Winter break in Bundesliga is underway. First half of the league finished last week with much clamor and glamour. We have witnessed fall of the giants and rise of the pretenders in this half, to say the least. This statement is true for the teams and the players alike. Some famous players departed and fresh new faces arrived and the ‘business’ went on with the same passion of the fans.
With many surprises and outstanding performances the football festive of 2010 in Germany has closed once for all. With New Year on the brink, it would welcome all and sundry and the league will resume on the fortnight of the January 2011.
It looks all suitable to present you with top players in first half of Bundesliga season.
Which players have managed to impress with their performances individually? Which players were the team players in the first half of the league? How did new comers do? Who scored the most of the goals? Who assisted the most? You will get all the answers regarding the top players in first half of Bundesliga season 2010-11, in this post.
The list has no orderly or definite ranking like top 25 or something like that but it’s the list of Top Bundesliga players, in no order, who have impressed the writer of this post with their outstanding performances—individual or not. Hence, it is an opinionated work—which can either be agreed upon or not—based on personal opinions of people.
When I write ‘madness’ or ‘monster’; I really don’t mean what they mean but I mean something ‘unplayable’ or ‘genius’—sort of.
Marcel Schmelzer—Borussia Dortmund
If I were to pick the best full back of Bundesliga so far this season, or that of the first half you may say, then that would be him. The brutal transition of Dortmund’s attack that starts from the back is carried forward so smoothly and vigorously by this man roaming out to invade the flanks. Not only he possesses attacking mentality—some trait which is inseparable from modern full-backs—but also many players find it a mountain job to get passed him. Geared up with strong feet, flawless tackling, and attacking prowess; Marcel Schmelzer has been a joy to watch in first half of Bundesliga season.
He came from ‘nowhere’ and installed the faith in an old tradition that Brazilians, by and large, adapt to Bundesliga like as if they are home and begin to show some spark right from the start. Wesley showed that Werder have found a gem but some low-confidence in the dressing room coupled with injuries to many of the team’s important players affected the league and European run so badly that the praise—Wesley was accumulating—went ashtray. However; his creativity, passing, movement, and dedication for the team didn’t go unnoticed.
“Lions Never Get Older”—in fact, lions only enhances their fierce presence in the jungle as their age passes by. Ze Roberto has been that lion in the jungle of Bundesliga. At the age of 36, nearing the end of his football career, Ze Roberto never looks tired or weary but actually he has played his game at higher level that of the young players around. Injury plagues in HSV squad hasn’t done good to the team and that in result has made Armin Veh play most of his players out of the positions. Ze Roberto has justified his experience by constant rotation on the pitch playing in midfield and wing-backs and has assisted 7 of the team goals in this half; second highest in the league at the moment.
Łukasz Piszczek—Borussia Dortmund
There came a riddle when Patrick Owomoyela got injured but Piszczek became an answer. With the inclusion of Piszczek, Borussia Dortmund got a whole new dimension. What Schmelzer was doing down the left flank, Piszczek started doing that on the right flank and voilà! It made it possible for Jürgen Klopp to apply “bombarding” tactic to the team. It might be hard to remember the spelling of his name but the damage he does to opposition is simply unforgettable.
Fuchs is amongst the brightest legion of the full-backs. He has been a consistent performer for Mainz in first half of the season and a constant throne for the opposition when it comes to set-pieces. His indirect free-kicks have been turned into goals by his team-mates on many occasions and his marauding runs from the back have caused much trouble as well. He is a loanee from VFL Bochum and where Christian Fuchs will trade his next season is yet to be seen but what remains reassured is that we may enjoy his exploits in second half of the season as well, in Bundesliga.
I have never seen a 19 years old lad taking penalties and free-kicks with such precision before. Gylfi Sigurdsson has been a revelation since his move to Bundesliga from Reading this last summer. Initially debuting in September—starting as substitute—Gylfi was given a chance to understand the pace of Bundesliga. He showed in his second match—again started as a substitute—that he didn’t need any of that learning. He scored the goal from a free-kick in that match and thence has been scoring from free-kicks and penalties for fun. His midfield play will surely enhance by the passage of the time as he hasn’t even hit his 20’s yet but something tells that this lad will make his name in his last age of teenage alone. Watch out for him, will you!?
Pedro Geromel—FC Köln
Many people are underestimated—misunderstood most of the times—and that’s what has happened to Pedro Geromel. At the time FC Köln is literally in relegation zone and the goal difference is second worst in the league at winter break i.e. -15 which sounds more like a winter in Russia that sends shivers down your spine but one should not forget that Luciano Spalletti has celebrated his Russian Premier League triumph topless in that condition. In same way, the name Pedro Geromel has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid despite the disastrous stats of the team. Sometimes stats can be delusional and overrated as Hannover has goal difference of -2 but are sitting 4th on the league table.
Geromel has been a consistent player at the back of FC Köln since his debut in 2008. You cannot do much more if you have Faryd Mondragon between the sticks and fragile attacking power that have scored only 18 goals altogether which is second lowest in the league—despite the players like Lukas Podolski, Novakovic, Petit, Matuszczyk, and Lanig in ranks. Hence, no critic could spare a glance at the side. Geromel has been great in defending as far as individual performances are concerned in the first half of Bundesliga and has played the games at the level that is needed for resolute side. His successful tackling ratio per match, mostly ending in ball winning, has been outstanding.
One can hope that with Mondragon being gone and the recent arrival of Rensing from Bayern Munich; Pedro Geromel will collect much deserving praise overall at the end of the season with the help of improvement in attacking department of FC Köln, as well. Watch out for him!
Marco Reus—Borussia Mönchengladbach
Marco Reus has scored five goals and provided the team with five assists in this first half of the season. Probably, the only best thing we have seen from Borussia Mönchengladbach is this lad. He already showed the signs of things to expect from him when he scored his first Bundesliga goal against Mainz last year which involved some freak 45m long run and now we are witnessing that he has improved his game this season as the stats show itself. Whether Borussia Mönchengladbach will survive the relegation or not will largely depend on this player’s contribution if I am not exaggerating it.
Ivo Ilicevic completes the triangle of Kaiserslautern attack which consists of himself, Christian Tiffert, and Lakić. Ilicevic has scored some crucial goals for Kaiserslautern and as the team plays with lone striker upfront; Ilicevic has proven his worth in attacking midfielder role which he mostly sways with wing-play. Ilicevic has helped the team with five goals and five assists in the first half which is not bad at all.
Manuel Neuer—Schalke 04
An undisputed heir to the throne of Sepp Maier and Oliver Kahn, Manuel Neuer has been linked with the clubs across the Europe time and time again. As young he is, something tells that his best days are yet to come if they haven’t begun in a fashionable manner already. Wretched standing of Schalke in the league would have been far too worse if this man wasn’t between the sticks for them. The highlights of his first half surely would be his performance against Bayern Munich—the match where he kept clean sheet—and went on impressing Louis van Gaal and the hierarchy of Bayern Munich to great measure.
Mario Götze—Borussia Dortmund
The wonder kid of Germany as whole and Borussia Dortmund in particular, Mario Götze has amassed plenty of match-starts and has rightfully justified the trust put on him by Klopp with six assists for the team in this first half of Bundesliga season. He also has scored two goals so far but what’s special about Götze is his creativity and versatility that makes him stands out in the crowd. Surely, a gifted player blessed with great football brain—Götze has a bright future waiting for him.
Didier Ya Konan—Hanover
Ya Konan is making it sure, just as Drogba that we will be seeing many football players named “Didier” emerging from Africa, in near future. Didier Ya Konan has been fantastic for Hannover so far this season who have carved out an impressive run reaching winter break. Ya Konan has scored nine goals and has assisted four to lift up the spirit of the team. He is a technical player with a stomach to help out his team mates and possesses very strong trait to rip the defense apart with his mazy runs.
Christian Tiffert deservedly leads Bundesliga’s Assists chart at the winter break. He has found a new life in Kaiserslautern’s set-up since his move from MSV Duisburg. Not only he has found momentum but he has also bestowed an air of revival for certain Srđan Lakić. He has provided the team with his assists at the crucial moments of the matches mostly and looks set to take the second half of the season with fire and pick from where he left off.
Shinji Kagawa—Borussia Dortmund
What a sparkling ‘madness’ at mere cost of €350,000! Shinji Kagawa, a ferocious attacking midfielder with an innocent baby-face, has become an instant hit and fan favorite with his devastating exploits in his debut season of Bundesliga. A true attacking midfielder who possesses position awareness, inclination of exploiting the gaps, dummy runs to confuse the defenders, great technique, sublime creative freedom, likeable personality, and uncanny hunger of scoring goals; Kagawa is destined to have great seasons ahead. If you are a Dortmund player and score two goals against the fierce rivals Schalke 04 in Ruhr Derby then you are blessed with ‘Cult Hero’ status already.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk—Bayern Munich
Tymoshchuk has made his name in his long stays at Shakhtar and Donetsk. He needs no introduction. He is an ambitious tackler and decent passer of the ball all around. It was intriguing and frustrating to not seeing him in Bayern Munich team since his move in 2009. But this season, as van Gaal started to play him more, it was evident to see what Bayern was missing all along. Primarily a defensive midfielder, Tymoshchuk has equally learned his trade to play at heart of the defense in this first half of Bundesliga season. Keeping his age in mind, as he is thirty-years old—the players like position rotation in young age—it is evident that moving positions is not a problem for him which only speaks of his desire of playing, creativity, reliability, and his 100% of commitment and dedication.
Robert Lewandowski—Borussia Dortmund
The super-sub of Bundesliga so far; it is very hard to seep in to first XI of Borussia Dortmund these days but whenever Robert Lewandowski has landed on the pitch for Dortmund, he has given us a belief that we should expect higher from him. Where Lucas Barrios offers his telepathic link-up play with his team-mates, Lewandowski gives some slow but deadly hold-up play to benefit all the team and to make it easier for other players to raid the final-third. He has scored five goals in first half of the season and much more are yet to come from this man in second half of the season.
Papiss Demba Cissé—SC Freiburg
Football’s modern example of ‘selfish strikers’—Papiss Cisse came from ‘nowhere’ and has conquered the hearts of Bundesliga viewers. Not only he stopped there but his crackling performances have drawn out some scouts of some leading European Football clubs, mainly English Premier League, to Freiburg. He scores the goals without making any fuss, possesses strong footwork, blistering runs, and strength in air to fend off his opponents.
Lewis Holtby—FSV Mainz
Lewis Holtby has been a massive influence for FSV Mainz. When Mainz leveled the record of the best start of the season in years i.e. seven straight wins off the start—equally held by Bayern Munich of 1995 and Kaiserslautern of 2001—then it was Lewis Holtby who was playing all the cards. Holtby is gifted with a flawless vision which he often uses to fire some defense splitters; the passes he provides are joy to behold as they cut through defense of the opposition like the proverbial knife on the cake. Lewis Holtby has been an influential player with a visible impact for Mainz in this first half of the season.
Lucas Barrios—Borussia Dortmund
Lucas Barrios is one of the few players who have cemented the reputation and fulfilled the expectations of last season. Lucas ended the last Bundesliga season with 19 goals finishing the third highest goal-scorer and has gone on scoring with same guile this season as well. His effectiveness in the box has been matchless, his agility up-the –field has made it sure that he was rightly nicknamed “The Panther”, his link-up with team is awe-inspiring, and his goal-poaching thirst remains unquenchable as he has amassed 8 goals in first half of the season alone.
Andre Schürrle—FSV Mainz
Normally, clubs in Bundesliga buy the youngsters and when the deal is done then they are loaned out to other clubs for gaining experience. In this case, Schürrle has made a strongest case of himself in first half of the season alone that when he moves to BayArena next summer then he will be installed in to first team directly. Scoring 9 goals with dead-eye accuracy, and assisting the team’s cause at three occasions; Andre Schürrle is a great team player and has been a fantastic player so far this season.
Lakić was not a player as he seems now. His goal-scoring was not that of a prolific scorer neither he made any rave reviews for his performances in past but he was just a decent striker. However; with arrival of Tiffert to Kaiserslautern in summer and laden with ambitions of doing well in top German division Lakić looks quite a different player as he has proven himself in first half of the season. He certainly carries a knack of scoring goals with headers and some sublime finishing off his feet. With 11 goals scored so far this season, Lakić looks to redeem his dark past years and is in the battle of grabbing top goal scorer of Bundesliga come May.
Mario Gomez—Bayern Munich
Gomez has had enough of bad luck since moving to Bayern and this season he has literally twisted the face of the fate by scoring 12 goals in first half of the season alone which include two hat-tricks. This man of confidence went on building it up in a thread with matches-on-matches. Absence of Klose and Olic assured one thing that Gomez was no longer on bench-warming status which, in fact, is what he needed and lo and behold—‘madness of a monster’.
Arturo Vidal—Bayer Leverkusen
Vidal has been immense for Leverkusen in their fierce run this season. He emancipates the team from the burden by running the midfield engine swiftly. One of the rare players who have continued build-up to their successful World Cup form, Arturo Vidal has become the most integral part of Bayer Leverkusen this season. He breaks the opposition plays with dead-on tackles in one moment and bombs the threatening passes from the centre of the midfield next moment. Arturo Vidal has been ‘madness’ at Leverkusen midfield in first half of the season and has justified his superb performances with five goals as well—A ‘Monster’.
Nuri Sahin—Borussia Dortmund
Sahin is an unplayable playmaker. He can be a deep-lying playmaker; demonstrating maturity in midfield battle; coming deep to help his team-mates; and effective tackles to break the opponents’ play. He has an ability of playing as classic playmaker; providing breath-taking assists; splitting the defense with out-of-the-world passes (grounded or lobbed); effective presence up-the-field; free-kicks; and curling corners which have been turned in to goals on many occasions this seasons. Sahin dictates the game with his leopard vision from the middle of the park and truly has been the most effective player of Bundesliga through mid-season reaching winter break.
Raúl González—Schalke 04
When Raúl made a move to Schalke from Real Madrid in summer, everyone thought that the move is down to age-factor and he will fade to black, disappearing in the pages of football history as one of the most prolific strikers and the name will be forgotten soon. This hasn’t happened actually. Raúl still possesses the very traits for which he made his name out of. Raúl has scored nine goals so far including hat-tricks and has finished his first half of the season on high-notes as far as individual brilliance is concerned. Not only he scored some beautiful goals but also remains in battle with Pippo Inzaghi to claim the epic reward of being all-time top scorer of Champions League. Both share 70 goals each and it would be intriguing to see who blows the final whistle as Schalke and AC Milan are in knock-out stages as well. For now, he is enjoying winter break out of his marvelous and sublime performances in front of the goal; in first half of Bundesliga season.