November 18, 2017

Bundesliga MD 13 TOTW – rejoice Bayern and Dortmund fans!

Instead of the usual long rambling section that you may or may not like, we’ll just jump right into Matchday 13’s team of the week. http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=d4g8

Honorable mentions first:

The left backs!

Konstantinos Stafylidis kicks things off with a great showing vs Frankfurt, and while his characteristic hard nosed tackling and long range shooting are now mainstays for FCA, 79%passing is quite better than his 73%. I wonder how much better he could be if he actually just learned to cross and\or avoided them all together – another 0 for 5 performance  makes him FOUR for 36 on the year!! By the way, it’s probably not a great sign for Bayern fans that Douglas “anklebreaker” Costa is 4 for 32 as well! http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=d4g8screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-11-47-pm

As Dustin Ward pointed out in his Statsbomb piece that is 

Yannick Gerhardt is next and despite just 51% passing it was his almost two assists that made the Hertha match probably his best performance for Wolfsburg. I called him out over getting a national team call-up and he responded with a couple of strong games.  In that same game, Hertha’s Marvin Plattenhardt racked up 104 touches, three shots (or one third of his season total of NINE!!), a great free kick goal, and 86% passing. It was a bizarre game, where Hertha, the worst away team by expected goal difference (negative 6.89!!) conceded twice in the first 18 minutes and then went on to outshoot VfL 13 to 3 and win the game on a last minute penalty given away by Daniel Caligiuri that Salomon Kalou converted.

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Granted most of those shots were from not quite ideal locations, but Alexander Esswein and Plattenhardt both hammered them in from low percentage shots, coz who really needs Vedad Ibisevic? Even the imperturbable Michael Caley was perturbed!

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Markus Suttner was the third left back who put in an exceptional shift and really could’ve made it back to back TOTM spots for Ingolstadt’s Christian Fuchs.  No word whether a mid-table EPL team or an NFL team in need of a PAT expert will sign him in the near future….Regardless it was the familiar duo of Pascal Gross and Suttner who ran the show, as FCI put up 15 shots on a impressive 78% team pass completion, close to ten points higher than their usual 69%, which is ahead of Mainz and Darmstadt only. Suttner, who has spent all of his career at Austria Wien until his transfer to FCI ahead of last season is now up to 1.3 key passes for the season, which puts him in some great company. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-25-33-pm

Die Schanzer’s opponents Werder Bremen also send three guys to the honorable mentions names, as Max Kruse (first goal of the season, and what a delightful touch!), Claudio Pizarro (still knows how to crash the box) and Serge Gnabry (three key passes, two shots, blocks, tackles and clearances each!) all shone in a rare win for the Green and Whites. Their defense even managed to look occasionally competent, and if they can get everyone healthy and figure out what’s up with Junuzovic and their goalies, they could surprise some teams with the amount of attacking talent they possess.

Last but not least, a few quick hitters: Jeremy Toljan, goal, assist and 96% passing for TSG (but two or three defensive lapses that Marcel Risse and Yuya Osako failed to punish as well), Gonzalo Castro had 149 touches vs Gladbach, Hakan “I’m on a comeback tour” Calhanoglu scored a great goal and collected four shots and three key passes, while his teammate Joel Pohjanpalo, a 55th minute sub, got FIVE shots on FOURTEEN touches! That’s a shot every ten minutes, making him the Bundesliga’s version of Monta Ellis!

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At the other end of the spectrum, Christoph Kramer takes a shot every 1026 minutes, as he has attempted ONE shot in 1026 minutes, one from inside six vs Frankfurt, as Alex Rathke‘s data tells us. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-39-24-pm

Sorry, I wasn’t able to watch HSV against Darmstadt and thus am omitting Matthias Ostrzolek and Michael Gregoritsch. And I wrote that with a straight face! 😛

Also, my deepest apologies to Philipp Lahm, whom I’ve forgotten and it’s too late to change now, but this tweet of ours should do the trick!

On to the best XI of Matchday 13!

GoalkeeperAlexander Schwolow of SC Freiburg had a crazy game for his team, as he bamboozled Leverkusen with five huge saves. It was about time, as he was the worst starting GK in the league, per Whoscored.com.

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Bayer put up 2.9 expected goals on some superb shot locations, but Schwolow would just keep them out, including a terrible Chicharito penalty, the fourth one that B04 missed this year! screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-44-18-pm

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Defenders

That’s not to say that Leverkusen didn’t have any defending to do, as Freiburg were also occasionally dangerous. A lot of the 0.6 XGs – Freiburg’s lowest output so for – can be ascribed to the play Aleksandar Dragovic. The 25-year-old was put up a Moses Malone like FO’FO’FO – 4\4\4 tackles\interceptions and clearances and was almost  flawless defensively. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-52-44-pm

Yet, he was even better on offense, racking up 127 touches and completing 94 of 107 passes. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-53-21-pm

After a terrible EUROs where both he and his Austrian national team disappointed, many questioned Bayer spending 18 million on Dragovic, and they were right so far, as he has played just 412 minutes on the year, but with performances like this one, there’s hope that the eventual departure of Omer Toprak (to BVB in the winter) will be easier to bear with Drago complementing the exceptionally talented Jonathan Tah.

Mats Hummels quietly had a brilliant game for Bayern, though the former BVB man will probably be overlooked, as Robben, Lahm, Lewandowski, Muller and even Thiago steal the spotlight. That would be a shame since Hummels posted 91 touches and 91% passing, with eight aerials and seven tackles won, as he often made up for the space left by David Alaba’s rampaging runs and Javi Martinez ineptitude.

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Though perhaps, he isn’t the most-beloved Bayern defender, but Hummels sure has been the most consistent one this year.

Benjamin Hubner has that same title locked down for Hoffenheim.  His stellar defense and importance to the team is well-known among Bundesliga aficionados, and he showed that by making three tackles, four interceptions and four clearances and holding the beast that is Anthony Modeste to one shot all game! That was despite Cologne getting a lot of pretty decent chances (Vogt, Toljan 2x all looked shaky, but Hubner was never troubled!) after the Sandro Wagner opener, that was preceded by Hubner’s header hitting the crossbar. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-11-45-pm

His run that took three Cologne defenders with him and left Sandro Wagner wide open for the third goal won’t show up in the box score, but it highlights his importance on set pieces as an attacker, as that play and the first goal showed. Speaking of attacking, the former Ingolstadt CB also got involved with 103 passes and 87% accuracy which is massive, when you consider that last year he averaged 65% on 23 passes per game for FCI. The scout who spotted him and got him for 800k should get scout of the year….

Midfielders

Fin Bartels nearly made it last week, but nothing could keep him out, as the 29-year-old scored the game winning goal, after assisting Max Kruse’s first of the season. In addition, the Werder Bremen midfielder accumulated three key passes and dribbles each, but wasn’t afraid to get stuck in on defense, with four tackles and interceptions each. Back to back strong performances should cement his place in the starting lineup, which was rightfully in jeopardy after a rough start to the season.

Emil Forsberg gets his customary spot for RB Leipzig, despite not getting on the scoresheet against Schalke. The Swede more or less should get credit for the Kolasinac own goal and he was also credited with five key passes (though mostly from set pieces). Though he is rightfully praised for his five goals and seven assists this year, his remarkable connection with Timo Werner should be applauded, as well as his pressing: check out all the balls he recovered:screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-23-57-pm

My deepest apologies to Naby Keita who had another wonderful game, and is probably my pick for the best Bundesliga player right now….

If you are the type of Bundesliga fan who only cares about Dortmund and Bayern, you’ll enjoy the rest of this piece, as we only have current BVB and FCB players (and one former Bayern man!).

Marco Reus is probably the easiest pick for this week, as the Dortmund savior announced his Bundesliga return with three ridiculous assists against poor Gladbach. That’s a hat-trick of assists after an actual hat-trick versus Legia in the UCL last month. He was also massive in pressing

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and had four key passes, four dribbles, but if you don’t care for stats and\or missed the game you can just pretend Reus was Rick James and Gladbach the couch.

If Reus was Rick James, Ousmane Dembele was Dortmund’s Reggie “Gutterballs” Bryant. http://www.comedycentral.co.uk/chappelles-show/videos/and1-mixtape-uncensored

WAIT TILL YOU SEE HIM PLAY DEFENSE!

Seriously, Dembele completed six dribbles, one of them destroying the life of poor Mo Dahoud and ending in a great goal. Sure BMG are struggling, but how many 19-year-olds can do this?

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He is up to 80 dribbles in 784 minutes, a mark that beats Julian Brandt by four, but the Frenchman laps the field in terms of successful dribbles with 46, as no one else has more than 32. screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-44-14-pm

These kind of games might be routine for Dembouz soon!

Arjen Robben rounds out the list of midfielders for Bayern with what used to be a routine game for the Dutchman: a goal and an assist on four shots, with glorious interplay with the rejuvenated Thomas Muller (thank Carlo for 4-2-3-1!), with whom he combined FIFTEEN times!screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-49-07-pm

As 11tegen11‘s pass map confirms, that’s a very THICK line between those two, and look how far Robben is up the pitch!

Robben attempted 35 passes, and found Muller numerous times, which has long been a staple of Bayern’s success in recent years, as those are often important deep passes, as Dustin Ward noted in his season preview.

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That was last year, and as per Alex Rathke’s research we can see that Robben has rarely found Muller or anyone for that matter in 2016\17. A quick glance at the respective fixtures of the two and Carlo’s admiration for the 4-3-3 reveals a staggering blunder: Muller and Robben have not started a game together until MD 13!!! I understand the injuries to Robben and Muller’s poor form, but that’s like the Warriors not playing Steph Curry and Kevin Durant together….

Forwards

Former Bayern and current Hoffenheim player Sandro Wagner is a really good Bundesliga striker. It was kind of fashionable among Bundesliga hipster to make fun of the gangly poacher, (myself included), but at 29, Wagner, has now scored 21 of his 28 career goals in the last 18 months! He is no longer just an aerial threat (down from 7.3 headers won to 3.8 this year) he is averaging nearly 0.8 dribbles per game! Oh and he can still overpower defenders, just ask Effzeh’s back four!

His partner is BVB’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who apparently took offense to my exclusion of him from the best XI so far by scoring eight goals in his last four Bundesliga matches. The Gabonese added another two vs Gladbach, though he owes both of them to his TOTW partners Reuse and Dembele. To say he is exceeding the XG models is an understatement, he was doubling its output prior to this match!

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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

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