So as stated in my last article All-Time La Liga XI, which you can find below, for the restart of the European leagues this week I have challenged myself to produce an all time starting XI with 3 subs for each of the top 5 leagues.
The rules are that I can pick any player who has played at least one full season in the specific league and can go back as far as the leagues creation. In this article, as the title suggests, I will pick my all time favourite players from the Bundesliga which was founded in 1963. The formation for this team will be a standard 4-4-2 and will consist of some of the greatest players to ever appear in the German top flight.
Goalkeeper – Oliver Kahn
Oliver Kahn, the German General, had an impressive 21 year career in the German top flight appearing for both Karlsruher SC and Bayern Munich, in which the latter he would retire with. Kahn is known for his passion when on the pitch and ability to never give up, the man is a winning machine and went as far as saving every penalty in a charity event against a group of kids and that was post retirement. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, not only in the Bundesliga but in the world. Germany have produced some of the greatest shot stoppers in the world but for me Kahn’s leadership, passion and overall ability in between the sticks makes him a shoe in for the starting role.
Winning the Bundesliga 8 times, the DFB Polka 6 times, The DFB Ligapolka 5 times and the Champions League/UEFA cup twice with Bayern Munich Kahn dominated club football for most of his senior career and dominated the German national team as well winning the Golden Ball award at the 2002 World Cup as the tournaments best player.
No other goalkeeper will feature in this list but I must give a honourable mention to Manuel Neure, the current Bayern Munich ‘sweeper keeper’ is one of the worlds best current goalkeepers and was widely regards as the worlds best for many years until a dip in form a few years ago. Manuel is a natural born winner and a fantastic heir to Oliver Kahn but due to the length of Kahn’s career and overall impact on German football he takes the first spot.
Right Back – Philipp Lahm
Another one of the greatest players to ever represent Bayern and Germany is the legendary right back Philipp Lahm. Lahm played for the Bayern Munich first team from 2002 until 2017 with a two year loan spell at Struttgart in between. In that time he played 588 games in the Bundesliga scoring 19 goals from the right hand side of the defence. Lahm would have an impressive career for both club and country, he was known for his versatility on the pitch as he was able to play as a right back or a holding midfielder. However, Lahm is mainly remembered for his right back role and that is the position he gets in this team.
The ever present German won an outstanding 8 Bundesliga titles, 6 DFB Polka titles, 3 DFL Supercups, 1 DFl Ligapolka and 1 Champions League as well as winning the World Cup with Germany in 2004. Philipp Lahm is considered one of the most professional and likely players to ever step out on a pitch and is respected by footballers and fans alike. An ever present player for the German top flight Lahm was always going to make this team.
Centre Backs – Lothar Matthäus and Franz Beckenbauer
Two centre backs who in this day and age would probably have played their full careers in midfield, both Lothar and Franz are considered as German footballing royalty. But for this list we’ll start by talking about Matthäus.
Matthäus played for both Bayern and Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga and played both as a midfielder and centre back but the decision to play him as a centre back will become apparent when we move onto the midfield. Matthäus had an incredible 21 year career spanning between Germany and Italy but he is mainly remembered for his incredible playing career in Germany. Playing 606 times whilst at German clubs and scoring 151 goals, Matthäus was known for his impeccable timing with regards to passing or tackling, powerful shot and incredible positioning, making him the most capped German footballer of all time. Holding the record for appearing at the most World Cups ever, 5, Lothar was regarded as ‘the best rival I’ve ever had’ by Diego Maradona in his autobiography.
Matthäus has won everything, with 7 Bundesliga titles, 3 DFB Polka trophies, 1 DFB Supercup, 3 DFB Ligapolka cups and 1 UEFA cup in club competition but also won the World Cup and European cup with Germany internationally. Many people will say the Matthäus is more of a midfielder but can operate as a centre back and has the ability to fit in to any position required.
Now onto Franz Beckenbauer.
Beckenbauer, also known as Der Kaiser (“The Emperor”), is one of the most classy centre backs to have ever played the game. His astonishing career lasted 29 years and during that run he played for both Bayern Munich and Hamburg for a combined total of 622 games with 75 goals. Beckenbauer modernised the game for centre backs with his ball carrying ability up there with some of the best wingers at the time. He would rarely lose the ball and still managed to cover his defensive duties with relative ease.
Having won the Bundesliga 5 times along with 4 DFB Polka cups, 3 European cups and both the World and European cup with West Germany, Beckenbauer is one of the most decorated defenders of all time. Named in the 20th century World XI and the all time Fifa World Cup XI how could he not also make the Bundesliga XI? The former two time European footballer of the year was a man before his time and would still manage to play in the top flight today if he was in his prime.
Left Back – Paul Breitner
I struggled picking this position as it was between 3 players, David Alaba, Bixente Lizarazu and the man I’m going with Paul Breitner. The controversial figure played for both Bayern Munich and Eintracht Braunschweig during his 13 year career as well as a stint in Spain with Real Madrid. I’m unable to find his full stats when it comes to appearances but Breitner played 285 games in the Bundesliga and scored 84 goals in total. But the former Bayern man was known for attacking threat, able to burst down the line and cause the opposition full backs issues he would also be found making last ditch challenges in the box. His overall play was very good and is another in the list that played both in defence and in midfield. Calm on the ball and with a fantastic shooting ability Breitner was another all round great player and could fit into any squad but for this squad he will play left back.
Winning 5 Bundesliga titles, 2 DFB Polka cups and the European cup with Bayern Munich, Breitner also won the European and World Cup with West Germany as well as being a runner up in 1982 competition. Not as widely remembered by fans outside of Germany Breitner deserves a lot of credit for his style of play which is still used to this day by modern full backs.
Right Midfield – Arjen Robben
Once the fastest man to ever play in the Bundesliga, the Netherlands international had to make this list due to the overall impact he had during his time at Bayern Munich. Robben was one of the quickest players to ever play in the league and his trademark cut inside and shooting ability with his left foot made him a fan favourite at Munich. Although Robben had his injury problems, mainly with his knees, he still preformed at a high level during his 10 year stay at Bayern. He would go on to play 309 games and score 144 goals for Munich becoming one half of the infamous ‘Robbery’ duo.
Robben would go on to win 8 Bundesliga’s, 5 DFB Polka’s, 5 DFL Supercup’s and 1 Champions League with Bayern and became a legend of Germsn league football. Due to his outstanding trophy cabinet and how devastating he was on the right hand side for Bayern, Robben easily makes this list. Linking up with former team mate Philipp Lahm on the right hand side, they were possibly the most dangerous wing pairing in German footballing history.
Centre Midfield – Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Ballack
Perhaps the toughest decision for this list is the midfield, Germany alone have produced some of the greatest midfielders of all time with the likes of Günter Netzer, Andreas Möller and Wolfgang Overath but Schweinsteiger and Ballack take the two midfield spots for me.
Schweinsteiger is another very well respected player from the Bundesliga, spending 13 years in the German top flight with Bayern Munich playing 500 games for them with only 68 goals. However, Bastian was regarded as one of the best midfielders of all time due to his tactical awareness, positioning, passing, tackling ability and also due to his ability to read and control the flow of the game. German coach Joachim Löw has referred to Schweinsteiger as one of the greatest players Germany has ever produced.
With 8 Bundesliga trophies, 7 DFB Polka cups, 1 DFB ligapolka cup, 1 DFL supercup and 1 Champions League during his time at Bayern, Schweinsteiger was also part of the 2014 German World Cup winning squad. Bastian was widely regarded as one of the most important contributors in Germany’s victorious campaign, playing an especially important role in defending Lionel Messi in the Final. Schweinsteiger was a fan favourite at Bayern and was usually called Fußballgott (football god) by Bayern’s fans.
Michael Ballack was another player that was highly regarded as one of Germany’s most incredible exports. Playing for 1. FC Kaiserslautern, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich before leaving to join Chelsea in the Premier League, Ballack played an amazing 324 games in the Bundesliga scoring 103 goals. Ballack was known for his passing range, powerful shot, physical strength and commanding presence in midfield.
Ballack would win the Bundesliga 4 times as well as 3 DFB Polka’s and one DFB Ligapolka but was unable to transfer this success into his international career as he finished 3rd in the 2006 World Cup and runner up in the 2002 competition. Still regarded as one of the best technical players of all time, Ballack will always be known for dominating midfield preformances.#
Left Midfield – Franck Ribéry
The second half of the ‘Robbery’ connection, Franck Ribéry is an obvious choice for this team. Playing 12 seasons at Bayern Munich with 425 appearances and 124 goals Franck made the switch to German football from France in 2007 and never looked back. Ribéry has been described as a player who is fast, tricky and an excellent dribbler, who has great control with the ball at his feet. A lethal playmaker inside and outside of the box Ribéry caused German defences huge amounts of probelms with his direct running from the left hand side and his killer instincts when in the final third.
He would go on to win 9 Bundesliga titles, 6 DFB Polka cups,1 DFB Ligapolka and 4 DFL Supercups while also winning one Champions League with Bayern. The former World Cup runner up made a huge impact over in the Bundesliga and is widely regarded as the best left midfielder to ever play in the competition, certainly the most successful. With his lightening pace down the left hand side and the back up play of Breitner in this side, most teams in world football would be unable to cope with the attacking threat.
Right Striker – Gerd Müller
Gerd Müller is one of the most lethal strikers to ever play in both the Bundesliga and on the international stage. A prolific striker renowned for his clinical finishing, especially in and around the six yard box, he is regarded as one of the greatest players and goalscorers of all time.
At international level with West Germany, he scored 68 goals in 62 appearances, and at club level, after 15 years with Bayern Munich, he scored a record 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games and an international record 66 goals in 74 European club games. Averaging more than a goal a game with West Germany, Müller is now 19th on the list of all time international goalscorers, despite playing fewer matches than every other player in the top 25. Among the top scorers, he has the third-highest goal-to-game ratio.
Nicknamed “Bomber der Nation” (“the nation’s bomber”) or simply “Der Bomber” Gerd would win 4 Bundesliga’s, 4 DFB Polka cups and 3 European cups as well as both European and World Cup with Germany internationally. Müller may possibly be the most lethal goal scorer of all time and would be a threat in any era of football.
Left Striker – Miroslav Klose
From one lethal striker to another, the record holder for most goals in the World Cup ever Klose is possibly one of the most underrated strikers of all time. Klose played for Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayer Munich in a Bundesliga career that lasted 12 years before his move to Lazio in 2011. Not known for his pace or dribbling ability Klose was the definition of a goal poacher, standing in and around the 18 yard box Klose would finish chances with relative ease no matter how hard the defence pressed or how tight the angle was. A dominate player in the air Klose would out muscle and jump nearly all defenders when challenging in the air giving him an extra advantage when it came to goal scoring.
Scoring 168 goals during his time in the German league he would go on to win the Bundesliga twice as well as DFB Polka twice, the DFB Ligapolka twice and the DFB Supercup once. With the likes of Ribéry and Robben providing the runs and dribbling ability the two strikers in this team would be the perfect players to help finish chances and create the right runs opening spaces for the two wide players to attack.
The first player to make this list who is still currently active is the polish striker Robert Lewandowski. Playing for both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, Lewandowski has enjoyed an impressive 10 year spell in the Bundesliga becoming one of the worlds most deadliest strikers. Being able to do it all Lewandowski uses his strength and aerial ability to beat defenders and his excellent finishing means that he is a threat from anywhere on the pitch. Although there is an argument to be made that he could possibly start in this side, for me with his career still unfolding he misses out.
The first player on this list who didn’t play for Bayern Munich, Vogts played his entire senior career with Borussia Mönchengladbach between 1965 to 1979. Vogts became one of the most reliable defenders in German football and would go on to earn an outstanding 96 caps for the international side, making him one of the most capped players of all time. He would play 526 games for Borussia Mönchengladbach scoring 42 goals in all competitions and would win the Bundesliga 5 times. He also has one DFB Polka cup and two UEFA cups the later of which came in his final season. The hardhitting centre back is not normally named when it comes to the dominating German players however, the leadership displayed and overall consistency of his game make him an easy choice for this list.
One that all Leeds United fan reading this will be happy to see is former Hamburg and Eintracht Frankfurt striker Tony Yeboah. Yeboah made the switch to German football in 1988 with 1. FC Saarbrücken and was one of the first black players to play in the Bundesliga. He was transferred to Eintracht Frankfurt in 1990, where he was at first booed by a section of fans and—being the first black player the team had ever signed—subjected to monkey-noises and other racist insults. In the Hesse metropolis, Yeboah quickly established himself as a deadly striker, silencing all critics, and became the first African Bundesliga club captain. He was the top Bundesliga scorer twice with Eintracht, in 1993 and 1994. Making 277 Bundesliga appearances with 67 goals, Yeboah made history by barriers and silencing critics with his outstanding play on the field. With veracious pace and quick feet Yeboah could easily leave a defender trailing and his finishing ability was world class. He was unable to pick up any trophies during his time in the Bundesliga but is still considered as one of the best players of all time.
That’s my team, let me know in the comments below who you think should make this team and who should be replaced.