Diego and Ribery Headline the Attack in Bundesliga Team of the Week
Round 16 of the Bundesliga saw the league leaders draw further away from the pack. Bayern's victory in Augsburg pulled the German record champions 14 points clear of holders Dortmund, who lost to Wolfsburg, as well as Frankfurt.
Like their Ruhr rivals, BVB, Schalke also suffered a defeat. A hat trick from Vedad Ibisevic downed S04, lifting high-flying Stuttgart level on points with the Gelsenkirchen side. Both remain 16 points off Bayern's record-setting pace.
On Sunday, second-placed outfit Leverkusen had a chance to pull further ahead of BVB and S04. However, their loss to Hannover means they slip to 11 points behind Bayern.
As always, there were some standout performances worthy of special praise. Read on for this week's top XI.
Goalkeeper: Diego Benaglio
David Cannon/Getty Images
He may have conceded twice, but Diego Benaglio could have allowed several more as Dortmund assaulted his goal on Saturday. The Switzerland international stayed calm and composed, parrying shot after shot that came his way. And with many thanks to the goalkeeper, Wolfsburg earned a 3-2 win against the Bundesliga title holders.
In the end, BVB fired 21 shots on Benaglio's goal but only scored twice, with the Wolfsburg stopper coming up aces in one-on-ones and notably late in the match as he tipped a dipping free kick over the bar.
Defender: Tony Jantschke
Pete Norton/Getty Images
Gladbach followed up Thursday's Europa League rout of Fenerbahce with another comfortable victory on Sunday, this time beating Mainz 2-0.
Tony Jantschke was among the brightest stars on the day for Lucien Favre's side. The right-back helped ensure that there were few chances for the visitors, and also managed to get forward to assist Mike Hanke's opener.
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
While it's true that he was part of a defense that conceded twice, like Benaglio, Naldo had an excellent game against Dortmund. The Brazilian could do nothing about Marco Reus' free kick opener, and it was Simon Kjaer who conceded the penalty that led to BVB's second goal.
Naldo had an excellent game defensively, his size and physicality resulting in a rather frustrating afternoon for Robert Lewandowski. All this, and he scored the vital go-ahead goal to make it 2-1 to Wolfsburg and set the tone for Dortmund chasing the game.
Defender: Bastian Oczipka
Frankfurt hammered Bremen by a 4-1 margin on Saturday in what was an all-round brilliant performance. There were many stars on the day, but Bastian Oczipka was one of the brightest for the Adler.
The full-back ran tirelessly up and down the left flank, involving himself in the play at both ends. Werder winger Marko Arnautovic had trouble making an impact but for one instance, and Oczipka managed even to get himself forward to assist Alexander Meier's opener.
The 23-year-old has greatly impressed at Frankfurt since moving from Leverkusen in the summer. Ironically, with Michal Kadlec injured, B04 could really use Oczipka's help now.
Midfielder: Lars Bender
Clint Hughes/Getty Images
Leverkusen may have lost to Hannover on Sunday, but not due to any lack of effort from the in-form Lars Bender.
The Germany international ran his socks off and proved not only an uncompromising ball winner, but a creator in the attack. He cut back the ball to assist Gonzalo Castro's opener, and played the cross for Stefan Kiessling's equalizer at 2-2.
Midfielder: Szabolcs Huszti
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Szabolcs Huszti had hit a bit of a drought in recent weeks following his brilliant start to the Bundesliga season. But on Sunday, the Hungary international recaptured the form that made him arguably the Bundesliga's best player in August and most of September.
The Hungary international won two penalties against Leverkusen and converted both spot-kicks, lifting H96 to three well-earned points.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Diego seems to have come to life since the departure of Felix Magath as Wolfsburg coach, and the Brazilian playmaker had his best match of the season on Saturday as the Lower Saxony side earned a remarkable victory in Dortmund.
The 27-year-old scored the equalizer from the penalty spot to make it 1-1, and assisted Wolfsburg's go-ahead goals at 2-1 and 3-2. Wolfsburg may be 14th, but if Diego can keep this level of form in the second round, the 2009 Bundesliga champions may find their way back into the running for a Europa League spot.
Midfielder: Markus Feulner
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Ex-Bayern Munich, Dortmund and Germany U21 international Markus Feulner was the match winner for Nuremberg on Saturday as the Bavarian side climbed further clear of the relegation zone and into 13th place.
The 30-year-old assisted Sebastian Polter's opener on 27 minutes, and dug in as Dusseldorf attempted to mount a comeback. Feulner ended all hopes for the visitors at the death, however, as he scored his second goal of the season to make the score 2-0.
Midfielder: Franck Ribery
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
It is fast becoming a default to include Ribery in Team of the Week; Saturday he was, as per usual, Bayern's best player in its 2-0 win in Augsburg.
The French winger was everywhere, and indeed covered more ground than any other Bayern player but for Bastian Schweinsteiger. His willingness to run meant Ribery was always close to the ball, and his 98 touches were far and away a game high. Ribery did not get his name on the score sheet, but he catalyzed most every Bayern attacking sequence, and directly assisted Mario Gomez's strike to make it 2-0.
Forward: Vedad Ibisevic
Stuttgart climbed to sixth place on Saturday following a 3-1 win against Schalke, and Vedad Ibisevic paved the way to three points for the Swabians.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international scored his eighth, ninth and tenth goals of the season, and did so in brilliant fashion. All his finishes were struck with tremendous precision, nestling into one or another corner of the net and leaving Timo Hildebrand with no chance of making a save.
Forward: Artjoms Rudnevs
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Fresh off their 3-1 win against Schalke, Hamburg climbed temporarily into sixth place in the Bundesliga table, beating Hoffenheim by a comfortable 2-0 margin. Artjoms Rudnevs was the match winner on Friday; his class made all the difference.
The Latvia international opened the scoring in the first half with a towering and brilliantly placed header, and put the match away late as he volleyed an unstoppable finish into the net. Less than six months into his Bundesliga career, Rudnevs is fast becoming a fan favorite at HSV, and for good reason.