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Sports

Ibisevic, Hoffenheim Lead Bundesliga Top Eleven

With plenty of players performing well, it was difficult for DW-World to single out the individuals who made the biggest difference in the first half of the season. One pick, however, was blindingly obvious.

Vedad Ibisevic celebrates a goal

Ibisevic has had Hoffenheim celebrating all season

Strikers

There are no-brainers, and then there are no-no-no-brainers. Vedad Ibisevic is one of the latter. Not only do his 18 goals put him on track to challenge Gert Mueller's single-season scoring record, he has 7 assists to boot. The Bosnian is the league's clear MVP thus far and the biggest reason Hoffenheim are the surprise table-toppers.

Our second striker may be something of a surprise: Bielefeld's Artur Wichniarek. Others have scored more often, but the Pole's 10 goals have come for a defensively oriented, bottom-of-the-table team. And they were potential life-saver as well. Without them Bielefeld would be on a measly seven points.

Honorable mentions: Ba (Hoffenheim), Grafite (Wolfsburg), Helmes (Leverkusen), Petric (Hamburg)

Midfielders

Munich's Franck Ribery, left, and Schalke's Ivan Rakitic challenge for the ball

God only knows where Bayern would be without Ribery


His dominance may not show up in the individual statistics, but if you're looking for the one top playmaker in the league, Bayern's Frank Ribery is your man. Munich began a mediocre 2-3-2 with the Frenchman injured. Since he's been back in the starting line-up, Bayern are undefeated and tied on points at the top of the league.

Wolfsburg have disappointed expectations somewhat, but Zvjezdan Misimovic can't be faulted for that. In his first season for his new club, he's played in every Bundesliga match, scoring 5 goals and assisting on 10 others. The only way he could top that would be to teach his teammates how to win away from home.

Free kicks are an art form, and the midfielder opposing defenses least want to see lining up for them is Hoffenheim's Sejad Salihovic. With 4 goals and 8 assists, he's become the league's leading specialist in this area, and he's also developed into a fine one-on-one player, capable of winning balls and kick-starting Hoffenheim's high-octane attack.

Hertha Berlin's Cicero is another battler who seems to be everywhere on the pitch at one time. In his first season in Germany, he's become a mainstay, playing all but 21 minutes of Hertha's league games. He's also an offensive threat, having scored five goals, most of them on headers after sneaking into opponents' penalty areas.

Honorable mentions: Augusto (Leverkusen), Kacar (Hertha), Eduardo (Hoffenheim), Khedira (Stuttgart)


Defense

Munich player Franck Ribery, right, and Hoffenheim player Andreas Beck, left, challenge for the ball

...but the Frenchman was stymied by Hoffenheim youngster Andreas Beck


At the back, we'll start with Hoffenheim's Andreas Beck. The 21-year-old was the league leaders' only major addition this season, but if there were any questions that he's headed for a very bright future, he answered them in Hoffenheim's match against Bayern, in which he tied no less than Ribery into frustrated knots.

Last year Dortmund had one of the worst defenses in the league. This season, they're second best, and much of the credit must go to Neven Subotic who's come up big in the middle. Subotic can also get up the field. He's scored 5 goals – not shabby for a central defender – and two of them have been game winners.

Schalke have disappointed, but that's down to their inability to convert chances. The Royal Blues still have the league's best defense, and the heart of their back four is Marcelo Bordon. If Schalke do manage to recover and challenge at top, they can thank their big man in the middle.

Bayern's Philipp Lahm has been hampered by injuries, but there's no overlooking his value to the defending champions. The goal he scored against Hoffenheim got Bayern back into that crucial match, and he's the one player in the league who consistently attracts the attention of top clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Honorable mentions: Simunic (Hertha), Compper (Hoffenheim), Lucio (Bayern), Ze Roberto (Bayern)

Jaroslav Drobny

Drobny has been THE man between posts


Goal

Hertha's Jaroslav Drobny is anything but the prototype of the modern, offensive goalkeeper. But he's stopped a higher percentage of shots than anyone in the league, and his performances against a number of foes have secured Berlin wins in games they probably should have lost. Without him, Berlin would be nowhere near the top three.

Honorable mentions: Weidenfeller (Dortmund), Rost (Hamburg)

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