Bundesliga Team of the Week: Draxler included after Schalke heroics

Goal.com rounds up the pick of the talent in the German top flight as the Gelsenkirchen outfit, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen all marched on

The 24th round of the Bundesliga saw its usual array of excitement and controversy. Bayern Munich marched on at the top of the table, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke recorded great wins, and Augsburg gave their hopes of survival a real boost, and talent from across Germany has made it to Goal.com‘s Team of the Week.

In goal, we have Mohamed Amsif, who made a number of key saves as Augsburg gave their kickstarted their hopes of survival by claiming an unlikely win over Werder Bremen at the Weserstadion.

The back three is manned by three people from different clubs. Stelios Malezas was one of the stars of the show as Fortuna Dusseldorf claimed a credible point against Mainz, Heiko Westermann put in a captain’s performance for Hamburg, who drew disappointingly against Greuther Furth, and Alvaro Dominguez helped Borussia Monchengladbach claimed a great win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Freiburg drew away at resurgent Nurnberg thanks in part to Jonathan Schmid‘s goal, Andreas Lambertz was another Dusseldorf star to shine, and Bastian Schweinsteiger struck the bar twice in a fine midfield showing for Bayern Munich against Hoffenheim. The star of the week, however, was Julian Draxler, who led Schalke to a 4-1 rout of DFB-Pokal semi-finalists Wolfsburg.

Luuk de Jong has had a difficult season up front for Gladbach, but scored the only goal at the Commerzbank Arena for the Foals, Robert Lewandowski returned to the Dortmund starting XI and scored twice against Hannover, and Stefan Kiessling continued his remarkable season for Leverkusen with another strike against Stuttgart.

Dante: Bayern want treble success

The former Gladbach defender has set his sights on winning everything this season, and realises that the Bavarians need every player they have in order to achieve that

Dante has stressed that Bayern Munich are aiming for victory in every competition they compete in, and has hailed the Allianz Arena side’s strength in depth.

The Bavarians sit comfortably at the top of the Bundesliga table, while they reached the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal last week and are set to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals following their 3-1 win over Arsenal in the first leg.

“We want to win it all and we need the entire team for that. We have a lot of top players, so the coach must rotate a bit. That we’re doing so well in all three competitions is the work of the entire squad,” Dante told TZ.

The Brazilian defender then went on to single out Barcelona and Real Madrid as their biggest rivals for Champions League glory, but refused to look too far ahead.

“For me, Barca and Real are our biggest rivals in Europe. They have some of the best players in the world.

“We have to focus on Arsenal for now, though.”

Bayern take on Fortuna Dusseldorf at the weekend before locking horns with Arsenal on March 13.

Van Persie, Alonso, Vidal & the Champions League stars one yellow card away from suspension

A fair few of Europe’s finest will be treading lightly in the last 16 as they look to avoid picking up a booking that would keep them out of a quarter-final clash

Shakhtar Donetsk travel to Germany on Tuesday with both Luiz Adriano and Tomas Hubschman just one yellow away from sitting out of a possible quarter-final first leg. There will be no such concerns for Jurgen Klopp, however, with his Borussia Dortmund side having picked up just six bookings in total so far – the best disciplinary record of any team to have made it the last 16.

Manchester United host Real Madrid in a mouth-watering tie at Old Trafford that same evening, and the Red Devils would have to do without Robin van Persie and Rafael in their next game should the duo pick up cautions. Likewise, both Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos run the risk of a suspension having both picked up two bookings during the group stage.

Juventus could be missing some key players of their own following their game against Celtic, with Arturo Vidal, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Claudio Marchisio having left themselves no margin of error. James Forrest and Scott Brown will have to tread lightly should the Hoops pull off a miracle in Turin, though the latter is expected to miss the match through injury.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva and Blaise Matuidi can’t afford to go into the referee’s notebook this week, and neither can Valencia’s Antonio Barragan, Tino Costa or goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

AC Milan will have to be up for the fight when they take a two-goal lead to Barcelona, though Mathieu Flamini, Philippe Mexes, Daniele Bonera and Riccardo Montolivo will have to curb their enthusiasm if they hope to feature in a possible last eight tie. Alex Song, Pedro, Javier Mascherano and Adriano will have to watch their step for the hosts.

Joel Matip and Marco Hoger both sit on two bookings and will have to be careful to avoid another for Schalke, while visitors Galatasaray could be without as many as five should they lose their discipline in Gelsenkirchen, with Albert Riera, Burak Yilmaz, Dany Nounkeu, Selcuk Inan and Nordin Amrabat all walking a tightrope.

Bayern need only worry about Javi Martinez and Dante as they look to finish off Arsenal. Arsene Wenger, however, has no less than six players who stand just one mistimed tackle away from missing their next game should they pull off an unlikely victory in Munich, with Thomas Vermaelen, Aaron Ramsey, Lukas Podolski, Laurent Koscielny, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla all facing potential suspensions.

Porto have no concerns, with only fringe player Abdoulaye Ba facing a possible ban. Weligton, Manuel Iturra and Sergio Sanchez will have to show extra care for Malaga.

Gomez praises 'efficient' Bayern

The 27-year-old scored his third goal in a week in Sunday’s tight meeting with Hoffenheim, giving coach Jupp Heynckes a selection headache

Bayern Munich forward Mario Gomez has lauded the team’s innate sense of efficiency following Sunday’s narrow 1-0 victory over Hoffenheim.

The Germany international’s first-half strike was sufficient enough in ensuring Jupp Heynckes’ men collected three points and moved nearer to stripping rivals Borussia Dortmund of their Bundesliga crown.

And speaking to the club’s official website, the 27-year-old was unequivocal in his assertion that Bayern’s efficiency was a key factor in the result: “We did not play well but we won. Efficiency is the right word. We have had many games where we had so many chances to score but we didn’t today. These games you have to win – and we did.

“Hoffenheim defended aggressively. As a striker you need to be opportunistic in games this tight – and I was. I’m glad I made the difference.

Meanwhile, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger echoed the sentiments offered by his team-mate in the aftermath.

He added: “We had many periods of inactivity in the game. It was not our best performance, but we are all very happy to have won.”

Bayern remain 17 points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund with 10 games of the league season still to play.

Heynckes: Hard work paid off for Bayern Munich

The 67-year-old was pleased to return from a tough game with all three points, and praised the courage displayed by the home side

Jupp Henyckes praised the hard work and commitment of his players after Bayern Munich battled to a 1-0 win at Hoffenheim on Sunday.

A solitary first-half strike from Mario Gomez was enough to earn the Bundesliga leaders all three points against a spirited home side, and Heynckes was thrilled to secure the win despite his side being far from their brilliant best.

“The game today was very difficult,” he was quoted as saying by the club’s official website. “The opponent is in trouble. They have played incredibly courageously, aggressively. That was a workmanlike victory – it was not brilliant, it was not glamorous, but in return you get three points.”

It was a rare day of profligacy in front of goal for the runaway league leaders, but Heynckes was happy to have secured all three points, insisting it is not always possible to win by a comfortable margin.

“We cannot win with three or five goals every time,” he explained.

“We had to roll up our sleeves. It took us a while until the engine was warm. We have not had so many clear chances. In the second half, it was better, since we had the game under control. Overall, we had to work hard.”