Bundesliga GK Spotlight - Part Two
In Part One we looked at the Bundesliga GK's occupying the top 6 positions in the league, now we move focus to mid table where it's all to play for...
SC Freiburg - Alexander Schwolow
The twenty-seven-year-old German, Alexander Schwolow was in inspired form in Freiburg’s 1-1 draw away to RB Leipzig and has been a key figure since his club’s promotion back to the top flight in 2016.
Having never won the Bundesliga or DFB Pokal, Freiburg are one of the less fashionable clubs in Germany’s top-flight, Schwolow has been unlucky not to win a cap for Germany having played a key role in his clubs’ reestablishment in the Bundesliga.
Schwolow was outstanding in Freiburg’s shock qualification for the Europa League in the first season back in the Bundesliga in 2016/17 and they are in contention for repeating that feat this time around as they sit 7th, two points behind Wolfsburg.
Despite missing two months of the season with a torn muscle, Schwolow has started 17 times this season and will likely start again in Freiburg’s clash with struggling Werder Bremen on Saturday.
Schalke - Marcus Schubert
Schalke’s first choice up until the winter-break, Alexander Nubel has a pre-contract agreement to join Bayern Munich at the end of the season. As a result, David Wagner has thrust twenty-one-year-old Markus Schubert into the spotlight.
Schubert appeared to really struggle with the pressure, and whilst he was far from the only culprit in a dismal team-performance, his poor distribution led to Dortmund’s second in a crushing 4-0 defeat to their Ruhr rivals.
The young German will desperate to make amends in Sunday’s match against Augsburg and prove that Wagner needn’t delve into the transfer market ahead of Nubel’s departure in the summer.
Schalke are still within reach of a Europa League place despite a continuation of the dismal winter form, which saw them win just once in eight games even before their defeat at Signal Iduna Park. Schubert is likely to have a more comfortable afternoon at home to Augsburg, but will need to ensure he does not repeat the same errors.
Hoffenheim - Oliver Baumann
A remarkable success story of German football, the tiny village side participated in the Champions League last season and Oliver Baumann has been the club’s number one since 2014.
Although they will not reach the heights they have enjoyed in recent seasons, Hoffenheim in 9th place are still two points behind Freiburg in 7th and a potential place in the Europa League.
Having starred for Germany at every single junior level, the twenty-nine year old has barely missed a game for Hoffenheim in six years, a stalwart of the club’s most successful period.
Hoffenheim suffered a shock 3-0 defeat at home to Hertha Berlin and must get back on track away to bottom-side Paderborn on Saturday, or risk falling further behind the pack for a European place.
FC Koln - Timo Horn
Timo Horn has spent his entire career at his hometown club and has been ever-present as the club; featured in Europe, were disastrously relegated from the Bundesliga and bounced back at the first attempt, in what has been a turbulent few years for The Billy Goats.
This season has been in keeping with a rollercoaster period for the club, with the arrival of manager Markus Gisdol in November transforming Koln into relegation strugglers into contention for the top-half.
You may remember Timo Horn from Koln’s Europa League fixture with Arsenal in 2018, the very year they were relegated, and the German keeper will be looking for a strong finish to build a potential challenge for a European place next season.
Horn will be reeling from Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Mainz in which they threw away a two-goal lead, but will have an opportunity to put it right at home to relegation-threatened Dusseldorf.
Hertha Berlin - Rune Jarstein
Another of Scandinavia’s finest, the Norway and Hertha Berlin number one, Rune Jarstein is in his seventh season in the German capital, establishing himself as Hertha’s number one in the 2015/16 season.
The consistency of Jarstein, the second most-capped goalkeeper in Norway’s history, has been symbolic of Hertha’s new-found stability in Germany’s top-flight, where they have been perennial strugglers for much of the century.
Jarstein enjoyed a clean sheet in his first game back since the re-start as Hertha strolled to a 3-0 win at Hoffenheim.
Hertha will play city rivals Union Berlin on Friday evening, as the German capital anticipates its first ever Bundesliga derby since reunification, but of course will do so without spectators.
Union Berlin - Rafael Gikiewicz
Not having to wait long for Hertha’s Eastern city rivals, Rafeal Gikiewicz is Union Berlin’s Polish goalkeeper, who was ever-present last season in Union’s promotion from Bundesliga.2, has also played every game in a very respectable inaugural campaign.
Gikiewicz has played in the Bundesliga previously with Freiburg, but enjoys cult-status at the club who are playing their first ever season in the top-flight.
Gikiewicz, who received his first call-up for the Poland squad during Euro 2020 qualification, was up against it early on when facing the all-conquering Bayern Munich on Sunday, facing a penalty from the potent Robert Lewandowski in the first-half.
Union kept the score down to a very respectable 2-0 and you can’t help but think it would have been a different story for the champions had Union’s fanatical and unrelenting support been present.
Make no mistake, the big one is this Friday and Union will need Gikiewicz when they face Hertha at the famous Olympic Stadium, who they can overtake with victory.