10 out of 10: Bayern Munich's key protagonists
While football is a team game, Bayern Munich have some individuals who can really make the difference.
After clinching the title with a 3-1 win in Der Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund, bundesliga.com looks at which Bayern stars have had the biggest impact over the course of an historic season...
Which player has tasted victory in the Bundesliga more than any other? Step forward Manuel Neuer. With 315 triumphs, the 36-year-old custodian has taken maximum points in two thirds of the games he has played (462) in Germany's top flight. Merely by having the Germany goalkeeper in their side, therefore, Bayern boost their chances of winning to a two-in-three likelihood.
Watch: Manuel Neuer re-writing the record books
Given all of the other records Neuer holds, such a strong win percentage is anything but coincidental. The world’s greatest ever goalkeeper took Oliver Kahn’s Bundesliga record for clean sheets (now 214 for Schalke and Bayern) at the start of this season – in well over 100 games fewer than Der Titan. His presence is enough to put off opposition strikers, but it is not only about Neuer's aura. "When he's in goal, the opponents sometimes have a different mindset, and Manu can also save unsaveable shots," said teammate Thomas Müller. The man who redefined the goalkeeping game has shown more than ever in recent years that he is still at the peak of his powers with countless excellent stops.
Running a tight ship is not only Neuer's duty, it falls across many shoulders, fewer as broad as those of Kimmich. While he has advanced from his original position as a full-back, Kimmich has not forgotten how to defend and, in fact, he has refined this part of his game while expanding his already accomplished repertoire to become a deep-lying playmaker; the metronome of this Munich team.
Watch: How Kimmich runs the Bayern midfield
"It's so important to have a No6 who wants the ball and has the necessary composure in possession," said Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann, who is fully aware of the richness he possesses in Kimmich. "The great thing is he's world class at right-back and in midfield." Tipped to be a future Bayern captain – and he has already pulled on the armband on three occasions for Germany – Kimmich ticks all the boxes, according to a former Bayern and Germany captain. "He's a leader at such a young age and in such an ensemble of stars, and his teammates are always trying to find him because they know what he gives them," said former Bayern legend Lothar Matthäus. "He's the best No6 in the world."
For a man who chalked up his 300th Bundesliga win against Augsburg on Matchday 29, joining Neuer (314 wins) and Oliver Kahn (310) in an elite group of players to have reached that landmark, Müller has already done more than enough to underscore his winning influence, and in his typical swaggering style, he simply took it in his stride. "The 300th win wasn't a spectacular one," he said. "I hope I'll be able to pick up a few more of them too."
Watch: Assist-King analysis: Thomas Müller
For many a professional footballer, merely playing in 300 games is an achievement, but then Müller is no ordinary player. Since joining Bayern as a 10-year-old in summer 2000 and making his Bundesliga debut a month before his 19th birthday, Müller has known only one way: to win. And he has done it in his own, inimitable style. Neither a centre forward nor a typical No10, Müller has invented a role for himself somewhere between the two, identifying gaps in his self-created Raumdeuter style and ghosting into them to score or set up a better-placed teammate. Indeed, his 21 assists in 2019/20 set a new Bundesliga record, while he is closing in on having had a direct hand in 500 goals, with 226 scored and 242 assisted to date. And the 2021/22 is extra special for Müller, who became the first player in Bundesliga history to win the title for an 11th time.
The whole world now knows that Robert Lewandowski is the best forward on the planet. After taking his first scintillating steps in German football with Dortmund, scoring 103 goals in 187 appearances for the Black & Yellows, he then moved to Munich and onto another level. Those figures in Westphalia now seem rather modest, given what the 33-year-old Pole has gone on to achieve in Bavaria. With 342 goals in 372 games for Bayern, including 236 in the Bundesliga, he has been breaking record after record – and then some.
Watch: Tactical analysis: Line Dancer Lewandowski
After smashing Gerd Müller's age-old single-season scoring record in 2020/21, 'Lewangoalski' is still in with a shot at bettering his own record of 41 strikes last term, coming out of Der Klassiker with 33 goals and three games still to play. You might be wondering how likely that is, but we are talking about a player who has already scored 16 Bundesliga hat-tricks, including one memorable five-goal salvo against Wolfsburg in just nine minutes.
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