The 5 Best Individual Performances from Matchday 26 in the Bundesliga
Bayern Munich may have missed out on the title this weekend but should claim it midweek in Berlin. While the defending champions are running away with the title, the rest of the league is caught up in an intense battle for Europe and to avoid the drop.
Matchday 26 presented several matchups crucial in the intensifying relegation battle. Six of the bottom seven teams played each other while Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach attempted to hold on to their European dreams.
Amidst all the action, let us look at some of the standout performers this weekend.
Admir Mehmedi (SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen)
Freiburg hosted Bremen in the Friday night game; a match symbolizing what is shaping up to be one of the most intense relegation battles in recent memory. Christian Streich’s men came out winners and closed the gap between Bremen to four points thanks to Mehmedi’s outstanding performance.
The Freiburg striker scored his ninth goal of the season and assisted another in the team’s 100th Bundesliga win. It was also their biggest home win of the season and first against Bremen in 13 years.
Defensively it was also Freiburg’s best performance this season. They allowed a season-low seven shots on goal. While that was mostly down to Freiburg’s backline and midfield, Mehmedi won an impressive 73 percent of his duels. His work off the ball and in front of goal helped lift Freiburg out of the relegation spots.
Max Meyer (Schalke 04 vs Eintracht Braunschweig)
The Royal Blues continued their fine form in the second half of the season with their third consecutive win and seventh in nine since the restart. At the heart of their 3-1 win was 18-year-old Max Meyer, who was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch.
Meyer brilliantly set up Leon Goretzka for the first goal and had a hand in many of Schalke’s 32 scoring chances (a team-high this season along with Borussia Dortmund). The win keeps Schalke hot on Dortmund’s tail and sets them up perfectly for the Ruhr derby on Tuesday.
It is hard to believe Meyer is just 18 and playing in his first full season as a professional. His understanding of the game and vision are already among the best in the league, and he continues to add to his playmaking credentials with every game he plays.
There is a reason Julian Draxler still plays out wide and not in his preferred central role, and this reason is Max Meyer.
Joselu (1. FC Nurnberg vs Eintracht Frankfurt)
Eintracht Frankfurt’s biggest win of the season came arguably in their most important game to date. Joselu put in his best performance yet in the relegation dogfight against Nurnberg with two well-taken goals and an assist in their 5-2 win in Bavaria.
It was a devastating attacking performance from Frankfurt, who scored five goals in an away game for the first time in 20 years, their last also against Nurnberg back in 1993. The performance was best characterized by Joselu who had a career-high nine shots in this game.
The win took Frankfurt to 12th in the standings and six points off a relegation spot. With an extremely difficult last eight matches coming up this win was more important than any other this season, and it put them in a great position to stay up.
Max Kruse (Borussia Monchengladbach vs Hertha Berlin)
Last week Kruse broke his long streak without a goal and powered his team to a win at Borussia Dortmund. This week he scored again in one of Gladbach’s biggest wins this season. He also set up Raffael’s goal brilliantly to put his team back into contention for Europe after a slow start coming out of the winter break.
Before the Dortmund game last week Gladbach went nine games without winning. They went into the winter break in a Champions League spot and only two months later are in danger of missing out on Europe altogether. Luckily Kruse rediscovered his scoring boots at the right time.
The win against Hertha was their first at home in five games. Kruse logged his 10th goal and eighth assist of the season over the weekend and will play a big part in Gladbach’s push for a European spot. If his performances are anything like this one Gladbach fans can be very confident.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (1. FSV Mainz 05 vs Bayern Munich)
After being out of action for over two months, Bastian Schweinsteiger has finally returned to his best. Since making his return last month, the midfield veteran has gone from strength to strength and once again established himself as a first-choice player in Pep Guardiola’s side.
Over the weekend, Bayern were pushed arguably harder by Mainz than any other team in the league this season. Thomas Tuchel’s team actually held Bayern from scoring longer than any other team this year.
It took the defending champions 82 minutes to break the deadlock thanks to Schweinsteiger’s header, a goal that finally broke Mainz’s back and set Bayern on course for a record 18th consecutive win.
Schweinsteiger scored in his third consecutive start for Bayern and had a match-high 130 touches on the ball. For a while it seemed as though Guardiola would stick with Lahm and Thiago in midfield, but Schweinsteiger showed his qualities and spearheaded Bayern’s recent wins.
All numbers courtesy of transfermarkt.de and bundesliga.de.
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