Bundesliga Team of the Week: Jansen, Rudnevs & Son demolish Dortmund

Goal.com rounds up the pick of the talent in Germany’s top flight as Bayern Munich opened up a 15-point league after the top of the table after BVB and Leverkusen slipped up

Most weeks in the 2012-13 Bundesliga have been good ones for Bayern Munich, and matchday 21 was no different. Hours after Borussia Dortmund had lost 4-1 at home to Hamburg, they thrashed rivals Schalke 4-0 at the Allianz Arena. And both HSV and the Bavarians are heavily represented in Goal.com‘s Team of the Week.

In goal, we have Kevin Trapp of Eintracht Frankfurt, who made a string of fine saves as Armin Veh’s side turned in a disappoitning performance against Nurnberg, but still emerged with a point to their name.

At the back, we have the first of our Hamburg contingent, Marcell Jansen, who was a constant threat to Dortmund. David Alaba was on fine form for Bayern Munich, scoring twice from defence, and Martin Latka put in a fine performance for Fortuna Dusseldorf, who ultimately lost 1-0 to Freiburg.

The midfield is manned by four creative talents. Diego pulled the strings for Wolfsburg against Greuther Furth in Bavaria, Mehmet Ekici netted twice as Werder Bremen routed Stuttgart, Franck Ribery terrorised the Schalke defence time and time again, and Andre Schurrle scored one and had another ruled out in a thrilling 3-3 draw between Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach.

The two stars of Hamburg’s Signal Iduna Park shock were Son Heung-Min and Artjoms Rudnevs, who bagged two goals apiece and man the front line alongside Stefan Kiessling, who scored yet again for Leverkusen.

Ibrahimovic, Ozil & Ferdinand – the stars rested ahead of Champions League resumption

With Europe’s top competition set to get back under way on Tuesday, many teams elected to give their top players a break during the weekend’s domestic action

By Enis Koylu

The resumption of Champions League football brings with it a shift in focus for clubs; having been concentrating solely on domestic matters, they have an extra flow of games to deal with, and must plan accordingly.

While league programmes do not relent, Europe’s big guns can afford to take some risks and leave out their best players to keep them fresh for the challenges, and that was exactly what happened across the continent over the weekend.

While Valencia named a mostly full-strength line-up, leaving only Joao Pereira on the bench, Paris Saint-Germain played their Ligue 1 game against Bastia on Friday, just 48 hours after last week’s internationals, and left three key players out of their first XI.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Blaise Matuidi all missed out and it showed. The capital club struggled during the first half, but when the trio were introduced, they turned the tide of the match, with both forwards finding the target.

Tuesday’s other fixture sees Celtic face off with Juventus in Glasgow, and Neil Lennon took the opportunity to rest a host of players. Indeed, only goalkeeper Fraser Forster and Kris Commons played against Inverness Caledonian Thistle (the latter being substituted at half-time), with the likes of Joe Ledley, Victor Wanyama, Scott Brown, and Gary Hooper all sitting out the fixture. Little did it matter, though, as the Hoops ran out 3-1 winners in the Scottish highlands.

The Bianconeri, however, fielded a more recognisable line-up for their Serie A win over Fiorentina on Saturday. Martin Caceres and Sebastian Giovinco sat out the clash with the Florentines, and may well start at Parkhead, while Mirko Vucinic was withdrawn after just 62 minutes as a precaution with three points all but secured.

The tie of the round sees Manchester United and Real Madrid meet, with the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, and Jose Mourinho left Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Angel Di Maria out of his starting line-up against Sevilla, and withdrew Cristiano Ronaldo on the hour-mark after his match-winning hat-trick.

Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson elected to give two of his first-team players a rest. Michael Carrick was named on the bench, perhaps as a precaution after a minor knock ruled him out of England duty, while Rio Ferdinand did not feature at all.

The Ukrainian season has not restarted after the winter break, so Shakhtar Donetsk’s players will all be fresh – if not necessarily match fit – when they entertain Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, but the German champions were in action against Hamburg.

Feet up | Ozil will have had a week’s rest when Madrid & United face each other

Marcel Schmelzer missed Germany’s friendly with France last week and was not risked when HSV travelled to Signal Iduna Park, while Neven Subotic was left on the bench despite recovering from a hamstring injury. Finally, Ilkay Gundogan came on with half an hour remaining.

With four fixtures to come the following midweek, some other Champions League teams took the chance to leave players out for their league games.

Of the eight teams involved, the rotation policies of Barcelona and Bayern Munich were most obvious. The Catalans left out Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets and Pedro, but beat Getafe 6-1 anyway, while the Bavarians were not troubled by the absence of Thomas Muller, Daniel Van Buyten and Mario Mandzukic, thrashing a Schalke missing both Jefferson Farfan and Julian Draxer 4-0.

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Schweinsteiger past his best, says Thon

The experienced midfielder remains a key player for club and country, but the 46-year-old believes he is on the decline and could lose his Germany spot shortly

Former Germany international Olaf Thon believes that Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger already has his best days behind him.

The influential midfielder has been a key figure for both club and country in recent years, but Thon feels that the 28-year-old is past his best.

“Schweinsteiger is a player who will only further decline simply because he no longer has the speed from before,” Thon said to Sky 90.

“You need speed and aggressivity in his position, although I have to admit that Schweini is doing a good job. He is showing other qualities and could perhaps stay at this level until the 2014 World Cup.

“After that, he will probably follow the same path as Michael Ballack with the national team. It could even [be] sooner. Schweini’s mainly playing simple vertical passes and cannot beat his man anymore. Borussia Dortmund’s [Ilkay] Gundogan brings more to the table at the moment.”

Gundogan impressed when he took Schweinsteiger’s place in Germany’s 2-1 friendly win over France last week.

Gomez: Lewandowski does not worry me

The striker has brushed off reports that his position could be under threat if the Borussia Dortmund star arrives at the Allianz Arena

Mario Gomez says he has “no fear” over rumours linking Bayern Munich with a move for Robert Lewandowski.

After reports in the media suggested the Bavarians were interested in recruiting the Poland international, Lothar Matthaus then claimed on Saturday that a deal was almost complete.

But on the back of scoring in his side’s 4-0 victory over Schalke, Gomez laughed off suggestions he was concerned over the prospect of increased competition for a starting slot.

“I have no fear of anyone,” he told reporters.

“The club must commit themselves clearly and tell us what’s going on. If it is so, then it is so. But it’s not my job to comment on speculation.

“I can only say that all the strikers feel very comfortable here in Munich. We will see what happens.”

Saturday’s win means Bayern are now 15 points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

Hoeness hits back at Matthaus over Lewandowski claims

The Bayern Munich president is unhappy with the Germany legend for suggesting the striker had agreed to move to the Allianz Arena

Uli Hoeness has hit back at Lothar Matthaus for claiming that Robert Lewandowski was close to agreeing a move to Bayern Munich, saying that had switched his attention from women to transfers.

The Germany legend suggested a deal had already been struck for the Poland international to join the club in the summer, leaving the Bavarians’ president far from happy.

“Lothar Matthaus has become active again in recent months. It was always with women and now he is suddenly discussing new players at Bayern. It seems that he has changed his hunting field somewhat,” he told Sport1.

“Why should we deny things that do not concern us at the present? We have no desire to constantly deny any rumours. We focus only on our work and not rumours.”

Hoeness also commented on the decision to appoint Pep Guardiola, suggesting that it might have been a surprise to current coach Jupp Heynckes.

“This was a strategic decision. It was possible for us to get Pep Guardiola now, and he would likely have been unavailable for the next 10 years,” he added.

“As much as we are happy with Jupp Heynckes, the right decision was made for the future of the club. This has nothing to do with Jupp Heynckes’ work because he has done a sensational job.

“[Heynckes] may have been surprised by this decision. but the way he works and sets the team up means there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that there is any dissonance.”