March 23, 2017

Team of the Week – Match Day 9

Back from international break, matchday 9 served up the usual exciting Bundesliga action, including one of the most controversial goals in league history, the first goalless game of the season and more. Bayern Munich maintained their lead atop the table with both Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen right behind them.  Hertha Berlin’s good home form continued and Wolfsburg got back to winning ways against Augsburg.  Elsewhere Stuttgart and Hamburg let the goals fly free and Schalke came back to beat Eintracht Braunschweig.

Goalkeeper

Bernd Leno – Stefan Kiessling’s phantom goal will headline the coverage but it was Bernd Leno’s performance in goal that really earned Leverkusen all three points at Hoffenheim.  Apart from saving Firmino’s penalty, Leno stopped just about everything thrown at him. He has had his shaky moments here and there but this game proved why he is one of the most talented young goalkeepers in Europe.

Defenders

Matthias Ginter – One of the most highly rated young defenders in Germany, Ginter had a standout performance against Werder Bremen. It was the first 0-0 of the season and in large part due to Ginter’s strong defensive performance.  He completed 33 of his 34 passes and marked Nils Petersen out of the game.  It’s hard to believe sometimes that Ginter is still just 19 years old.

Philipp Lahm – He really started in midfield but later moved into his familiar right back position.  Either way, there is little Lahm can’t do and much that he does, and does well.  Extremely well.  146 touches on the ball tells the story and there’s a reason his coach said he’s the smartest player he’s ever worked with.  Lahm was excellent in Bayern’s 4-1 win, as he has been all season.

Sebastian Langkamp – His injury was felt thoroughly in Hertha’s defense but since he’s been back Hertha have looked much more solid in the back.  Gladbach have one of the best attacks int he league this season and piled on the pressure on Hertha but Langkamp held strong for the entire game to preserve a huge three points.  Hertha could be this seasons’ dark horses at this rate.

Midfielders

Alexandru Maxim – Maxim has firmly estbalished himself as Stuttgart’s primary playmaker this season and one of the best already in the league.  Certainly one of the most effective.  He has created more chances from set pieces than any other player in the league this season (like Stuttgart’s second goal) and also gets involved in the scoring as well, just like he did this weekend. A gem of a player and a big reason in Stuttgart’s turnaround and form.

Mario Götze – This is the performance Bayern fans were waiting for ever since his signing was announced.  He took over the game when he came on, set up two goals, completed 97% of his passes and was a constant threat to Mainz’s defense.  His ingenuity was on full display as nearly every touch created a dangerous attacking situation for Bayern.  With more playing time and adjusting to his teammates, Mario will entertain Bayern fans for many many years.

Arjen Robben – Assists, goals.  Robben can do it all on his day.  Luckily for Bayern, Saturday was one of those against Mainz.  The Dutch winger was brilliant and despite the fact that Muller’s penalty took away another goal scoring chance for him Robben was outstanding.  At full speed and on form there are few defenders who can stop his trade mark cut in from the right, as predictable as it may be.

Tolgay Arslan – Van der Vaart is the center piece at Hamburg but Arslan was arguably their best player against Stuttgart.  The midfielder had 94 touches in the game, set up the 1-1 brilliantly and played one of the best passes of the game to their second goal.  The draw also means Hamburg remained Bert van Marwijk.

Forwards

Adrian Ramos – Had two chances but used them very well, one of them being the eventual match winner against Gladbach.  The Colombian striker scored one of the best headers you will ever see this season and his pace and power kept Gladbach’s defense busy all game long.  As a result, Hertha Berlin are sitting in a Champions League spot.

Orhan Ademi – Oh how close Braunschweig were to their first home win since March only for Schalke to snatch it away from them.  They went up through Ademi and played very well until Schalke’s comeback and last minute winner.  Part of of their good, or partially strong performance, was down to Ademi who turned the momentum against Schalke and put their defense under pressure from minute one.

Maximilian Beister – The best substitution of the matchday?  Beister came on with Hamburg trailing 2-1.  Five minutes later Beister leveled the scoring. And just when Stuttgart thought they had regained the lead, Beister set up van der Vaart with the next equalizer. An impact performance if there ever was one. His personality may be questioned but his talent is sometimes undeniable.  Time will tell but Van Marwijk may be the best thing that could have happened to Beister.

Honorable Mentions

Oliver Baumann, Fallou Diagne, Johannes van den Bergh, Marcelo, David Alaba, Gonzalo Castro, Sidney Sam, Ibrahima Traore, Maximilian Arnold, Kevin Volland, Marco Reus, Max Meyer, Leon Goretzka, Per Skjelbred, Karim Bellarabi, Thomas Müller

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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

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