Team of the Week – Match Day 8

by Cristian Nyari

Several firsts characterized week eight in the Bundesliga.  Eintracht Braunschweig won their first game of the season while Borussia Dortmund finally lost a match in the league to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Elsewhere, Bert van Marwijk won his first game as Hamburg coach at the expense of Nürnberg who suffered their biggest league defeat in almost 30 years to Hamburg.  In the match of the week, Bayern and Leverkusen split the points while Mainz snatched a last minute draw against Hoffenheim.

Goalkeeper

Bernd Leno – Bayern’s draw with Leverkusen was not due to a lack of trying.  In fact, Bayern were superb and on any other day could have scored three or four the way they were playing.  There was Bernd Leno though, who kept out just about everything Bayern threw at them.  Whether it was Ribery, or Muller or Robben, Leno was equal to it and saved his team a big point against the defending champions.

Defenders

Christian Schulz – An unexpected name but an important part of Hannover’s backline in his first start this season.  They may have dropped points at home for the first time but Schulz ensured they still finished with at least a point.  He scored Hannover’s only goal (four of his last five have come from set piece situations) and was a constant threat in dead ball situations.

Martin Stranzl – If Stranzl was younger he would be attracting interest from clubs all around Europe. Already one of the best on the ball and reading the game in the league, the Austrian veteran center back proved just how good he still is against Dortmund.  As Dortmund piled on the pressure one man never batted an eye.  Stranzl won an incredible 72% of his duels and barely gave the ball away under mounting Dortmund pressure.

Deniz Dogan – Sometimes the sheer desire proves the difference in a game. 33-year-old Braunschweig captain Deniz Dogan is a great example of that.  The veteran defender made his Bundesliga debut at Wolfsburg and put in an exemplary performance.  He organized the backline very well and made sure Olic, Diego and the rest of the Wolfsburg offense stayed as quiet as possible.  The win is a huge psychological boost for a team that has so far struggled to keep teams out.

Midfielders

Raffael van der Vaart – The conductor of Hamburg’s dominant win over Nurnberg on Sunday.  After coming under a lot of criticism over Hamburg and his own form in recent weeks the captain put in his best performance of the season so far.  He scored one of the team’s five and set up two others. It was the kind of effort that made Hamburg fans fall in love with him back in his first spell with the club.

Max Meyer - Similar to Mesut Özil and Julian Draxler before him, Max Meyer appears to be nearing a breakthrough season for Schalke this year.  Various injuries and good cameo appearances have earned him a good amount of playing time this year.  Against Augsburg, Meyer was trusted again to come off the bench and make an impact and that he did, scoring his first Bundesliga goal and causing Augsburg headaches until the final whistle.  More is sure to come from one of Germany’s most exciting young prospect.

Toni Kroos – Kroos was outstanding midweek against Manchester City and he carried that form right over to the weekend in Bayern’s big game against Leverkusen. His loan spell there played a big part in his development and this performance was just another indicator of how far he has come.  He took his goal really well and bossed the midfield alongside Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Ribery.  Most of all, what is really impressive about Kroos is his ability to get into good shooting positions, always finding pockets of space left unattended by opponents.

Martin Harnik - A performance from the Austrian that ideally should have been rewarded with three points instead of one.  The Stuttgart attacker put his team in the lead and covered more ground , had more sprints and made more runs than any other Stuttgart player.  His goal was also his first at home since April of last year.  Three points went amiss but Stuttgart remain unbeaten under new coach Thomas Schneider and Martin Harnik’s form is improving with every game.

Forwards

Pierre-Michel Lasogga – Eight minutes, three goals.  One of the fastest hattricks in Bundesliga history and Nurnberg’s worst league loss in almost 30 years.  The on loan striker from Hertha Berlin has started three games for Hamburg and scored five goals.  Hamburg have been looking for an out and out goalscorer for some time now and if they can manage to sign Lasogga permanently they may have just found him.

Adam Szalai – A terrific all around performance from the Hungarian striker who has filled in brilliantly for the injured Huntelaar.  Against Augsburg Szalai added two more goals to his count this season to bring him up to six in all competitions.  Szalai put in a usual hard shift capped by typically good finishes and a great instinct for the game.  He has been a terrific reference point for Schalke’s attack.

Karim Bellarabi - A nightmare for Wolfsburg’s defense, the loanee from Leverkusen scored one of Braunschweig’s goals this weekend to help his team to their first Bundesliga game since 1985.  He had more shots than any other Braunschweig player and used his chances well when they presented themselves. All the while, Bellarabi was clever in using open space and creating it for his teammates. A great day for the 23-year-old and very promising for Braunschweig following a difficult start.

Honorable Mentions

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, David Alaba, David Abraham, Atsuto Uchida, Ermin Bicakcic, Johan Djourou, Robin Knoche, Marco Höger, Norman Theuerkauf, Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery, Mirko Boland, Julian Draxler, Firmino, Xherdan Shaqiri, Ronny, Domi Kumbela, Max Kruse

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Author: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
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