Schalke, Hoffenheim and Augsburg carry our MD 19 Team of the Week

There was little hospitality on Matchday 19 of the Bundesliga (and we’re not talking about the despicable behavior of some BVB supporters vs RB Leipzig fans) as home teams won eight of the nine matches with Bayern Munich (!!!!) somehow being the exception. There were three comfortable wins ( in order: Hoffenheim demolished Mainz, Eintracht handled Darmstadt in the Hessenderby while Gladbach scored three after the 70th minute as the Stindl, Dahoud, Raffael trio started to round into form) but there really should have been four, if Marco Reus hadn’t decided to morph into Haris Seferovic and miss four sitters. I mean look at this:

It would have been cruel and unusual punishment if a Leipzig squad missing four regular starters had managed to avoid the offside call in the 93rd minute and get the equalizer. Instead it ended 1-0.

The other three victories by a lone goal belonged to Hertha, who took a first minute goal by Haraguchi – though the work of Salomon Kalou and Roger’s error deserve a shoutout – all the way to the bank, as FCI continued to not get a result in a match where they took more shots (13 to eight) and hit the target more often (four to two) than their opponent. You could perhaps feel things starting to go right for HSV, as Leverkusen loanee Kyriakos Papadopoulos (MIT DER NUMMER NEUN!!!) headed in the winner from a set piece (eight of nine HSV shots inside the box came via set pieces!!) against his old club! Of course that came on top of Chicharito’s injury and Calhanoglu’s suspension. Did I mention that Kimo Bellarabi came off with what looked like an injury and that Jonathan Tah tore a muscle and will be out for the foreseeable future? The Bayer subreddit is like the night in Game of Thrones, “dark and full of terrors” and Roger Schmidt’s future is bleak. But hey, at least the club’s Twitter account overdosed on Super Bowl gifs….

There was very little between Cologne and Wolfsburg – lots of shots from outside the box (fourteen combined if you are counting) and just four on target, though I don’t know if Kocka Rausch almost scoring from a corner was counted among them. After two solid half-chances for VfL – Kessler saving Arnold’s rocket and the defense blocking Gerhardt on the two yard line,  the difference was Anthony Modeste’s penalty in the 82nd minute which gave Effzeh another surprising three points and conversely cost VfL some much-needed ones yet again.

Having recapped the weekend, let’s find out which players made it into MD 19’s Team of the Week

Our coach is of course Julian Nagelsmann, who was able to get two goals out of none other than Ádám Szalai:


Goalkeeper – Yann Sommer – four saves were enough for the Gladbach netminder to earn the honors, as only Rune Jarstein equalled his number of stops, but the Foals goalie had arguably the tougher job. You can see how the Swiss GK faced four shots on target with three of them coming from inside the box, compared to just one for the Norwegian.



Marc Bartra of Dortmund has certainly gotten his fair share of criticism from me for his horrid defensive displays since November, but the former Barcelona man was almost flawless against Leipzig. Sure, facing Davie Selke (39 touches, no shots, key passes and dispossessed five times) is easier than the monster that is Timo Werner, but Bartra and Sokratis played a major part in keeping Leipzig to just two total shots!!! The 26-year-old led his team with 93 touches and 75 pass attempts, but his completion rate was at only 75% mostly due to going 7 for 13 on his forward passes. What’s more impressive is that Bartra won five aerials out of seven attempts and was very active in recovering the ball.


Kyriakos Papadopoulos knows a thing or too about duels: the former Leverkusen man of course scored the game-winner for his HSV team against his old squad on Friday, but he did so much more:

Thanks to Instat, we know that the Hamburg CB won 22 of 28 duels including 13 of 15 in the air and finished with a defensive dashboard that would make Stan Van Gundy cry.

We’ll forego the discussion whether it was a great idea to lump long balls into the box versus him and Mergim Mavraj (averaging 3.4 aerials won per game) for Kevin Volland, though Roger Schmidt at least introduced Stefan Kießling for the second 45 minutes (albeit thereby creating a gaping hole in the center of midfield) which resulted in die Werkself only chance via a set piece that ended on the post. While speedy guys like PG Ntep will always give Papa and Mavraj trouble, and they are combining to pass at 59 and 65% respectively on 30 pass attempts (the same as Djourou) their dominance in the air and the relatively mistake free play is a definite improvement over the Djourou\Cleber\Spahic sad-face CB trio.

Naldo was arguably one of the best players for Schalke in a huge 1-1 draw at the Allianz Arena.


Numerically speaking, the veteran went 8 of 10 in duels and 5 of 6 on tackles. Combining that kind of defensive performance with the tying set piece goal that beat Manuel Neuer from way outside the box equals an automatic TOTW spot.

Joining him will be his teammate and best player on the pitch in Sead Kolasinac who posted a stupid defensive line versus none other than Arjen Robben: 20 of 26 on duels, 9 of 10 on tackles eight interceptions and ten balls recovered.


In addition, the Juventus target also had enough energy to churn forward with five attempted dribbles and set up Guido Burgstaller for what would’ve been the game-winner had it been a few inches under the bar.

Apologies go out to Jesus Vallejo, Niklas Süle, Benjamin Hübner, Pawel Olkowski, Kocka Rausch and Pavel Kaderabek.


Hoffenheim’s Kerem Demirbay appears yet again. Five shots five tackles, three key passes are just about becoming routine for the youngster, whose team ran over Mainz, though Benni Hübner did need to make two last man tackles and Oliver Baumann also made a few good stops to keep the 05ers from getting to four goals again. Two pics tell a more complete story: the 23-year-old was always available for a pass in the center

and usually picked the right option. (this does not include a superb 11 of 13 on attacking third passes)

Did we mention that he succeeded on five of eight dribbles per Instat and also was rated as the best CAM of the matchday?


Ante Rebic of Eintracht also took home some of those honors, leading the matchday with shot attempts (5) and shots on target (4). He was at times too much with his pace and dribbling for SV 98 and the Instat numbers confirm this:


It’s probably not a great sign for Darmstadt (then again are there any great signs for the Lilies?) that Rebic attempted 20 of his 30 passes in the attacking third. Then again, he practically lived in the Darmstadt half of the pitch with his averaging position putting some strikers to shame.

Another Sunday starlet was Augsburg’s Ja-Cheol Koo  whose great run and good strength to hold off Delaney for FCA’s second goal and his chip that sent Bobadilla in  were probably the keys to victory.  The Korean way outperformed his 2.3 average aerials duels won by winning 7 of his 12 on Sunday and while he won 9 of 20 offensive duels overall, he made the most of his few opportunities by creating two chances and finishing one.

Honorable mentions were: Benjamin Stambouli -8 interceptions 10 ball recoveries and 40/47 passes, while his teammate Nabil Bentaleb was also instrumental. Arturo Vidal was quite good for Bayern, while Christoph Kramer put in another strong outing for Gladbach, as did his teammate Thorgan Hazard, who led all players with six key passes.

Six was also the number of chances created by Nico Müller, who also  went 4/4 on set pieces and finished with five ball recoveries (he also put constant pressure on Leverkusen with his counterpressingÖ, but that 3/10 on take-ons and the set piece dependence was enough to keep him out.

Ousmane Dembele probably had the best sequence of the matchday (skinning Marvin Compper and Willi Orban in the process), but his 5 of 18 passing and defensive miscues keep him out.


Pierre Emerick Aubameyang was in a rare role as provider for Dortmund and if it weren’t for Marco Reus shanking four chances, the Gabonese would’ve had three or four assists. That number is significant, because Auba has never had more than six assists in a season for BVB and has just 37 for his career! 

The key passes are also significant, because he averages just above one a game, and it’s not like this came at the expense of his shooting (went two of five with shots on target) or his finishing (the game-winner). It’s probably not a trend, and Auba isn’t going to do this every game, but it’s kind of a shame that Marco Reus couldn’t finish a few of these at least.

Hoffenheim’s Mark Uth probably had the goal of his life against Mainz, and that was just the tip of the iceberg: seven shots, 20 of 23 on passes


and continuing to fly under Nagelsmann. The former Köln player who found his scoring boots at Heerenveen is now up to 14 goals in 27 games for Nagelsmann in just around 1850 minutes. Although that happened in chunks of two seasons and the 25-year-old is known to be an injury risk, prorating those numbers would yield 17.6 goals in 34 game season, which would be elite! In some ways, Uth is the perfect replacement for the recently out of form Andrej Kramaric, whose early season form seems like years away. Ironically, the two players have nearly inverse XG outputs: Uth has scored six goals on a little over two XGs (Alex Rathke has him at 1.92XG and 5 actual goals, prior to MD 19), while Kramaric has just three, but is probably over six now! Did we mention that Sandro Wagner (who was suspended) leads the team with ten goals and that the two reserve strikers – Szalai and Terrazino combined for three goals this weekend! #Nagelsmannstrikerproblems…

Augsburg’s Raul Bobadilla   lost the ball 11 times, but had two moments of utter brilliance – the flick to Schmid and the finish in the 93rd minute as he overpowered the Werder defense. The Paraguayan remains an immensely talented physical specimen, whose injuries and propensity to lose the ball have probably limited his ceiling – did you know that despite playing the Bundesliga since 2009 (with a few loan deals at Gladbach), he has playes just 10551 minutes and scored 38 goals? 18 career injuries probably had something to do with that, and it was certainly awesome to see him grab that emphatic winner, that’s of course if you aren’t a Werder fan.

P.S. Do football coaches in Paraguay teach forwards to actually hold on to the ball? Dario Lezcano leads the Bundesliga at being dispossessed – 42 times in total, while Bobadilla leads the per game numbers at 3.3 – he has not played enough with just 475 minutes.

Apologies to the one and only Szalai (19 minutes only) and the Gladbach guys.

As always, drop us a line if you have something to say!

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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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