As a seven-time Bundesliga champion, FIFA World Cup and Ballon d'Or winner, Lothar Matthäus knows a thing or two about the Beautiful Game. After watching and analysing the 2020/21 closely as a pundit for broadcaster Sky, the official Bundesliga legend named his Team of the Season. And what a team it is…
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Robert Lewandowski's record-setting 41 goals undoubtedly set Bayern on their way to a ninth straight Bundesliga title, but where would they have been without Neuer? The world's best goalkeeper produced a number of top-class saves throughout the season to keep the champions in the game. He made 94 in total, but that doesn't tell half the story of his one-on-one stops, reflex reactions and marauding clearances.
Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
It's fair to say some people had written off Hummels at 32, but he's proven so many wrong this season. The centre-back featured in all but one game over 2020/21 (due to suspension for accumulation of yellow cards), had the best challenge success rate of anyone in the league (65 per cent), the second-most touches in the division (3,030), won the second-most aerial challenges (168) and enjoyed the joint-best scoring season of his career with five goals. A recall for Germany ahead of the Euros was simply inevitable.
Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)
A centre-back following in Hummels' footsteps is Upamecano, who joins Bayern this summer after over four years at RB Leipzig. The hulking 6'1" defender combines physicality with pace and control. He finished the season in the top 10 for challenge success rate (61 per cent), touches (2,465), pass completion (91 per cent) and also boasts a top speed of over 22 mph. The 22-year-old Frenchman is destined for big things in Munich after earning so much praise with Leipzig.
Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich)
One of his future teammates at Bayern - and likely also with France - and potential centre-back partner is Hernandez. The club's record signing had a somewhat frustrating first season at the Allianz Arena, but the 25-year-old emerged as one of Hansi Flick's most trusted men at the back over 2020/21, whether in the centre of defence or on the left. And Bayern were quite simply a more solid team with him in it, conceding 14 goals in 1,599 minutes with the FIFA World Cup winner on the pitch, compared to 30 in 1,461 without him. He's also yet to finish a Bundesliga game on the losing side in 28 starts.
Ridle Baku (Wolfsburg)
Without question one of the surprises of the season. Baku's campaign got off to a rather inauspicious start after two opening losses with Mainz, but things changed quickly after joining Wolfsburg. The right-back featured in every remaining game for the Wolves, eventually moving into a right-wing position that saw him really catch the eye. Six goals and six assists is a remarkable return for someone who only had three of each in 50 Bundesliga appearances for Mainz and saw him earn a first senior Germany cap in November. Baku topped the league standings for sprints and intensive runs with his tireless efforts down the Wolves' right flank.
Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
You will do well to find anyone who wouldn’t want Kimmich in their team. The 26-year-old has become the beating heart for Bayern and the team clearly struggled during his month-long absence at the end of 2020. His dogged determination earned the German, European and world champions the 2020 Supercup against Dortmund and - on his comeback - it was his resolve to win back the ball in stoppage time that led to Lewandowski's goal away at Bayer Leverkusen to send Bayern top at Christmas - never to be caught. Four goals and 10 assists would undoubtedly have been more if he hadn't missed seven games.
Watch: Analysis: Kimmich the boss!
Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig)
Eight goals and three assists might be the headline stats for Sabitzer in 2020/21, but Matthäus recognises that the Leipzig captain's role goes much deeper than that. In a move reminiscent of Bastian Schweinsteiger, the 27-year-old has been converted from a right winger into a central midfielder capable of playing in both attacking and more withdrawn roles. He's now the provider of the pass before the assist and one of the key men in the second-place finish for Nagelsmann's men.
Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt)
It was a frustrating start to the season for Kostic that saw him struggle for fitness and form, but things improved immeasurably in 2021. The Serbian ended the campaign on four goals and with 14 assists - second only to Thomas Müller. Of those goal contributions, all but one came over the final 19 matchdays. No player delivered more crosses from open play in the Bundesliga (281), no player had more goals scored from his crosses (seven), and he was the second best in the league for passes to a shot (91) and sprints (923).
Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich)
Another season, another title for Müller, who is now the most decorated player in Bundesliga history alongside David Alaba with 10 winner's medals each. Even after all this time it's difficult to put a finger on exactly what the Raumdeuter does on the pitch, but whatever it is, it produces results. For the second season in a row, the 31-year-old has finished as the Bundesliga's assist king, on 18, and created the most chances in the league with 95. Eleven goals for himself also makes this his best scoring season since 2015/16 and, like Hummels, his return to Germany's squad for the Euros was simply a must for Joachim Löw.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
What more can you say about Lewandowski this season? He did what many thought impossible and surpassed Gerd Müller's 49-year record for goals in a single Bundesliga season, scoring his historic 41 in only 29 appearances. There were only five games where Lewandowski played and didn't actually get on the scoresheet, while he got four hat-tricks and one four-goal haul. As a Ballon d'Or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year, Matthäus knows what it takes to be the best - which Lewandowski is right now.
Watch: All 41 of Lewandowski's goals in 2020/21
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
Haaland's first full season in the Bundesliga was just as goal-filled as everyone expected with 27 in 28 games. The most remarkable thing about the Leeds-born Norway international is that when he did score, he mostly got (at least) one more. Ten of the 14 games in which he struck produced braces, plus there was his famous second-half four-goal salvo away at Hertha Berlin on Matchday 8. A force of Nordic nature at still only 20 who will surely only improve on his tally next season.