September 21, 2017

Team of the week – Match Day 4

Bayer concede 4 goals for the first time in three years, Bayern and Dortmund fail to score on the same match day for the first time in 5 and a half years, and Paderborn tops the table. Match day 4 was truly unpredictable and fun to watch. Here are the eleven who stood out in our eyes to make the Bundesliga Fanatic team of the week.

Goalkeeper:

Yann Sommer – The derby between 1. FC Köln and Borussia Mönchengladbach was a tightly fought affair. Despite playing very defensively, it was the hosts getting the lion’s share of chances in the end. Gladbach keeper Sommer was put to the test on 7seven occasions and he parried every single shot that game towards his goal. Losing Marc-Andre ter Stegen might have been a blow for Lucien Favre and Gladbach’s fans, but as long as the Swiss national keeps posting great performances like today, he’ll be considered an adequate replacement.

Defenders:

Uwe Hünemeier – At the back, the former Borussia Dortmund player ran a tight shift, winning 85% of his duels. Hünemeier also assisted on Elias Kachunga’s goal. Through and through a great performance by the Paderborn player.

Heiko Westermann – Usually the central defender’s name is used as a punch line in jokes, but against Bayern and under new coach Joe Zinnbauer Westermann Westermann had one of his better performances in quite some time. He won 100% of both his tackles and arial duels, while snagging five interceptions and making seven clearances. If the former Germany international can maintain this sort of form, HSV might stop conceding silly goals.

Ricardo Rodriguez – Bayer Leverkusen conceded four goals for the first time in three years. A big reason for Die Werkself’s misery on Sunday was the Swiss left back who scored one goal from the penalty spot and another on a spectacular volley from outside the box. He also crossed the ball to Vierinha for the Wolves’ second goal of the match. A good performance from A to Z by Rodriguez.

Midfielders:

Tarik Elyounoussi – 4 interceptions, 4 shots, 1 chance created, and 1 goal scored. The Norwegian was one of his team’s most active players during Die Hoffe’s convincing 2-0 win over VfB Stuttgart. Elyounoussi seems to be off to a great start to the season; he has already scored more than last season (well, last season he scored no goals at all) and has seemingly started to get more regular playing time in Gisdol’s starting XI. Currently Hoffenheim are struggling with injuries, but the Norwegian is giving his coach few reasons to drop him once other players return from injury.

Jairo – What a substitution by Mainz boss Kaspar Hjulmand! Mainz had somehow managed to keep a clean sheet for the first sixty minutes Then the Dane decided to bring the Spaniard who arrived this summer from Sevilla. Jairo repaid his coach’s faith in him by providing both assists on Mainz’s goals scored against their former coach Jürgen Klopp’s Champions League side.

Tobias Werner – After 90 minutes, Werder coach Robin Dutt had to admit that his team were outdone by FC Augsburg. A good portion of the credit for that goes to the FCA midfield powered by Daniel Baier, Halil Altintop, and Tobias Werner. Werner himself scored his fourth goal from a header in his Bundesliga career and his fourth goal against Werder Bremen (three of them came from headers).

Ronny – “It’s meat, Brazilian meat,” answered the Brazilian midfield maestro after the match against Freiburg when a German reporter asked him for his secret for being so good at taking free kicks. Ronny’s two free kicks secured a precious away point for Hertha against fellow relegation strugglers SC Freiburg. The fact that the midfielder managed to keep his head cool deep into injury time to score his second goal makes his accomplishment all the more impressive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAGeAppkn2Y

Matthias Lehmann – The oldest player on the 1. FC Köln roster is making a great argument for thinking of “experience” and “senior leadership” rather than thinking of players growing too old to perform at the their best, because the man Köln fans call “Matzelinho” appears to be aging like a fine wine in his role at the pivot in Peter Stöger’s well-organized defense. While Matze gets plenty of support from the four behind him and from keeper Timo Horn, the emergence of Lehmann as a leader of the Billy Goats’ defensive effort  has been the most-vital part of Köln remaining the sole Bundesliga side yet to concede a goal. His Rhine Derby debut was nothing short of masterful, keeping the middle of the field closed to the Borussia Mönchengladbach defense so well that you have to excuse his side-footed attempt that wasted one of Köln’s better cracks at getting on the scoreboard.

Attackers:

Elias Kachunga – The German Under-21 international got the all-important first goal of the match and sent Paderborn on their way to their second win of the season. Last season, it took Kachunga 12 match days to score 3 goals in 2. Bundesliga. This year, he has as many goals after just four match days. Bild wrote earlier this week that the striker can leave the club for a 1 million Euro buy-out clause. If Kachunga keeps performing like this, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if a bigger and more-established club would choose to buy the former Gladbach player.

Shinji Okazaki – Ahead of the match between Mainz and Dortmund, the game had been billed as the battle of the Shinjis: Mainz’s Okazaki against his countryman Kagawa, recently returned to Dortmund. Kagawa and Dortmund were dominant for most of the game, but when it really counted Mainz and Okazaki made their chances count. The 05’ers striker now has 4 of his team’s 7 goals, which is one of the main reasons the team from one of Germany’s carnival cities occupies the second spot in the table.

Honourable mentions: Caiuby, Felix Klaus, Karim Guede, Davie Selke, Anthony Modeste, Sebastian Rudy, Halil Altintop, Marvin Hitz, Daniel Baier, Alexander Meier, Naldo, Kevin de Bruyne, Josip Drmic, Mortiz Stoppelkamp, Marco Russ, Vierinha, Junior Malanda, Loris Karius, Jonas Hector, Christoph Kramer

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball and on the @AufstiegPod.

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