David Alaba and Toni Kroos are among the best players in world football in their respective positions. Both started out in the Bundesliga on their way to joining Real Madrid, but they're not the only ones. bundesliga.com presents a Real XI, made in Germany's top flight...
Ilgner made 116 competitive appearances for Madrid between 1996 and 2001. The 1990 FIFA World Cup winner was in goal for Real's 1997/98 UEFA Champions League final win over Juventus, having got his hands on the La Liga title 12 months earlier. He won both competitions again in 1990/00 and 2000/01 respectively, albeit as back-up to Iker Casillas. Prior to Madrid, Ilgner picked up runners-up medals with Cologne in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup, losing 5-3 on aggregate to Real, and the 1990/91 DFB Cup. The 54-time Germany international, who hung up his gloves in 2001, is also a two-time Bundesliga runner-up.
Carvajal spent just a season in Germany, at Cologne's regional neighbours Bayer Leverkusen in 2012/13. He turned out 36 times for Die Werkself, before Real exercised their buy-back option. The Spanish defender has since helped Madrid win five Champions Leagues, including a hat-trick of titles between 2015 and 2018. He's lifted a further 14 domestic, European and world club trophies in that time, and has since passed 330 competitive appearances for the club. One of the most recent of which came in the 2022 UEFA Super Cup victory over UEFA Europa League holders Eintracht Frankfurt.
Rüdiger takes his place alongside Carvajal after making the move to Real from Chelsea in summer 2022. The Germany centre-back became a Champions League winner during his English Premier League stint, but it was in the youth ranks of Borussia Dortmund and in the Bundesliga with VfB Stuttgart where he honed his craft. The Berlin native made his first of 66 Bundesliga appearances in 2012, the same year he was awarded the U19 Fritz Walter Medal that recognises the best young players in the Germany. Following two seasons at Roma, he added the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup to his ever-growing list of accolades.
Alaba is among the most decorated players of the modern era, let alone in the current Real ranks. The Austrian all-rounder picked up 10 Bundesliga titles and racked up nearly 300 matches in the German top flight with Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim, whilst winning continental trebles in 2013 and 2020, the latter as part of an historic sextuple under Hansi Flick. All told, Bayern's legendary No.27 spent 12 years in Germany, before crowning his debut season at Madrid with a maiden La Liga and third Champions League winner's medal. Remarkably, the midfielder-turned-defensive ace only celebrated his 30th birthday in June 2022.
Watch: Alaba, made in the Bundesliga
Breitner started out life as a left-full-back, winning three Bundesliga titles with Bayern, as well as the 1972 European Cup and 1974 FIFA World Cup. He was moved into the centre midfield at Madrid, allowing his natural talent and technical skill to unfurl and help the Spaniards to clinch a league and cup double in 1975. When he returned to the Bundesliga in 1977, joining Eintracht Braunschweig, he had already become one of the most menacing midfielders in the game. A subsequent return to Bayern inspired the record champions, as captain, to win the 1980 title – their first since Breitner had left six years earlier.
Stielike was part of the Borussia Mönchengladbach team that enjoyed one of the Bundesliga's defining rivalries with Breitner's Bayern in the 1970s. The combative sweeper won three Bundesliga titles, the DFB Cup and UEFA Cup with the Foals, prior to his 1977 switch to Real. Legend has it, Real president Santiago Bernabeu travelled to Germany to iron out a deal for Gladbach's Herbert Wimmer, only to change his mind upon seeing Stielike in action. It proved an inspired decision: Stielike helped Real win three straight La Liga titles, among others, whilst being named the division's Best Foreign Player for four seasons running.
Not even six months into life as a professional footballer - and aged just 19 - Khedira was already a Bundesliga champion. He even scored the winning goal as boyhood club Stuttgart clinched their first Bundesliga title in 15 years with a 2-1 win over Energie Cottbus (2006/07). After becoming a Germany stalwart in the ensuing years, he excelled in a Madrid team which won one La Liga title as well as their 10th, 11th and 12th Champions League crowns. Domestic success followed at Juventus, before the 2014 World Cup winner called time on a decorated career following a short spell at Hertha Berlin.
At times Khedira's right-hand man, Kroos has established himself as one of the best midfielders on the planet during his time in the Spanish capital, but it all started for the serial Champions League and 2014 World Cup winner in the Bundesliga. He was considered a Jahrhunderttalent – 'talent of the century' – when Bayern plucked him from the youth ranks of Hansa Rostock in summer 2006. Just over a year later, he had already made his Bundesliga debut under Ottmar Hitzfeld, aged 17. Kroos enjoyed a formative loan spell at Leverkusen, before bolting down his place in one of the most successful Bayern teams in history and hoovering up club gold in the colours of Real.
Watch: Toni Kroos - Made in the Bundesliga
Schuster also turned out for Leverkusen, but his halcyon days fell during a 13-year stay in Spain. After breaking onto the senior scene at Cologne, aged just 18, 'Der blonde Engel' (the blonde angel) spent eight years at Barcelona, two at Real and three at Atletico Madrid, before wrapping up his playing career with Leverkusen and Mexico's UNAM. Schuster won multiple La Liga, Copa del Rey, League and Super Cups, and was also part of Germany's 1980 European Championship-winning side. He returned to Real as a coach, winning the 2007/08 La Liga title in his only full season in charge.
Netzer captained Gladbach to their maiden title in 1970 and ensured they would become the first German club to defend their crown a year later. The 1972 German Footballer of the Year scored in Germany's first ever win at London's Wembley Stadium, on the way to his country winning UEFA Euro 1972, and he subsequently became the first German to play for Real, with whom he won the 1974 Spanish Cup, a league and cup double a year later, and the Spanish league title in his third and final year in Spain, before ending his career at Grasshoppers Zurich.
Özil is another example of a Bundesliga-reared player who's won it all - well, pretty much. Weighing in with 10 goals as Schalke delivered the 2005/06 German Junior Championship, the midfield maestro was soon called into the senior side and made his Bundesliga debut at just 17. His next trophy arrived at Werder Bremen, in the form of the 2008/09 DFB Cup, and he won his first senior Germany cap prior to lifting the 2009 U21 European Championship. Özil managed 13 goals and 37 assists in 101 Bundesliga appearances all told, before joining Madrid in 2010. Spanish Liga and Copa del Rey honours followed, as well as a 2014 World Cup winner's medal.
Watch: The best 5 Bundesliga goals by former and current Real Madrid players
A scorer of over 350 goals for club and country, Heynckes is one of the best strikers Germany has ever produced. He won four Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Cup whilst playing for Gladbach, and was a World Cup and Euro winner with Germany. His ability as a player translated into even more gold as a coach, notably the 2012/13 continental treble during a third stint at the helm of Bayern. His first had yielded two Bundesliga titles, and preceded spells in charge of Frankfurt, Tenerife and Real. In his only season prowling the Santiago Bernabeu touchline, 'Don Jupp' ended the club's 32-year wait for their seventh European Cup crown.
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