balls – these numbers are mind-blowing!
Bayern were so ridiculously dominant against Wolfsburg, that Thiago’s 91% pass completion rate was SIXTH on his own team….
Arjen Robben – wasn’t one of the guys ahead him in the pass completion department, the Dutchman focused his efforts in front of goal. With fives shots, three key passes and a vintage goal, poor VfL and the rest of the Bundesliga were once again reminded just how dominant he can be on his day. It probably helps that he was practically camped out in Wolfsburg’s third, as 32 of his 44 pass attempts came from there.
He is quietly up to five goals for the year and is only behind Lewandowski, Modeste and Aubameyang in the goals per 90 category among players with at least 500 minutes played with 0.8 per 90!
Thomas Müller is definitely over the moon about Robben’s return to Bayern, as the Germany international played an excellent game against Mainz last week and finally broke his goalless streak this weekend vs Wolfsburg! He was everywhere on the pitch, as evidenced by 12.2 kms covered and 65 runs made. How often do you see a guy end up in the top five in those categories in a 5-0 thrashing?
It’s almost like playing him and Robben is a decent idea, as some guy suggested on a podcast…
Artjoms Rudnevs is perhaps a surprise inclusion here, but the Latvian was the hero for Cologne, who were a late Marco Reus equalizer away from keeping all three points. Aside from embarrassing Sokratis and co with his body feints and speed, the former Zalaegerszeg striker scored his side’s only goal. Plus it’s fun to have a guy with an awful looking dashboard and 25 touches dominate a game in what is starting to look like the Bizarro Team of the Week!
Robert Lewandowski has not been included too often, but with two more goals is now up to eleven on the season, yet somehow nobody is talking about him. The Pole is still leading the league in shot volume at 4.2 per game and is the best with 3.2 penalty area shots. If anything he is probably undershooting his numbers, as Alex Rathke’s expected goals had him at 7.4 XG versus six actual goals after eleven matches.
When you allow him to shoot four times from inside the box, as Wolfsburg did, those numbers are only gonna go one way and it’s not the same way the VfL are moving up the table….
Max Kruse rounds things out for Werder Bremen, as the veteran returns to the team of the week. Racking up four shots, three key passes, two INTs and the only goal in the win in Berlin is definitely enough to earn a spot in a rather weak field for strikers. Granted, when the matchday has just eleven goals and Bayern score five of them, it’s pretty much slim pickings. He is starting to develop some nice chemistry with Bartels and Gnabry and is doing his trademark layoffs and getting involved on the wings.
Honorable mentions go out to
Hakan Calhanoglu – 102 touches, assist and two key passes in an ugly win for Leverkusen.
Willy Orban, Tony Jantschke and Nico Elvedi all had good to great games, but it’s all about Ingolstadt!
Thilo Kehrer – one crucial mistake away from a flawless debut with four clearances and tackles and nine interceptions! and Leon Goretzka – seven interceptions and three key passes and fouls drawn – would’ve made it had Schalke gotten a point.
Mario Vrancic, Aytac Sulu, Caglar Söyüncü and Jonas Hector were solid under the radar choices.
Marco Reus and Franck Ribéry just missed out as well.
Finally, the immortal Johan Djourou had 12 clearances and four tackles, but I did want to keep an ounce of credibility and not go totally overboard….
Thanks for reading!
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