If the Bundesliga table doesn't lie – and the table is as honest as the season is long – the two best teams in Germany meet this Sunday in a top-of-the-table clash which not only fans of Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig will be glued to.
But what do you get if you combine the best two teams and attempt to make one ultimate starting XI. Well, bundesliga.com has tried to do just that…
The undisputed No1 of all No1s for well over a decade, Neuer continues – even into his 30s – to set the bar for budding goalkeepers the world over. His practically patented sweeper-keeper style has completely overhauled his trade, with him at its head as the ultimate expert. While he may have had fewer saves to make this season (53) than many of his Bundesliga goalkeeping fraternity, his mere presence is enough to put opposition strikers off, while his skills with the ball at his feet not only make him the first line in Bayern's attack, but almost saw him fielded as a midfielder by former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, according to CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. He would surely not have looked out of place there, as he doesn't at the back of our combined XI.
Watch: Oliver Kahn compares Manuel Neuer and Peter Gulacsi
Even Joachim Löw is convinced that Klostermann is the best right-back with a German passport, and who could possibly dispute that? Taking Neuer's sweeper-keeper notion onto an outfield level, Klostermann has grouped all four positions across the defence and rebranded them as one: an Alleskönner, as the Germans may say – somebody who can do it all. Arguably most at home in the full-back position, where he can really extend his wings and do some damage with his blistering pace, he has such a physical presence when Leipzig are on the back foot that opposition wingers and forwards don't even get close to taking him on as he keeps them comfortably at bay.
Being a central defender nowadays is not just about flexing your muscles, puffing out your chest and barring your opponents' route to goal – all things Upamecano can allegedly do in his sleep – but it is also about what to do when you do get the ball at your feet. Jerome Boateng and Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels have both refined the quarterback role, but both would be impressed with Upamecano's distribution skills, which have given him a rating of 91 per cent in terms of his pass success rate. An attack-impeder and attack-initiator: Upamecano can do it all.
Speaking of an Alleskönner, what about Alaba? Not only has he covered all the bases across the back line, he has looked equally at ease further up the field, and his set-piece prowess is second to none. Originally a full-back, Alaba has slotted into a variety of roles before answering Bayern's call for a new central defender amid an injury crisis, doing so well that people are starting to ask where Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Süle might fit back in when they return from long injury absences. Alaba has delivered 92 per cent of his passes successfully, but then given the accuracy of his pinpoint free-kicks and corners, finding a teammate comes as easily as lacing his boots.
Notice something of a trend? Versatility seems to be quite a solid characteristic of our top players, and Davies is another who ticks that box. Signed by Bayern from the Vancouver Whitecaps as a winger, and destined to fill the huge boots left by Arjen Robben's retirement, Davies has been remodelled – first by Canada, and then by Bayern – as one of the best full-backs in the game. His dynamism and natural propensity to push forward do not detract from his defensive diligence, and since his pace and timing more than match that of many of the Bundesliga's wingers, getting past him is practically inconceivable.
Kimmich is arguably one of the pre-eminent examples of a player who doesn't just look comfortable in different roles, but would be a serious candidate for being the best in the world in a variety of positions. Following in the footsteps of former Bayern captain Philipp Lahm, who was one of the world's best left full-backs, right full-backs and defensive midfielders, Kimmich can lay a valid claim to at least the last two on the current football landscape. Being the midfield metronome appears to be more his thing, though, and the stability he has provided from there, with his total distance covered this season of 145.9 miles and a 91 per cent pass success rate vouching for his integral role in Bayern's game.
While injury may have burdened Gnabry in recent weeks, there is no denying that when the Germany international is fully fit, there is little stopping him. With seven goals and six assists from just 14 starts this season, and a further four goals in Bayern's hitherto perfect UEFA Champions League campaign, he has had a direct hand in almost a quarter of the record champions' goals so far this term, and that is without considering the innumerable times he cracked open an opposition's defence without actually providing the last or the penultimate touch, but wreaked havoc all the same.
One of the most famous ballboys in the history of football – so good he almost confused Diego Maradona into thinking he could be a footballer – Müller has already eclipsed the Argentinian great with his ten FIFA World Cup goals in 16 games, and 115 strikes in the Bundesliga. Whisper it quietly, but Müller has done this despite not being an orthodox forward. In fact, there is little orthodox at all about his game, with his lanky legs and boyish looks fooling more than just Maradona. Don't be fooled, though, Müller defies all the misconceptions with a superior understanding of the game and physics-defying, yoga-like anatomic oscillations to make him deadly in and around the opponents' penalty area, and a definite pick for our combined XI.
While opponents have been trying to suss Marcel Sabitzer out on the right of Leipzig's attacking triangle, Nkunku has been slowly but surely sharpening his own weapons on the left to give Leipzig one of the most threatening multi-faceted front lines in the Bundesliga. With three French Ligue 1 titles already in his collection, the 22-year-old has been getting better by the game since settling in Germany's top flight and this is bringing out the very best in a player who, when he can let his innate creativity run loose, cannot be reined in by anybody.
With his goalscoring exploits this season, Werner has joined that elite category of player where the question is no longer, 'will he score a goal this weekend?' but rather 'how many?' The answer was 20 after 18 games as he almost single-handedly fuelled Leipzig's title challenge, netting 15 in 11 consecutive games in a run which included one hat-trick and four braces. He is already on 83 Bundesliga goals, despite still being just 23, and you would not find particularly long odds on him joining the exclusive 100-goal club come the end of the season, and perhaps wrestling away a Torjägerkanone from a certain…
That's right, Lewandowski's being made to work to be the Bundesliga's leading scorer this season, but the competition appears be spurring him to bigger and greater things, if that even seemed possible. His goal in Bayern's 5-0 demolition of Schalke saw him level a 47-year-old record set by Gerd Müller, with no other player having scored so many in just 19 Matchdays. His own single-season record of 30 from 2015/16 seems certain to be toppled by the Pole, who is performing in such a way that Müller's 40-goal single-season record from 1972 could well be toppled this term.
Watch: How do Lewandowski and Werner compare?
Even if he was only 13 when Bayern coach Hansi Flick commenced his coaching career, Nagelsmann has been fast-tracked into being one of the Bundesliga's most experienced coaches, as oxymoronic as it may sound for a 32-year-old. The youngest coach in Bundesliga history has pedigree having become the first – and only – man to lead Hoffenheim into the UEFA Champions League, and Leipzig into the knockout stages of that same competition. A man who can handle and survive a seemingly impossible relegation battle just months after being thrust into the hotseat at Hoffenheim, only to guide them into Europe the following year, has cut some razor sharp coaching teeth, and true to his own philosophy, we would trust him to bring the very best out of the best players the Bundesliga's top two have to offer.
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Müller tops assists charts for third time in four seasons
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Robert Lewandowski wins top scorer's cannon
The Bayern Munich striker scored 35 times in 2021/22 to claim the prize for the fifth year in a row.