After scoring five goals in the first two games of the 2020/21 season, Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric has been named the Bundesliga Player of the Month for September. The official "Player of the Month" award has been created by DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga in cooperation with the Bundesliga's official licence partner EA SPORTS.
Andrej Kramaric was unstoppable in September. The TSG Hoffenheim forward shot to the top of the scoring charts with five goals in just the first fortnight of the season, setting not only a new club record for such a precocious point of the season, but posting an impressive tally bettered only once in the history of the Bundesliga. Indeed the Croatian forward fell just one goal short of matching the record set by Bundesliga legend Gerd Müller of six goals over the opening two matchdays of the 1977/78 season.
His haul came of no surprise to his new Hoffenheim coach Sebastian Hoeneß, however. "He's an extraordinary footballer," said the former coach of Bayern Munich's reserves, and who can doubt that when faced with the facts? Kramaric converted 75 per cent of his big chances in September, while the 29-year-old peppered the goal with more shots (13) than any other player in the Bundesliga this month, helping lift Hoffenheim, provisionally, to the top of the league for the first time since Matchday 1 of the 2014/15 season.
The other nominees
"Leroy's incredibly quick, he knows where the goal is and is capable of creating goals too," said Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka of the new sharp arrow in the Bavarians' quiver. "He's the man for the big occasion." Bayern brought the Germany international back to the Bundesliga from Manchester City in the summer, and he did not delay in making an impact with a dream second Bundesliga debut.
Against his former club Schalke, Sane had a direct hand in three of the eight goals, scoring one and setting up two. Only Kramaric was involved in more goals in September than Sane. Meanwhile, no other Bayern player delivered as many shots on goal as the 24-year-old, who set up a further six shots for his teammates. "I want to show I can be relied upon fully," Sane said after moving to Munich, and he let his actions speak louder than those words in this, his first month back.
Joshua Kimmich simply does not cease to amaze, and the fact he was the only Bayern outfield player to go the whole duration of their first two Bundesliga fixtures speaks volumes about how important he has become for the record champions. After providing two assists on Matchday 1 against Schalke, the 25-year-old scored Bayern's consolation in a 4-1 defeat to Hoffenheim on Matchday 2 in spectacular fashion. Like teammate Sane, he therefore had a hand in three of Bayern's nine goals in the month.
Now established in the centre of the midfield, Kimmich is the beating heart of this Bayern team. Only Borussia Dortmund's Emre Can had more touches of the ball (236) than Kimmich's 215, and with those, he set up more chances for his team than any of his colleagues. "We want to prove that we belong up there permanently," Kimmich said of Bayern's objectives for the season. With his own performances, there can be no doubt about that.
Serge Gnabry hit the ground running this season, scoring his first hat-trick in the Bundesliga in Bayern's season-opening 8-0 win over Schalke. As a result, the 25-year-old was in the rare position of being ahead of Robert Lewandowski as Bayern's top-scorer, while he was second in the Bundesliga scoring charts behind Kramaric, together with Werder Bremen's Niclas Füllkrug with three goals in the month of September.
"If you follow the progress Serge has made over recent years, not only at Bayern but also with the Germany national team, then you've got to say he's close to becoming world class," said Bayern coach Hansi Flick, himself in awe of Gnabry's performances. No Bayern player had more than Gnabry's six shots on goal over the first two weeks of the campaign, and that means he converted one in two – itself already a world class statistic.
There was a hole in the Bremen attack on Matchday 1, due to a hole in one of Füllkrug's teeth which meant he could only watch on from the bench as the northerners fell to Hertha Berlin. Bremen had fine dentistry to thank for giving their team much more bite on Matchday 2, though, with Füllkrug filling the goalscoring void with a hat-trick almost single-handedly seeing off Schalke.
"I just had a gut feeling," said Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt of his decision to field the convalescent Füllkrug on his return from Matchday 1's teething problems. "For once, my gut got lucky." Füllkrug did not have to do anything special to convince his coach, saying "you always know what you're going to get with me," and that is reflected in his statistics: nine shots on goal – the second highest in the Bundesliga over the first two matchdays – and three goals, also the second highest in the league together with Bayern's Gnabry.
What a dream start to life in the Bundesliga for Sasa Kalajdzic! The VfB Stuttgart forward marked his debut in Germany's top flight with a goal, adding another plus an assist a week later in the Swabians' 4-1 win over Mainz. The 23-year-old therefore has already had a hand in three goals this season, with only Hoffenheim's Kramaric contributing to more over the first two matchdays.
The Austrian has also had the most shots for Stuttgart this season, despite being subbed in and out in their opening two games, while the giant forward has won 67 per cent of his aerial duels, even though both of his goals came with his feet. His coach Pellegrino Matarazzo is convinced more is to come from his 6'6" (two metre-tall) striker. "He's developed well, he's got a good eye for goal and he's a great lad – I'm happy with him," he said. Hardly surprising in view of his immediate impact on the Bundesliga.