March 23, 2017

Team of the Week – Match Day 1


The first match day of the new Bundesliga season is officially behind us and as always, it did not fail to deliver.  Already we have seen own goals, dramatic comebacks, big upsets and controversies.  Dortmund’s master class against Hamburg, Gladbach’s big upset over Bayern and Schalke’s collapse against Stuttgart are just some of the talking points following this weekend’s action.  Let us take a look at some of the better individual performers of Match-day 1.

Here is the Bundesliga Fanatic Team of the Week, a feature we hope to bring you following every match day throughout the season.





Ter Stegen outshone Manuel Neuer on the day.






Marc-Andre ter Stegen – The Gladbach keeper was imperious in his side’s unprecedented upset over Bayern München.  It was Gladbach’s first away win at Bayern in over 15 years and the first opening game Bayern lost since 2001.  Bayern threw everything but the kitchen sink at Gladbach and ter Stegen was equal to all of it.  Always confident with his ball handling and showing great control of his box, the 19 year old displayed a maturity beyond his years.  Ter Stegen just started his first full season with the senior side and is already touted as a candidate for the German National Team, that alone speaks volumes of his qualities.


Roel Brouwers – In front of ter Stegen is fellow Gladbach teammate Brouwers who was a big reason Bayern players left the pitch frustrated and wondering what could have been.  It was never going to be easy to play the league’s most potent attack, especially not on the road and certainly not as your opening game, making Brouwers and Gladbach’s defensive performance that much more impressive.  Brouwers had a hard task, being asked to fill in for the absent and influential Stranzl.  Despite that, the Dutch center back won 62% of his duals and did not give away a single foul in the barrage of Bayern attacks.

Mats Hummels – Firmly established as Germany’s premier defender, Hummels continued his fine form into the new season and put in a fantastic performance in his side’s memorable victory against Hamburg.  What sets Hummels apart is his ability to contribute to his team’s attacking game, evidenced by his 84% passing accuracy and numerous passes out of the back that kick started many of Dortmund’s goal scoring chances.  Hummels is the quintessential playmaker/defender.






Have Mainz found Fuchs's permanent successor in Caligiuri?





Timothy Chandler – The German-American right back was in fine form in Nürnberg’s away win over newly promoted Hertha Berlin.  Chandler combined well down the right with Mendler and provided the right amount of attack without compromising defensively.  Last season Chandler stood out for his dynamic attacking prowess but against Hertha he showed a more refined and disciplined side that bodes well for his development into a complete player.

Marco Caligiuri – Mainz lost a key player in Christian Fuchs over the summer.  The left back’s versatility, attacking ability and qualities on set pieces were invaluable and replacing him was never going to be easy for Thomas Tuchel.  Caligiuri’s performance against Leverkusen is an optimistic indicator of a potentially seamless transition though. Few players were more involved than Caligiuri and it was largely because of him that Sam had such a hard time getting into the much.  Mainz were also especially threatening attacking on the left flank, which is where their second goal came from.


Mario Götze –  The prodigious 19 year old playmaker is arguably the Player of the Weekend and was the fulcrum of Dortmund’s masterful display.  Götze completed an impressive 91% of his passes and was everywhere despite starting on the right side of midfield, linking play, providing and outlet to his teammates and even scoring himself.  So outstanding was Götze that he garnered comparisons with Messi from the man most consider Germany’s greatest ever player, Franz Beckenbauer, “It is not possible to stop Mario Götze…he runs through opponents as if they are not there…He is an instinctive footballer just like Messi.”  No doubt this is not the last we will hear about Götze.





Harnik was Stuttgart's standout player against Schalke.




Martin Harnik – The Austrian starred in Stuttgart’s dismantling of last years Cup winners Schalke with a fine Man of the Match performance.  Harnik scored a goal and created countless other chances in what was a very impressive win for Stuttgart.  He pinned back Fuchs for most of the match and was a constant thorn in Schalke’s side, always running at defenders and cutting into the middle to exploit Schalke’s vulnerable center of the pitch.

Jan Schlaudraff – Few players are more synonymous with injury than Schlaudraff but every once in a while he reminds Bundesliga viewers why he was once so highly rated.  Schlaudraff’s technical ability and pace was on full display against Hoffenheim who had a hard time containing him for most of the match.  Apart from being one of the most involved players on the pitch, Schlaudraff also scored one and created the winner.  One cannot help but wonder where Schlaudraff would be if he could just stay fit on a more consistent basis.  Surely, performances like this would be a lot more common.

Ilkay Gündogan – Sahin who?  It is too early to make any grand conclusions but Sahin’s departure has hardly been felt thanks to Gündogan’s wonderful pre-season and first match performance.  As if he was the reincarnation of Paul Scholes, Gündogan pulled the strings in midfield and provided the platform for Dortmund’s fluent and dynamic performance.  With a striking 90% passing accuracy, the central midfielder effortlessly balanced Dortmund’s attacking and defensive game and was involved in what will arguably be an early contender for goal of the season.





Helmes hit two past his former club Köln.



Patrick Helmes – Before Wolfsburg’s opening match few would have penciled Helmes in as a starter against Köln.  After his disappointing campaign last season and impressive performances from Mandzukic and Lakic, Helmes appeared to many as third choice.  Instead, Magath surprised everyone by starting the man against his former club and was proven right in the end.  Helmes bagged a brace and helped his side rebound after their disastrous elimination the previous week.  After several injuries this could be exactly the boost in confidence a talented player like Helmes needs.

Sascha Mölders – Cisse was the the most high profile player in the Augsburg/Freiburg match but it was Augsburg forward Mölders who walked away with the highest praise.  The former FSV Frankfurt player twice helped the newly promoted club to come from behind and snatch an important point in their opening match.  Most have Augsburg pinned for relegation so a good start to the new season is vital for a club with the fewest resources in the league.  Mölders could just turn out to be the revelation Cisse was for Freiburg last year.

Honorable Mentions

Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez, Christian Schulz, Shinji Kagawa, Markus Mendler, Kevin Grosskreutz, Markus Rosenberg, Sami Allagui


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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari


  1. Kickers Top-spieler results – by comparison, pretty darn close- impressive Cristian:

    Götze, Mario
    ter Stegen, Marc-André
    Großkreutz, Kevin
    Mandzukic, Mario
    Allagui, Sami
    Badstuber, Holger
    Brouwers, Roel
    Caligiuri, Marco
    Fritz, Clemens
    Helmes, Patrick
    Kagawa, Shinji
    Kvist, William
    leondowski, Robert
    Mölders, Sascha
    Rosenberg, Markus
    Schlaudraff, Jannover
    Wollscheid, Philipp

  2. Helmes this weekend simply reinforced my belief in not liking him when he was with Leverkusen. I have no critique on him being included–just ruing the fact he didn’t do more of that when he was in red and black.

  3. Whoever selected Moelders made an inspired choice. That kid’s quality is not in doubt, and whatever happens to Augsburg, he’s showing that he belongs in the 1. BL.

  4. Yea Piszczek did well too, wanted to keep it a “realistic” formation format but that’s certainly a good shout.

  5. This sounds about right. As for Dortmund defenders, I would probably pick Piszczek over Hummels who, frankly, I thought had a more difficult job playing against a player who’s fast than him (Elia) and managed that plus getting involved in so many attacks down Dortmund’s right side, but ultimately that’s nitpicking. Good selection.
    I do love a good ‘Hummels is popping up on the left wing’ moment though.

  6. Thanks Tim. I think Götze could well be Player of the Year if this keeps up. Talent like that, at an age like that…well I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen something like that in Germany.

  7. Ter Stegen was amazing – great choice in the net. Agree with assessment on Götze as spieler des spiels.

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