December 14, 2017

Team of the Week – Match Day 10

 

It was an unusual weekend in the Bundesliga to say the least.  Most prominent in the minds of Bundesliga viewers was Hannover’s historic win over Bayern.  Bayern conceded their first goal in 770 minutes.  Ironically enough, the goal to end their spell came on a weekend that was one of the lowest scoring in recent months.  Only two matches saw more than three goals scored.  Dortmund made up a large chunk of the 19 goals scored with their emphatic win against Köln.  Bremen, Augsburg, Mainz, Hertha Berlin, Nürnberg, Stuttgart, Hamburg and Wolfsburg all had to split the points while Hoffenheim, Schalke and Kaiserslautern managed narrow wins.

Here is our Best 11 of Match Day 10:

Goalkeeper

Broken finger you say? Did not seem to stop Jentzsch

Simon Jentzsch – Arguably Augsburg’s best player this year, the veteran goalkeeper single handedly earned his side an important point against Bremen.  Going into the game with a broken ring finger, the 35 year old played with considerable pain and made 4 crucial saves to deny Bremen.  In a year where Augsburg will fight for every point having a determined goalkeeper like Jentzsch is going to go a long way in their quest to remain in the league.

Defenders

Mats Hummels – After arguably his poorest showing for Dortmund in a long time midweek against Olympiakos, the center back redeemed himself with an outstanding performance against Köln.  Involved in three goals, the center back/playmaker was one of the most creative players on the pitch.  Hummels was the most active player on the pitch (104 ball touches) and completed more passes than anyone else (71).  He has been more involved in initiating attacks in the wake of Sahin’s departure and his influence on the team has grown steadily over course of the season.

Naldo was a fortress against Augsburg

Naldo – Oh how Bremen have missed the finesse and influence of the Brazilian in their backline.  With their midfield visibly flustered and unable to get a foothold in the match, Naldo took it upon himself to initiate most of Bremen’s attacks all while maintaining a sense of composure and stability at the back.  Strong in the tackle and assured in his distribution Naldo was Bremen’s best player against Augsburg.   His team may not have won but Naldo’s performance was a personal victory and a reason to be hopeful for Bremen supporters.

Martin Amedick – Kaiserslautern have not provided much to extol about this season so performances like the one against Freiburg are quite significant.  Freiburg may have one of the most porous defenses in the league but offensively they are one of the most potent and Amedick’s stolid performance went a long way in keeping Cisse from adding to his already impressive tally. Although inadvertently, Amedick also assisted Kaiserslautern’s winning goal.

Zdenech Pospech – There may be more worthy inclusions but Pospech’s couragous and hard working performance against Hertha Berlin deserves a mention amidst a very disappointing season for Mainz.  The right back ran more than any other player on the pitch aside from Kirchoff and won an impressive 16 of his duels, the most important of which came against the dangerous Ben-Hatira.   Pospech was the most active player on the pitch with a match high 88 touches and 51 completed passes, an encouraging performance in a season where there is little be excited about for Mainz supporters.

Midfielders

Kagawa scored his first goal in 9 matches against Köln.

Lars Stindl – Quite possibly the performance of the match day, Hannover’s right midfielder was at the forefront of his side’s huge win over Bayern.  Stindl had to fill in in center midfield in the Europa League but against Bayern was put back in his preferred position and outplayed the best left side pairing in the Bundesliga.  The midfielder covered an incredible 12.24 km, won most duels (17) and completed more passes (26) than his teammates.  It is very rare that Lahm and Ribery get outplayed but Stindl was possessed, determined to win and ensured that the Bayern players had a day to forget.

Sebastian Kehl – Dortmund’s captain has come under heavy scrutiny for his performances this season and has even become a symbol for their stuttering start.  All that was brushed aside for 90 minutes though as Kehl put on his best performance in long time.  Winning 70% of his tackles and having 5 shots on goal, Kehl was solid defensively and intrepid in attack.  Always involved and confident on the ball, Kehl led by example and provided the stability Dortmund have been lacking in midfield this season.

Jefferson Farfan – The Peruvian winger celebrated his 100th Bundesliga match with one of the goals of the season.  His 77 meter sprint across the length of the pitch and cool finish decided the match but more importantly, Farfan provided the kind of threat that Schalke lacked against Leverkusen.  His speed, strength, and willingness to take players made Farfan a constant threat.  No wonder that almost everything positive went through the winger.

Farfan may be the Bundesliga's quickest player.

Shinji Kagawa – The Japanese playmaker has struggled to replicate his great first season and waned after his opening day performance. Fortunately for Dortmund Kagawa rediscovered that form against Köln and was one of the primary reasons Dortmund put on one of the team performances of the season.  Always mobile and difficult to mark, Kagawa’s clever movement and eye for goal made it impossible for Köln to settle into the game.  His goal kickstarted the black and yellow avalanche that suffocated the hapless Billygoats.

Forwards

Robert Lewandowski – The Polish striker continued his fine form and cast aside doubts about his early season jitters with two classy finishes against Köln.   Lewandowski moved up to third in the goal scoring charts with his brace and now has 5 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 Bundesliga matches.  He may be more timid in front of goal but his skill and link up has been a big reason for Dortmund’s upturn in form and ability finish their chances.

Ibisevic was the difference in a tight match.

Vedad Ibisevic – Perhaps not the most memorable performances by either Hoffenheim or Ibisevic but his goal decided one of the more scrappy and hard fought matches of the season.  Games like this with chances few and far between leave players with relatively little opportunities to score, making goals all that more valuable.  Ibisevic scored his first goal in over half a year and had to drop deep to defend a lot more than he is normally accustomed to but did it all rather well, especially for a player that just returned from a lengthy spell out with injury.

Coach of the Week

Mirko Slomka – The most underrated coach in the Bundesliga?  Quite possibly.  Slomka and Hannover have gone from strength to strength over the last year and a half and where sides like Mainz and Dortmund have struggled, Hannover have maintained a cool consistency that has resulted in several impressive results across all competitions.  His win against a Bayern out to set a league record was no coincidence, having also beaten them last season, but indicative of the great work of the humble and capable Slomka.

Honorable Mentions

Rob-Robert Zieler, Lukas Piszczek, Philipp Wollscheid,  Christian Pander, Manuel Schmiedebach, Sven Bender, Toni Kroos, Moa Abdellaoue, Mario Götze, Gojko Kacar, Gökhan Töre, Martin Harnik, Timmy Simmons, Axel Bellinghausen, Itay Shechter

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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

5 Comments

  1. I think Hannover are going to pleasantly surprise a few people. Slomka used basically the same 11 last year but has started rotating more this season.

  2. I’m very excited on your last statement given the fact I’m a huge fan of “The Foals”. It would be tremendous to achieve EL spot just after some sort of miracle kept us in the League.
    By the way, I think the current situation @ Hannover is not helping their future. They fight like a championship match for every game since the season starts [specially against Hertha, Bremen, BvB, Munich, Copenhagen and Sevilla] and the next few weeks also bring some serious challenges. With the Europa League on the line and competitive matches of the League the season will be tough on them due to fatigue, players suspensions and injury given the squad is not a such strong.

  3. Glad to see Shechter score….I still think Kaiserslautern can’t just rely on him if they want to stay up this year, but he’s proving he belongs in the Bundesliga. Really happy to see Vedad Ibisevic get a goal in his comeback from injury….it only makes Hoffenheim a more dangerous team to have him back and healthy.

  4. Thanks for reading first of all! 🙂

    Second, I have to say that the exclusion of Zieler this week probably got the biggest reaction. To be honest, Zieler could just as easily have been picked but I always want to give different players a chance and I’ve already featured Zieler. No doubt that he was fantastic though. He’s really making a push to be Germany’s #2.

    Have to admit, I honestly forgot to include Shechter, I meant to put him in the honorable mentions, I’ll have to fix that right away. I think he’s only going to improve with the season. And if those around him do as well we’ll see much more out of him.

    On your last comment, I think its down simply to the Europa League suiting Bundesliga sides better. It is more at their level. Also, I think Schalke have the depth and quality needed to compete in Europe while Slomka’s style and Favre’s (when in charge of Hertha) simply suited the continental style better. That’s why I would love to see Gladbach make the EL next year.

  5. I enjoyed every one of your team of the week edition since the beginning of the season. When I come to today’s one, I think Zieler deserved a place more than Jentzsch. I also thought that you’d pick Schmeidbach after his industriousness display. Pander is also performing well, but I didn’t see Mainz vs Hertha match to judge Pospech.
    One player you didn’t mention at all despite he is a match-winner is Itay Schechter. He scored the only goal of the match against Frieburg after denied a clear goal by the linesman earlier and won a penalty which is ruined by Tiffert.
    All in all it’s a pleasure to read your posts and keep it up.
    By the way, did you notice this season Europa League participants doing pretty well at the league? Through the years it’s been though for those clubs to keep the pace up in the league due to the overload match at Thursday. [specially Hertha Berlin a couple years ago relegated while they had been in Uefa Cup].

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