Bundesliga: Who has particularly impressed so far?

The winter break has arrived in Germany with fixtures resuming on Friday 12th January when Bayer Leverkusen take on Bayern Munich, kicking off the 18th round of fixtures. With the latter, 11 points clear at the top of the table, it is clear Jupp Heynckes’ side have been the stand-out team in the division. Alongside Munich, which players have enjoyed a fruitful first-half of the season?

Goalkeepers

Borussia Dortmund have been rejuvenated since Peter Stoger took over following the dismissal of Peter Bosz, moving up to third-place with consecutive victories. Before their slump, Dortmund started the season extremely well with goalkeeper Roman Burki being the last keeper to concede in the league after going 516 minutes without picking the ball out of his net.

Jiri Pavlenka, Werder Bremen’s summer-signing from Slavia Prague, is currently topping the statistical charts for most saves made, albeit with the same number as Timo Horn, whose FC Koln side are bottom of the league. Both shot-stoppers have pulled off 73 saves so far, seven more than the next performer: Koen Casteels of Wolfsburg.

This is somewhat expected as both sides are struggling, with Bremen 16th in the table. Yet without Pavlenka it would be much worse, since Florian Kohfeldt’s side have conceded the third fewest goals in the league.

Defenders

35-year old Schalke centre-back Naldo is an ever-present performer, playing all 17 games for a side sitting in 2nd position. Memorably, the Brazilian netted a 94th minute equaliser after Schalke had been 4-0 down to Dortmund at half-time. Naldo has been imposing at both ends of the pitch, using his physicality and experience to help Schalke accumulate 30 points after 17 games.

Augsburg left-back Phillip Max has the most assists in the Bundesliga as it stands. The full-back has provided 10 assists so far for a side in ninth place in the standings. This tally of assists is four more than Joshua Kimmich, who is in joint second-place for assists. Kimmich has impressed for Bayern Munich, featuring at right-back for the league-leaders, despite having the ability to play elsewhere given his versatility.

Sokratis, Salif Sane, Mats Hummels and Matthias Ginter have all been integral to their respective sides, performing admirably.

Midfielders

Despite only being 12th in the table, Wolfsburg’s Daniel Didavi has contributed six assists and five goals, playing in all 17 matches before the winter break. The 27 year-old attacking midfielder was signed from Stuttgart in 2016, and has already scored more goals than he did last season.

With the ability to play on either wing, Leon Bailey has adjusted quickly to Bundesliga football with Bayer Leverkusen, picking up six goals and four assists for Heiko Herrlich’s team.

Leon Goretzka of Schalke has scored four in 11 matches, and has been linked with Bayern Munich and Liverpool, a testament to his performances this season given the calibre of sides enquiring into signing him. The central-midfielder will be a huge loss to The Royal Blues, given his form before the winter break.

Matthew Leckie scored four goals in his first seven games for Hertha Berlin this season, including a brace on his debut in the 2-0 win Stuttgart. The Australian international winger has put the disappointment of last season’s relegation with Ingolstadt firmly behind him.

The Munich midfield has been colossal with players such as Arturo Vidal, James Rodriguez, Corentin Tolisso all undoubtedly high-class talents for a side who have lost just twice, and look well-set to collect their 28th league trophy at the end of the season.

Forwards

Topping the goal-scoring charts with 15 goals in 16 games, Robert Lewandowski is the star striker in the Bundesliga as he aims to reach the 30-goal tally for the a third time in a row. Given his form in the first-half of the season, the Polish international looks well-placed to achieve this, such is his prolific instinct in front of goal.

Despite being sent-off in the 4-4 draw with Schalke, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 13 goals in the 15 games he has started, sitting second in the goal-scoring rankings. Dortmund struggled during a dip in form, resulting in the sacking of Bosz, yet the 2015 African footballer of the year, has continued to regularly find the net despite the team’s struggles.

Augsburg’s Icelandic forward, Alfred Finnbogason has found the net 11 times during 16 appearances, with three of these coming from the penalty spot. The former Real Sociedad and SC Heerenveen player certainly knows where the back of the net is, once hitting 29 goals for the latter during the 2013-14 season. He will hope to continue his form, starting from the 13th January, when Augsburg host Hamburg.