2018/2019 Bundesliga Awards (September 2018)
So, here’s the Bundesliga’s rundown so far:
-Borussia Dortmund sit atop the table with 17 points from seven games; 10 of which were earned in September. -Ondrej Duda, a player who only scored once in 20 Bundesliga games coming into this season, is second in the league in scoring with five goals. This includes four goals in September, the most he has ever scored in a single month. -Jadon Sancho, in just the second professional season of his career, leads the Bundesliga in assists with six. This includes four assists in four appearances in September. -Last season’s runners-up, Schalke, lost four of their five September matches.
Yep, just as we all predicted.
With September having come and gone, it’s time again to relive all of the best Bundesliga moments from this special month. September is when most teams really start getting their gears going, and points dropped here tend to prove important later on in the season (unless you’re Bayern Munich, of course). With a September as thrilling as the one we just experienced, it’s time to do it justice through my monthly 2018/2019 Bundesliga awards.
What was your favourite September moment from the 2018/2019 Bundesliga?
Note: Only games played in September 2018 will be considered. All games played in other months will not be eligible for September’s awards, even if another game from the same matchday was played in September.
Best Player: Alassane Pléa (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
A rich number of Bundesliga players impressed in September. Ondrej Duda scored four goals in five matches, Jadon Sancho bagged an average of an assist-per-game through four September appearances, and Marco Reus displayed leadership, consistency, and a knack for scoring with three goals and two assists in four league games. You could a make a case for any of those three to be recognized as the player of the month and I wouldn’t disagree. But, I believe Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Alassane Pléa topped them all.
The 25-year old Frenchman has impressed in his first full month of Bundesliga action. He played five matches in September, ending the month with four goals and one assist. What separates Pléa from the other candidates is the fact that he didn’t close a single September game without registering either a goal or an assist. He scored in four of Mönchengladbach’s five matches this month, and in the only game that he didn’t score in, a 2-1 win over Schalke, Pléa bagged an assist on the game-winner. Speaking of which, all four of his markers were registered with the score tied or with his team behind. Alassane Pléa never failed to show up when his team needed a goal, and he posted a September that was unmatched by any of his peers.
Best Goalkeeper: Roman Bürki (Borussia Dortmund)
It seems that Marwin Hitz’s signing was just what Roman Bürki needed to finally find some consistent form. For the second month in a row, the Borussia Dortmund ‘keeper separated himself from the rest of his league counterparts with his regular play between the sticks. While many of his fellow shot-stoppers posted better single-game performances, no ‘keeper was more consistent throughout September than the 27-year old.
In four September appearances, Bürki went undefeated with a 3-1-0 record (wins-draws-losses). He kept one clean sheet and conceded just four goals in that span, only once allowing more than a goal in a game. The Swiss ‘keeper made an average of 2.5 saves per game, including two matches in which he made four stops. Bürki has displayed a level of solidity that he failed to live up to in the past, and if the first full month of Bundesliga football is anything to go by, he’s poised to post his best ever season with Borussia.
Best Goal: Alfreð Finnbogason (Augsburg) vs SC Freiburg
The 2018/2019 European club seasons have seen their fair share of spectacular back heel goals. Fabio Quagliarella scored a beautiful one when Sampdoria hosted Napoli in early September, Aaron Ramsey capped off a sexy sequence with a back heel in Arsenal's 5-1 win over Fulham this past weekend, and AS Roma had already scored three back heels of their own before the end of September. There has been a large quantity of back heel goals to pick from, but the one scored by Alfreð Finnbogason may just be the cream of the crop.
With Augsburg leading SC Freiburg 1-0, the Fuggerstädter's attack used some quick passing to find space inside the opponent's box. After Finnbogason freed some real-estate for himself in the centre, Jeffrey Gouweleeur delivered a clean ground-pass to the Icelandic international, who used his heel to flick the ball into the opposite corner of Alexander Schwolow's goal. The finish was his first of the 2018/2019 season in just his first league start, which was quite a way for Finnbogason to reintroduce himself. He would later score two more goals to complete a hat-trick and run away with the MOTM award.
Best Save: Lukáš Hrádecký (Bayer Leverkusen) vs Fortuna Düsseldorf
Lukáš Hrádecký's time with Bayer Leverkusen hasn't been as exceptional as it was expected to be. The 28-year old didn't make his Leverkusen debut until September 15, two games into the season, due to a cyst, and when he did, he was rattled for three goals in a loss to Bayern Munich. A few weeks later, Borussia Dortmund shipped four-straight goals passed him in a late-September loss. With all of that said though, it's not like he's had nothing to cheer about. Case in point: Hrádecký's save on Fortuna Düsseldorf's Rouwen Hennings.
In what would eventually play out to a 2-1 win, Hrádecký performed well for Bayer Leverkusen when they visited Düsseldorf in late September. His showing was highlighted by two massive first half saves; one in-close on Benito Raman and another on Rouwen Hennings. The latter was by far the best of the best. Rouwen Hennings hit a wondrous volley at the left edge of Hrádecký's box, but the Finnish 'keeper used a good starting position and a straight but strong right arm to deflect it wide. It was a well-timed save on a beautifully-struck attempt, and it later proved important in Leverkusen's victory.
Best Game: Borussia Dortmund 7-0 Nürnberg
Borussia Dortmund have been the 2018/2019 Bundesliga's most exciting team by far. The BVB sit atop the table with 17 points from seven games. They've drawn up a record of 5-2-0 (wins-draws-losses) and are currently the only undefeated team left in the competition. They've conceded just eight goals, which is the joint-third lowest in the league. They've also scored 23 goals, the only team in the current edition of the Bundesliga with over 20 goals scored. Seven of those goals came in their September 26 win over Nürnberg.
At that point, the BVB had only mustered up two wins from four games. They had looked inconsistent, sometimes dominating their opponents (4-1 win over RB Leipzig) and sometimes putting everyone to sleep (0-0 draw versus Hannover). They still proved intimidating enough to their visiting opponents Nürnberg, though. The BVB were able to pot 7 goals against the visitors, as they took full advantage of Nürnberg's lacklustre defending. Poor Fabian Bredlow could do little to prevent the massacre, and Dortmund's seven-goal thriller highlighted an exhilarating month of Bundesliga action.
Best Milestone: Manuel Neuer makes his 350th Bundesliga appearance
When Manuel Neuer stepped onto the pitch on September 22, the 2014 World Cup winner experienced something that few Bundesliga goalkeepers have ever gone through. That day, Manuel Neuer made his 350th appearance in the Bundesliga, joining an elite group of goalkeepers that includes Oliver Kahn, Sepp Maier, and Harald Schumacher. As if that wasn't enough, it came against his former club, Schalke.
Over his career, Manuel Neuer has established himself as arguably the greatest Bundesliga goalkeeper of all-time. He's featured in over 150 league games for two storied clubs in Schalke and Bayern Munich, and he's won silverware with both of them. Manuel Neuer has won the Bundesliga six times, all of which came between 2012 and 2018. He's made it to the league's TOTS three times (2014/2015, 2015/2016, and 2016/2017), and he even earned a top three nomination for the 2014 Ballon d'Or for his play. Manuel Neuer kept his 170th league clean sheet in the aforementioned match, and he currently owns the highest ever percentage of clean sheets in Bundesliga history.
Best Moment: Roman Weidenfeller's testimonial match
At the end of the 2017/2018 Bundesliga season, Roman Weidenfeller announced his retirement from professional football. The German goalkeeper had built a name for himself as a 21st century Bundesliga legend, with 355 Bundesliga appearances (349 of which came with Borussia Dortmund) and two league titles to show for it. Weidenfeller only made one start that season, a 4-4 draw in the Revierderby, but Borussia Dortmund didn’t forget the impact he had on their team and in the league. In early September, the BVB organized a testimonial for the 2014 World Cup winner to send their farewells. He’s only the eighth Dortmund player to have a testimonial organized in his honour.
The game, which was played between the BVB Allstars and Weidenfeller and Friends, was a successful send-off for Weidenfeller. 70,000 fans packed Westfalenstadion to say goodbye to their former captain, who played a half for each side. In the first half, Weidenfeller featured for the Weidenfeller and Friends team, making two saves, including a vintage diving stop on Antônio da Silva. In the second half, Weidenfeller switched over to the BVB Allstars, with whom he stopped two penalties and scored two goals. To end the day, Weidenfeller went into the Yellow Wall to say his final goodbye to the Dortmund ultras. Danke Roman Weidenfeller!