Two goalless draws is a rarity in the Bundesliga so this was a unique weekend in German football. Perhaps even more surprising was Augsburg’s win over high flying Gladbach which finally lifted the club out of last place in the standings. At the other end of the table, Bayern cemented their place at the top with their win over Stuttgart while Schalke moved level with rivals Dortmund after their win over Hertha on Friday. Finally, Köln and Bremen were the biggest winners of the weekend with emphatic victories against Wolfsburg and Freiburg respectively.
Here are the players that impressed us most on Matchday 16:
Jaroslav Drobny – Hamburg’s #1 has been in top form for several weeks now and finds himself in our TOTW for a record fourth time. Against Mainz, Drobny stopped a flurry of attacks and shots, saving his team a vital point three minutes from time when he saved what should have been a Choupo-Moting goal, maintaining Fink’s unbeaten record. Drobny commands his box well organizes the most improved defense in the league.
Fabian Johnson – The German born American international has been utilized all over the pitch this season by coach Stanislawski but arguably his best performance of the season came in his side’s 2-0 win at Nürnberg this weekend. Played at left back, Johnson stood his ground well against Eigler and Chandler and assisted both Hoffenheim goals. He lost only 2 of his 16 challenges and completed 80% of his passes, a fantastic return for someone who spent most of the season playing in midfield.
Gibril Sankoh – If one were asked what the easiest result to predict was this weekend, a Gladbach win at Augsburg would have been the most obvious answer, making the actual result that much more surprising. Given Gladbach’s form this year this goes down as the biggest upset of the campaign so far. The biggest reason for Augsburg’s win? Their defensive performance. At the heart of that performance was center back Sankoh who won an impressive 17 challenges and completed 100% of his passes.
Emanuel Pogatetz – The Austrian center back was the most impressive player on the pitch in Hannover’s hard fought 0-0 against Leverkusen. He was a big reason Leverkusen failed to score for the first time in 6 matchdays, winning 12 challenges and completing the second most passes amongst Hannover players, and doing all that after suffering a serious head wound.
Christian Clemens – The injury to Chihi looked like it could seriously derail Köln’s campaign several weeks ago but the young Clemens has filled in impressively and perhaps presents and even better choice for coach Solbakken. His Olympic goal (goal directly from a corner kick) merits inclusion alone but his overall creativity and willingness to attack defenders made Clemens Köln’s best player against Freiburg and further adds to his increasing reputation.
Jermaine Jones – Not too long ago Jones spent his time on the fringes of the squad and was close to being sold but coach Huub Stevens has given the defensive midfielder a new lease on life and he has thrived ever since. Against Hertha, Jones was Schalke’s standout player and the biggest reason why the Berliners left the field frustrated and without a point.
Philipp Bargfrede – The departure of Frings left a big gap to fill in midfield and Bargfrede and Fritz have both had the duty of filling that vacuum, sometimes succesfully and other times unconvincingly. Against Wolfsburg, Bargfrede put in a performance reminiscent of the former Bremen captain, running an amazing 13 kilometers, setting up Bremen’s third goal, winning a match high 20 challenges and completing more passes than any other Bremen player (39).
Vedad Ibisevic – The Bosnian striker has now scored 5 of Hoffenheim’s last 6 goals. His return from injury has been a godsend for a side who have recently struggled to maintain consistency. Ibisevic’s two goals against Nürnberg gave Hoffenheim their first win since Matchday 10 and their first win on the road since Matchday 5. For a club struggling to find consistency this season a strong finish going into the winter break is important and Hoffenheim will need an in form Ibisevic to do that.
Mario Gomez – It is always interesting to see how players perform against their former clubs. Some have hang ups and can’t quite live up to the task but Gomez seems to relish the occasion and scored his 5th and 6th goal against his former club in 4 matches. He had a season high 41 touches on the ball and was Bayern’s liveliest player. After a couple of disappointing performances, the striker seemed like he had a point to prove and did it with authority against Stuttgart.
Claudio Pizarro – His inclusion is almost mandatory whenever Bremen do well because chances are that Pizarro is behind that success. In Bremen’s demolition of Wolfsburg, Pizarro scored his 12th goal of the season and created two others for his teammates, his assist to Arnautovic’s goal especially delightful. The Peruvian has scored 60% of Bremen’s goals this season.
Lukas Podolski – The Köln darling has been linked with a move away from his beloved city but that did not seem to distract the striker against Freiburg, adding another brace to his already impressive season. Podolski is playing with a liberated freedom he seldom enjoyed in his career and proved he can do it without striker partner Novakovic this season.
Coach of the Week
Jos Luhukay – Augsburg’s coach deserves the spot for pulling off the most surprising result of the season so far. He kept his team organized and competitive against a Gladbach team most penciled in for 3 points. Luhukay did well to isolate Gladbach playmaker Arango and keep him out of the game, the Gladbach player having a match high 14 misplaced passes.
Sven Ulreich, Ammar Jemal, Naldo, Jan-Ingwer Callsen Bracker, Sokratis, Christian Fuchs, Sascha Riether, Slawomir Peszko, Olcay Sahan, Teemu Pukki