Javi Martinez Features in Bundesliga Team of the Week
The last seven days have have been more eventful than usual in German football. For the first time this season, the Bundesliga had an "Englische Woch," with matches in midweek and on the the weekends before and after.
While Dortmund, Schalke and Frankfurt dropped points in both of their last two matches, the likes of Leverkusen and Mainz took advantage with a pair of wins that saw them leap up the table.
Bayern remain leaders and, despite being held to a draw with BVB, increased their lead to 11 points over the two-time defending champions. However, Leverkusen's surge has left the Bavarians with just an eight-point lead over second place.
There were many heroic displays in the 18 games played this week. Read on for the top XI, chosen based on aggregate performance.
Goalkeeper: Rene Adler
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After a wasted year at Leverkusen, Adler has reaffirmed his class this season and much more. His performances over the last few days are just two more flawless displays in what may be his best season yet.
Adler was dominant in midweek as he helped HSV earn a 3-1 win against Schalke. Then on Sunday, he was man of the match in a 1-1 draw with Wolfsburg: he made one world-class stop from Ivica Olic and coolly dealt with the constant threat posed by the in-form Diego. Come springtime, Joachim Loew will certainly owe him a run-out with the German national team.
Defender: Gonzalo Castro
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Leverkusen moved to within eight points of Bayern following two consecutive wins in the last week. In the first, the Werkself had Gonzalo Castro to thank.
Leverkusen went 2-0 up in Bremen on Wednesday thanks to two strikes from the 25-year-old and won 4-1. Castro had a less-than-stunning performance over the weekend, but helped Leverkusen take three points from Nuernberg.
Defender: Mats Hummels
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Hummels always seems to play at his best against Bayern Munich, and Saturday's showdown was no exception.
The 23-year-old made several outstanding interceptions, and his timing was impeccable. He didn't always have much help from his defensive midfielders, and in the same situations, another defender might have seen several goals sail into his net. Hummels was in top form, though. Not bad, considering he had missed BVB's draw with Duesseldorf due to an injury.
Defender: Bo Svensson
Mainz continue to defy the odds as they approach the summit of the Bundesliga table. Thomas Tuchel's side currently stand sixth, just two points from a Champions League spot.
Gritty victories in Frankfurt and at home to Hannover rounded off a successful week for FSV, and veteran center-back Bo Svensson was in top form in both fixtures. The 33-year-old was especially strong against Frankfurt, winning the ball in almost every 50-50 situation.
Defender: Dennis Aogo
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The first few months of the Bundesliga were difficult for Dennis Aogo, who was dropped from Joachim Loew's Germany squad and had only appeared in half of Hamburg's matches until recently.
The 25-year-old turned over a new leaf this week, however. He was the man of the match as HSV beat Schalke 3-1, stifling Julian Draxler's influence on the left and winning a late penalty to put the match away. Aogo gave another strong performance on Sunday, this time from a midfield position, and linked very well with Maximilian Beister. He certainly is back at his best.
Midfielder: Hiroshi Kiyotake
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Nuernberg had a hugely important clash with fellow relegation candidates Hoffenheim on Wednesday, and Kiyotake led the way to victory.
The Japan international scored an early opener and helped put the match to rest at the death with a second goal. He struggled on Saturday, but in a new position, on short rest and against a strong Leverkusen side, he can hardly be blamed.
Midfielder: Javi Martinez
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Some labeled Javi Martinez the €40 million flop in September and October, but as of late the Bayern man has made the critics eat their words.
Martinez played about as well as any of his teammates on Wednesday, but in Saturday's clash with Dortmund he lifted his game to the next level. The Spain international was unyielding in midfield, and his strong play in the center made up for Bastian Schweinsteiger's subpar performance.
Midfielder: Eugen Polanski
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Svensson was not the only Mainz player to impress over the two matchdays this week. Polanski, too, was in superb form.
In both the win in Frankfurt and the triumph over Hannover, the Poland international was superb in a holding midfield role. Polanski flew into his challenges and was almost always first to the ball. It was a top-class performance from the 26-year-old, who is doing his part in spearheading Mainz's ascent to the top of the table.
Midfielder: Maximilian Beister
It wasn't exactly Hamburg's best week; the Rothosen may have beaten Schalke, but their performance in the draw with Wolfsburg left much to be desired. Yet, three Hamburg players are absolutely deserving of spots in Team of the Week, and Maximilian Beister is one of them.
The Germany U-21 international scored a cracking opener against Schalke, and his clever back heel ultimately led to HSV's second. On the weekend he maintained his strong form, scoring the opener against Wolfsburg. Had he not been substituted so early, he might have put the game out of reach. After he was withdrawn, Wolfsburg equalized.
Forward: Marko Arnautovic
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Arnautovic was absent from the Bremen squad in their 4-1 drubbing to Leverkusen in midweek and showed Bremen just how much they missed him on Sunday. The 23-year-old was so impressive that even with his absence on Wednesday, he managed to earn recognition in the Team of the Week.
The Austria international scored three of Bremen's four goals in Round 15 as the northern side crushed Hoffenheim 4-1 in Sinsheim. Arnautovic may be a very volatile player, but at his best, he can be lethal.
Forward: Stefan Reisinger
Duesseldorf earned two huge results this week as they held Dortmund to a draw at the Signal-Iduna Park and hammered Frankfurt 4-0 at home.
Stefan Reisinger was the hero in both games for promoted Duesseldorf. The 31-year-old netted the equalizer in Dortmund, then opened the scoring in the rout of Frankfurt. His goals were only his second and third of the season, but were by no means wasted.