Premier League stars Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku were the headline players in previous TOTW articles, but the focus goes abroad this time around. Borussia Dortmund overcame Hoffenheim in a dramatic affair on Friday night whilst Real Madrid kept somewhat of a rare clean sheet. The two both are players featuring in the third TOTW of the season!
GK- Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid
Real Madrid conceded in their season opener as they beat Alaves before playing out a highly entertaining 3-3 draw with Levante last weekend. Off the back of this, it would have been a welcome clean sheet for Carlo Ancelotti on his return to the capital. Belgian giant Thibaut Courtois is always an imposing figure between the sticks and this narrow win over Betis was no different. Courtois made six saves with an xG of 0.59 and in a tight game separated only by Dani Carvajal’s neat finish after about an hour, this was instrumental. He has the gloves for this TOTW!
LB- Dan Butler, Peterborough
From Seville to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have had mixed fortunes on their return to the Championship. They performed superbly from back to front on Saturday night against a far superior West Brom side. Semi Ajayi scored the only goal of the game at the death to further the Baggies’ impressive start to the season under Valerien Ismael, but that shouldn’t take away from Peterborough’s performance. Goalkeeper Christy Pym as well as defender Dan Butler stood out at the back, the latter completing the most passes and generally putting in a great shift.
CB- Liam Cooper, Leeds United
Liam Cooper has always been a true warrior and leader at the back for Leeds no matter what league they’re in. the Scotsman along with Luke Ayling is quite age-defying in truth given the ferocity of Bielsa’s tactics. He had a tough job up against Burnley duo Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood on the weekend and he passed with flying colours. Cooper made four clearances and won five aerial duels. Leeds may not have kept a clean sheet but the work of their skipper was crucial to a hard-earned point, topping it off with a spot in the TOTW.
CB- Andreas Christensen, Chelsea
Burnley vs Leeds wasn’t the only 1-1 draw in the Premier League as a pair of title challengers fought it out at Anfield. Chelsea had the lead thanks to Kai Havertz but a controversial red card for Reece James paired with Salah converting the resulting penalty changed the game completely. The Blues were up against it but Tuchel’s men held on thanks to a resolute performance in defence. Andreas Christensen was at the heart of this, the Dane and his comrades shutting out Liverpool wave-after-wave.
RB- Daniel Lovitz, Nashville SC
Nashville are surprising everyone by flying so high but prior to this weekend, they were yet to win a game on the road. They travelled to the Benz to play Atlanta United in Gonzalo Pineda’s first game as manager following a successful interim spell for Rob Valentino. Daniel Rios scored at the end of the first half before Randall Leal put the game beyond reasonable doubt with the clock in the red, fullback Daniel Lovitz assisting the opener. Lovitz played as a right wing-back in this one and so he didn’t play much of a defensive role. Along with this assist though his pass accuracy was 83% and he played a big role in Nashville getting out of their rut away from home.
CM- Matteo Guendouzi, Marseille
Times have been tough for Frenchman Matteo Guendouzi but this stress may be behind him as he is enjoying life with Marseille, far away from the dreaded Emirates. This team under Jorge Sampaoli is an intriguing one in general and although there are a number of new arrivals, Guendouzi included, the season has got off to a promising start. The midfielder already had an assist to his name this term and he added a goal to that on Saturday night in an impressive 3-1 win over Saint Etienne. He isn’t known for his goalscoring but he was named Man of the Match in this one and rightly so, this going beyond just his goal and he was a TOTW shoe-in.
CM- Jude Bellingham, Borussia Dortmund
From one young midfielder to another and life really couldn’t be much better for Jude Bellingham at the moment. He played a record-breaking role in England’s glorious Euro 2020 campaign and has continued on a similar vein of form in a Dortmund shirt. It was a back-and-forth game between Marco Rose’s side and Hoffenheim, first blood being struck by USMNT star Gio Reyna. Bellingham also got in on the act before Erling Haaland scored a last gasp winner in dramatic fashion. The trio all play well beyond their years and Bellingham in particular was excellent, dictating play with the ball at his feet.
AM- Jamal Musiala, Bayern Munich
Onto a rival of Dortmund’s and Bellingham isn’t the only Bundesliga player of interest to English onlookers. Jamal Musiala represents Germany and did so in the summer but spent the majority of his youth career with Chelsea. To get a chance at Bayern at sixteen/seventeen, he is now eighteen, is no mean feat and he continues to level up. It was a rout for Nagelsmann’s men over Hertha Berlin and a certain Pole will be spoken about later. For now though, Musiala is under the microscope and although he was withdrawn for Leroy Sane on the hour mark, it was a very mature outing for him once again and he makes the TOTW.
LW- Brian Rodriguez, LAFC
Back to MLS and El Trafico really lived up to expectations as always. There was no Carlos Vela for LAFC and whereas Diego Rossi is normally the one expected to step up, it was another Uruguayan wide-man. Brian Rodriguez struggled on loan at Almeria in the Segunda division and his promise remains to be exactly that, promise and untapped potential. Dejan Joveljic scored twice for the Galaxy, his first two goals since moving to California, and Rodriguez opened his account on the season too. He put Bob Bradley’s LAFC 2-1 up with a sensational goal- footwork and a powerful finish worthy of goal of the season, before then restoring the lead again. It was one of the few times that we have seen Rodriguez deliver on what is expected from him.
RW- Cengiz Under, Marseille
Guendouzi isn’t the only Marseille man to feature after a second win on the season for Sampaoli’s men. USMNT winger Konrad de la Fuente has been on great form and the same can be said for Cengiz Under. Under is on loan from Roma after spending last season with Leicester and he has three goals already, more than he managed at the King Power. You always know Under wants to cut in on his stronger left foot but stopping him is a different question entirely- he is in the TOTW!
ST- Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich
Haaland and Lukaku are the two previous players to lead the line for the TOTW so there are big shoes to fill, but Bayern’s talisman does more than that. As previously mentioned, it was a 5-0 win for the Bavarian giants last time out and three of those came from Robert Lewandowski. Even with injuries he broke Gerd Muller’s single-season goalscoring record last campaign and even at his age, he continues to be one of the best finishers on the planet. Lewandowski doesn’t have to be influential for all 90 minutes as he can pop up with a goal at any moment, this triple being a prime example of that.