More than one quarter of the 2012-13 Bundesliga season has passed, and already there have been plenty of compelling narratives.
From surprise runs of form (or lack thereof) to stunning blowouts to breathtaking comebacks, the German top flight has seen it all. And congratulations are certainly in order for a number of top players.
Read on for a countdown of the top Bundesliga performers thus far this season...
Gladbach needed a player to step into Marco Reus’ boots this season, and although die Fohlen have often struggled, Juan Arango has done brilliantly well to fill the void left by the departed attacker.
The 32-year-old has been the match-winner (or at least has saved a point) in several cases, most recently a shocking 3-2 win against Hannover in which he set up two goals and scored from an audacious free kick.
With eight goals to his name thus far, Mario Mandzukic has developed a large lead in the race to be Germany’s top scorer.
The Croatia international has been just what Bayern hoped for him to be: a physical presence in the box, and a reliable backup for Mario Gomez.
Mandzukic might have otherwise been ranked higher, but because the majority of his goals have come after Bayern have gone ahead, he stands behind many less prolific attackers.
Lukasz Piszczek has picked up where he left off last season, further affirming his status as one of the world’s best full-backs.
While his best performances have been in the Champions League, the 27-year-old has nonetheless been exemplary in domestic play. Always a combative player in defense, he has continually shown up in attack when it mattered most.
Now in his sixth season in Germany, Franck Ribery is still Bayern’s most influential creative force. The Frenchman’s ability to beat opponents in one-on-one situations, to pick out a telling pass and to score goals of his own is simply world-class.
The fact that Bayern dropped points for the first time this season without their talismanic winger in the squad is no coincidence.
However, while he may be the most talented player in Germany, Ribery misses out on a top-five spot because he has only featured in five of Bayern’s games thus far.
Like his teammate, Piszczek, Marco Reus has saved his best performances for the Champions League. However, since filling the void left by Shinji Kagawa in the summer, the Germany international has also been excellent in Bundesliga action.
His blistering pace, creativity and lethal finishing have helped make Dortmund an even more dangerous attacking force than they were in each of the last two seasons. It is therefore no wonder that the title-holders have only been outscored by Bayern.
Having nearly kept pace with Bayern in the Bundesliga and recently beating Arsenal at the Emirates, Schalke have earned their place among Europe’s strongest clubs. And much of S04’s success can be attributed to the excellent form of Lewis Holtby.
The 22-year-old has been pushed into an attacking midfield role this season, but has retained the industry and defensive qualities he learned in the more defensive position he occupied last season.
He covers more ground than most playmakers, but still manages to assert himself in and around the penalty area: Thus far, he’s scored three goals and assisted three goals.
Frankfurt have been the Bundesliga’s surprise package thus far, and much of their success can be attributed to the brilliant Sebastian Rode. Plagued by injuries earlier in his career, the 22-year-old steadily improved in the 2011-12 campaign, and this season has taken a giant step forward in his development.
A box-to-box player, Rode is a firm and reliable midfield presence for Frankfurt in both attacking and defensive duties. His progress has not gone unnoticed: Dortmund have been heavily linked with a move for the youngster, and Joachim Loew is reportedly considering him for a nomination to the Germany national team for November’s friendly with Netherlands.
With respect to Szabolcs Huszti’s talent, no pundit on the planet expected him to be the Bundesliga’s signing of the season. However, the Hungarian stormed onto the scene in August, scored three goals and gave seven assists in Hannover’s first five matches.
Huszti has since come down to Earth, as have Hannover. However, the player’s early season performances have thus far earned him a spot among the elite footballers in the German top flight.
His career looked to be in serious trouble only a few months ago, but Rene Adler’s recovery of form this season has been truly phenomenal. After missing the entire 2011-12 season, the 27-year-old has had a tremendous start to the campaign, time and time again bailing out Hamburg’s defense.
With Adler between the posts, HSV have become true contenders for a Champions League spot. The ex-Leverkusen stopper’s performances have not gone unnoticed by Germany coach Joachim Loew, who recently hinted that a return to the national side may be on the horizon for Adler.
Huszti may have been nearly as productive overall thus far, but Thomas Mueller is in a class of his own. The Germany international’s tally of six goals and seven assists in eight appearances is impressive, but only tells half the story: He produces regularly, and his contributions are almost always vital towards the final result.
Incredibly, Mueller has scored or assisted in every game in which he’s played, and played a direct role in Bayern’s first goal in six matches. He proved it in the Champions League final last season, and he’s proving it time and time again: When Bayern need a goal, Mueller is the man to make it happen.