Cologne - After a seven-game winless run, FC Schalke 04 are now brimming with confidence following two victories on the bounce and it is no surprise that their upturn in results has coincided with the return of Mr. Reliable at the back: Atsuto Uchida.
The Japanese international made his long-awaited return from injury in the 3-0 win at SV Werder Bremen last week, but for many supporters it will be the latest success - a 2-1 triumph in the Revierderby against local rivals Borussia Dortmund - that marked his definitive return to Germany’s top flight in 2014/15. His was a performance of industry and energy in a game of massive stakes, and it made him the standout winner of bundesliga.com’s Player of Matchday 6 poll.
Uchida is a relative veteran of derby fixtures - last Saturday was the seventh time he has turned out for the Royal Blues against BVB - and he displayed all of his experience in helping his side see out the three points. Early goals from Joel Matip and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had put Schalke 2-0 up, with a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal proving insufficient to deny the Royal Blues a first home win against Borussia in four seasons.
Winning 72 per cent of his tackles and covering 10.2 kilometres, bundesliga.com users voted overwhelmingly for Uchida as their player of the week, the 26-year-old taking a whopping 55 per cent of the vote. He also outshone his compatriot on the opposing side Shinji Kagawa, who came off the bench for his fifth derby appearance, but could make little impact as Schalke equalled Dortmund's record of 30 Revierderby wins
In second place was FC Bayern München’s Xabi Alonso (33 per cent), who enjoyed a record 204 touches in the champions' win at 1. FC Köln, while Roman Bürki (12 per cent) came third after his goalkeeping heroics helped SC Freiburg take a point from their clash with ten-man Bayer 04 Leverkusen.