A team with James Rodriguez, Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Robert Lewandowski? We must be dreaming. - © DFL
A team with James Rodriguez, Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Robert Lewandowski? We must be dreaming. - © DFL

James Rodriguez, Jadon Sancho and Der Klassiker Dream Team


Manuel Akanji finds Thiago… his pass picks out Jadon Sancho… one-two with Marco Reus… inside for James, through to Robert Lewandowski! The 100th Bundesliga Klassiker between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund on Saturday sees some of the biggest talents in European football go head-to-head, but what if they were playing with each other?

bundesliga.com has a vivid imagination, and has conjured up the mouthwatering thought of how the creme de la creme of the players on show would slot into one simply phenomenal line-up.

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer

It is an accepted truth that Neuer isn't the goalkeeper he was before the foot injury that might even have deprived us of his talents all together. Still, the 33-year-old remains the man seen as the best of the best for both club and country. If Bayern have squeezed up on Dortmund, it was thanks in large part to four wins in four league outings - before the draw at Freiburg - in which they have conceded just one goal, and who do you think had a hand - or probably more likely two - in that?

Watch: Neuer's top five saves!

Right-back: Joshua Kimmich

Injury may deprive Lukasz Piszczek of the opportunity to rival Kimmich, who is quite rapidly becoming the man whose boots he has filled at Bayern: Philipp Lahm. Germany's 2014 FIFA World Cup-winning captain left a void in the record champions' side, but Kimmich's emergence has raised the mouthwatering prospect he could fill it and then some. Only Jadon Sancho has more assists in the Bundesliga this season, and he's an attacker, not a full-back. The defence rests… on Kimmich.

"You shall not pass!" - Bayern's Bundesliga opponents haven't found it easy to get past Niklas Süle (2nd l.) and Joshua Kimmich (r.) this term. - 2018 DFL

Centre-back: Niklas Süle

Well, that is not entirely true, because if ever there was a central defender built to be the cornerstone of a back four, it is Süle. At 6'4" and 213 pounds, the Germany international has the physique of an NFL linebacker, but his juggernaut build - which he can haul at a prodigious pace too - belies the silky touch and keen vision of a quarterback. His 93 per cent pass completion ratio is Tom Brady-esque while his surgical challenges win him the ball over two-thirds of the time at the expense of just 12 free-kicks in over 2,000 Bundesliga minutes this term. Awe. Some.

Centre-back: Manuel Akanji

Just over a year into his Bundesliga career following his January 2018 move from Basel, Akanji is leaving no-one in any doubt as to why Dortmund were so keen to snap him up. The five-game winless streak Lucien Favre's men endured around the turn of the year ended promptly with the return from injury of the Switzerland international, who is as precise with a pass as Süle, tallies an impressive 61 per cent of challenges won, and whose effect on his teammates is tangible. "It's very important that Manuel is fit again," said defensive partner Dan-Axel Zagadou. "He has a great influence on the team. We need him."

Dortmund have won 13 of their 17 Bundesliga games this term with Switzerland centre-back Manuel Akanji (r.) in the side. - 2018 DFL

Left-back: David Alaba

The Austrian himself would probably admit this has not been his best season in a Bayern shirt, but what Alaba would qualify as 'average', most Bundesliga players would happily accept as their optimum level of performance. Two goals and two assists is a low return for the Austria international, though all but one of those has come since the turn of the year, suggesting more profitable times lie ahead. Abdou Diallo and Achraf Hakimi ran the Bayern man close for his place in this team. The France Under-21 and Moroccan internationals, both bought to be used in other positions but most recently used a left-back, share that rare versatility that makes them and Alaba such precious commodities.

Central midfielder: Axel Witsel

Every team needs a spine, and Witsel has shown he can help provide the stiffest backbone of all. Written off in some quarters following his spell in China, the Belgium international has roared back onto the European scene with a rare vengeance. "The best investment in European football," was how Belgium coach Roberto Martinez described Witsel when his switch to Dortmund was announced, and BVB have reaped a ten-fold return. His 93 per cent pass completion rate has had Dortmund ticking back to front this season, while he and 'doppelsechs' counterpart Thomas Delaney have drawn a near-impermeable iron curtain in front of the back four.

Axel Witsel has quickly become one of the most important players at Borussia Dortmund. - Thomas Eisenhuth / Getty Images / DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Central midfielder: Thiago

If Pep Guardiola thought the Spain international was the essential player to add to the Bayern side he inherited in 2013 on the back of an unprecedented treble, who are we to argue? Delaney has been excellent for BVB, but Thiago operates on another level to the Denmark international. A measly eight per cent of his passes do not find their target, and given most of his balls are played vertically rather than horizontally, that is a ratio verging on the superhuman. After a below-par Hinrunde, the ex-Barcelona prodigy is finding his stride with an assist in each of his last three Bundesliga games. "He is a very, very capable footballer who has everything needed to become a great," said Bastian Schweinsteiger after getting a first glimpse of Thiago's talents six years ago. Bayern's 'Fußballgott' wasn't wrong.

Spanish string-puller Thiago (r.) has missed four Bundesliga games this season, and Bayern failed to win all four. - 2019 Getty Images

Right winger: Jadon Sancho

From promising youngster to England international in one, made-to-look easy step. Sancho was billed as a player with talent to burn when he left Manchester City for Dortmund in summer 2017, and the flammable fledgeling hasn't disappointed, setting the German top flight alight this season. His league-high 13 assists say everything you need to know about the London-born teenager, who has made a mockery of his tender 19 years in the big boys' playground that is the Bundesliga.  Bayern have their fair share of quality wide men, but injury has laid low Arjen Robben, and in the face of any other competition, Serge Gnabry would have been included. But Sancho isn't just any other competition.

Watch: The Jadon Sancho story

Left winger: James Rodriguez

The Colombia international is one of the planet's best exponents of the art of the final ball, and no 4-2-3-1 formation would be complete without a deft, artful, creative and elegant number 10. James ticks all those boxes. In the second season of his loan from Real Madrid, the ex-Porto and Monaco man's future in Bayern colours remains uncertain, but there are no question marks over his quality. If there were, the fact he has had a hand in seven Bayern goals in his last six Bundesliga matches should remove them.

No.10: Marco Reus

The Dortmund captain's career will always be accompanied by the 'what ifs' provoked by his woeful luck with injury, but even without the serious setbacks — missing the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a ghastly 11th-hour injury being the most heart-rending of them all — Reus' career statistics are the stuff of FIFA 19 players' fantasy. At 29, he has allied maturity and experience to his in-built raw talent to produce a potent blend, and arguably the best football of his career has translated into 15 goals and six assists in just 22 Bundesliga outings this term. Kingsley Coman could develop into the sort of player Reus has become with time, but the Bayern man is — for the time being — at best two-dimensional; Reus is the complete package.

Watch: All 15 of Reus' goals so far in 2018/19!

Striker: Robert Lewandowski

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Alex Meier, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang… Lewandowski has seen challengers come and then go while he keeps doing what he does best: plundering goals en route to the Torjägerkanone as the Bundeliga's leading scorer. Luka Jovic of Eintracht Frankfurt and Reus are this season's pretenders to the crown, but trail Bayern's prolific Pole in the scoring charts by three goals and Lewandowski is only just reaching cruising altitude. He has found the net eight times since the turn of the year — five times more than Jovic, four better than Reus — and usually enjoys his meetings with the club where he made his name, scoring eight times in his last four league encounters with his old flame. Dortmund have been warned… not that they should be needing it.

Bayern's Robert Lewandowski is closing on 200 Bundesliga goals - could he reach the milestone against former club Dortmund? - Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images