Goal number eleven of his debut Bundesliga season from was enough to secure Hamburger SV victory at Stuttgart on Sunday and three more precious points towards a return to the European stage next season. Rudnevs came on board for the Red Shorts last summer, arriving from Lech Poznan on the back of a 25-goal campaign that saw him crowned the Polish league's top scorer. The Latvian international, now 25, has featured in every one of Hamburg's Bundesliga matches this season, the bulk of them from the start, and in the interim his partnership with Heung-Min Son up front has become one of the most effective in the top flight. Something of an insider tip on his arrival in the Hanseatic port city, Rudnevs has all the makings of one of the German professional game's new stars.
As far as the standings go, there's little doubt about the most eye-catching fixture of Matchday 26, with third-place Bayer Leverkusen hosting league leaders Bayern Munich in the late Saturday kick-off. True, with 21 points separating the sides in the visitors' favour, the tension for this one may be a little short of fever pitch, but quite aside from further valuable points towards Champions League qualification, Bayer are in the unique position of having the opportunity to complete a season double over the otherwise nigh-on invincible men from Munich. This after a late strike by Sidney Sam wrapped up a 2-1 victory at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 9, earning Leverkusen the rarest of maximum hauls in the Bavarian capital. Needless to say, that is a blemish on a near-spotless record that this FC Bayern team will be itching to correct at the BayArena - where they can expect another tough examination from their confident hosts.
He has indubitably had his ups and downs since swapping Marseille for Munich in 2007, but for Franck Ribery the current campaign marks a return to the gold standard of his first season at FC Bayern, which ended with him being voted Player of the Year in both Germany and his native France. Just shy of his 30th birthday, the wing wizard is playing an integral role in what is shaping up to be the greatest Bayern team of the modern era, chipping in with six goals and nine assists so far as the record champions hurtle from one Bundesliga best-mark to the next. Palpably enjoying a new lease of life under the careful mentoring of veteran head coach Jupp Heynckes and a particularly fruitful partnership down the left with young gun David Alaba, Ribery is again underscoring his credentials as one of the German game's stars of genuine world standing.