This was the week of draws in the Bundesliga with 5 of the 9 matches ending in a stalemate. Bayern München reclaimed top spot in the league after convincingly beating Bremen with Gladbach and Dortmund dropping back to second and third after their draw. Thorsten Fink continues his unbeaten run since taking over Hamburg with his win against Nürnberg while Mainz and Leverkusen continue their upturn in form.
These players in particular stood out for us on Matchday 15:
Jaroslav Drobny – For the third consecutive week, Drobny makes our TOTW and not without merit. In his best performance of the season so far, Drobny continuously denied a stubborn Nürnberg attack, making crucial saves against Eigler, Didavi and Pekhart. He even prevented an own goal after an unlucky header from Kacar nearly went into his own net. To top it all off, he assisted his team’s first goal with a long accurate kick from the back.
Christian Fuchs – Fuchs has had to reign in some of his attacking game after making the move from Mainz but the Austrian remains one of the most potent fullbacks in the league and against Augsburg he reminded the league of that. Almost everything positive went through him on the left side as Fuchs scored one and set up the other two. He had a total of 55 touches on the ball and made the most crosses, playing almost like an auxiliary winger rather than a left back.
Dante – The Brazilian was known for his rather reckless runs up the field and clumsy tackles not too long ago but under Favre, he has easily distinguished himself as one of the league’s best center backs. Quite possibly the most improved defender in the Bundesliga this year, Dante polished his tackling and his build up play and was outstanding against Dortmund on Saturday. He won 79% of his tackles against Dortmund and was always a threat on set pieces.
Florian Dick – Kaiserslautern’s right back hasn’t had the easiest time this season with his team’s inconsistent form and lack of goals but Dick did his part formidably against Hertha. The right back nullified Ramos and Kobiashwili’s threat and was a constant threat on the right side. Dick had more touches than any other player on the pitch and remains one of the league’s underrated crossers.
Pedro Geromel – It is difficult to justify the inclusion of a defender in the TOTW when his side shipped two goals. Well not exactly, not when that defender is Pedro Geromel, whose importance to Köln cannot be stated enough. Solbakken has had to use seven different backlines this season, explaining his erratic form but the return of Geromel should add some much needed stability, especially if his performance against Stuttgart is any indicator where he was for Köln’s defense what Podolski is to their attack
Franck Ribery – Of the 35 games in which Ribery has scored for Bayern the team has yet to lose and that impressive trend continued against Bremen. The Frenchman was a thorn in Bremen’s side, scoring two and drawing the penalty for the fourth goal. Ribery did well to exploit Bremen’s lack of width and draw players out of position as he rekindled his partnership with Robben late in the game. When Ribery plays well, so does Bayern.
Christian Gentner – Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia made a bold move replacing Kuzmanovic with Gentner in the “double six” against Köln but the decision proved inspirational as Gentner organized Stuttgart’s midfield well and scored both their goals. Gentner made good use of his first start in 7 matches with a fine overall performance and would have earned his team the 3 points with his two goals were it not for Köln’s late strike.
Arjen Robben – Although fully recovered from his injury, Robben still had to make due with watching the game from the sidelines against Bremen. He did make a cameo on 60 minutes though soon after Bremen equalized and Robben played a big part in shifting the momentum back in Bayern’s favor. He calmly converted both Bayern penalties and ran Bremen’s defense dizzy in his 30 minutes on the pitch. Robben now has a remarkable 32 goals in 44 league matches.
Anton Putsila – Freiburg’s left winger was the best player on the pitch as the Breisgau eleven took on Hannover. Putsila was a big part of Freiburg’s revival and comeback in the second half and their eventual equalizer. Strong in the dribble and industrious defensively, Putsila made the left side his own as the match wore on and helped his side earn a crucial point against a strong opponent.
Marcel Jansen – One of the many Hamburg players who have enjoyed a notable upturn in form under Fink, Jansen has been improving from week to week and put in another strong shift against Nürnberg. The former German international scored Hamburg’s second and decisive goal but was strong throughout, running at defenders and providing a good link up option for his teammates.
Lukas Podolski – Köln’s form this season may be erratic but Podolski is still enjoying the best season of his career. Köln’s talisman scored both goals in his side’s draw against Stuttgart, the second coming two minutes from time to save his team an important point. It is hard to imagine what Köln would do without his services this season but it must be said, Solbakken has been a godsend for the 26 year old.
Coach of the Week
Lucien Favre – The Swiss coach proved this week that his side is not a one man team as many have claimed. Missing the in form Reus, Gladbach had to take on league leaders Dortmund and came out with a deserved point and a respectable performance. The key of any successful coach and side is how one adapts around the loss of key players without a notable drop in performance and Favre did that impressively.
Heiko Westermann, Manuel Friedrich, Andreas Beck, Michael Kadlec, Sidney Sam, Mario Mandzukic, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Images courtesy of spox.com