The likes of Angelino, Alphonso Davies and Mats Hummels have been nominated among defenders for the Bundesliga's Team of the Season, in association with EA SPORTS.
You would expect a player with one of the highest numbers of crosses from open play to be a winger, but RB Leipzig's Angelino is one of the many mould-breakers in the Bundesliga who do as much for his team's attack as he does for their defence. With four goals and as many assists, and a total of 31 shots - averaging more than one a game - it is clear to see the size of the 24-year-old Spaniard's attacking contribution.
Indeed, over the first 20 games of the season in all competitions, his eight goals and seven assists meant he was Leipzig's leading scorer, with a hand in one goal every 127 minutes. While overtly keen to exploit the space in front of him left by the departure of Timo Werner to Chelsea last summer, Angelino's role as left full-back means he must also track back regularly, unsurprisingly covering 6.8 miles per match (10.93km), which includes a total of 560 sprints - a top 30 figure league-wide. All in all, Angelino's got it all.
Watch: Angelino - Analysis of Leipzig's high-flying wing-back
The 2020/21 season will be remembered fondly by Ridle Baku, who made a move from Mainz to Wolfsburg and, just over a month later, made his senior debut for Germany. What both Wolfsburg coach Oliver Glasner and Germany head coach Joachim Löw had seen in him was an energetic right full-back who can do serious damage going forward, but has the defensive nous to hold things together when on the back foot.
Like the namesake Azerbaijan city, energy is what fuels Ridle's economy, with a league-leading 2583 intensive runs after 31 matchdays, including an also league-leading 993 sprints - over 150 more than the second name on that particular list. There is plenty of purpose to those runs too, with six goals and four assists to go with 82 crosses and 32 shots. His 305 tackles won vouch for his defensive ability, and Wolfsburg's promising challenge for a place in the Champions League is only further evidence of how Glasner got it right with Ridle.
"He is like the Berlin Wall," said Wolfsburg's sporting director Marcel Schäfer to Transfermarkt. "He could become one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga." Brooks has been holding things together in defence with glue-like adhesion this season, ensuring the Wolves have had the sturdiest of defences -one of the main contributing factors to their push for a return to the Champions League next season.
That wall is tall too - 6'3" - and Brooks is putting that height to good use by winning over 123 of his aerial duels this season, ranking him in the top 5. He's used his head for one of his two goals this season, and perhaps more importantly, he has been using his head, and more specifically his experience, to nurture the talent of his 20-year-old partner at the heart of the Wolfsburg defence, Maxence Lacroix. Together, they form a formidable defensive partnership.
If Germany's esteemed football magazine Kicker names you as one of the best 11 German players in the Bundesliga, you must be doing something right. Union Berlin's Marvin Friedrich earned that accolade for his performances in the first half of the season, and he is likely to figure on the same list come the end of a campaign in which he has been close to flawless for Die Eisernen. With success in over 70 per cent of his aerial duels, and over 60 per cent of all his tackles, he has played a major hand in Union boasting one of the most stringent defensive lines in the Bundesliga this season - conceding fewer even than Bayern Munich.
Friedrich's four goals this season are as many as he scored in the previous three seasons combined, with the 6'3" giant showing his aerial prowess is not limited to making clearances - not that anybody really doubted that when his headed goal against VfB Stuttgart in the 2019 promotion/relegation play-off earned Union promotion to the top flight. That earned him an opportunity to shine at the highest level, and he has done that this season so well that a late entry into the Germany fold for Euro 2020 would be a just reward, with perhaps qualification for the UEFA Europa League or Europa Conference League perhaps an unexpected icing on the cake?
A player who, according to Dortmund's sporting director Michael Zorc, is simply "too good to be restricted to just one position," Raphael Guerreiro is another full-back with a license to make the Signal Iduna Park greenkeeper's life a misery by churning up the channels. The 2016 European Championship winner joined Dortmund to get a regular game, and he has grown minute by minute to become one of the world's wisest wide players.
Injuries have ruled him out six times this season, with Dortmund managing to win only twice without the prolific Portuguese, who had supplied four goals and eight assists up to and including Matchday 31. His link-up play with Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Gio Reyna has been one of the key attacking elements of Dortmund's team this season, with Erling Haaland's breath-taking statistics as much down to his natural goalscoring talent as it is to the quality of the supply he has received, and Guerreiro has been a prodigious part of that supply line.
Having delivered the third-highest number of crosses in the Bundesliga this season (100 up to and including Matchday 31), Christian Günter has been thriving down the Freiburg left wing, putting some of his standout attributes to good use. One of the top 20 fastest players in the Bundesliga this season, with a top speed of 21.7 mph (34.96 km/h), Günter has one of the best natural left foots in the Bundesliga: a combination which has helped sustain Freiburg's push for European football next season.
Nominally a full-back, Günter often operates wide in a five-man midfield, allowing him to show both his pace and excellent delivery with regularity - and with 755 sprints, there is nothing he likes better than turning on the after-burners - and his defensive statistics are enviable too, with 196 tackles won, averaging almost seven per game, and fewer than one foul for every 90 minutes. Quick, creative and consistent: Günter ticks all the boxes.
The roadrunner needed a bit of a run up to hit top gear this season, but once he found it, Alphonso Davies was again doing what he does best: dominating the Bayern left field. The Canadian full-back - the North American country's footballer of the year for 2020 - has polished his reputation as one of the league's quickest players, second only to Erling Haaland in that particular statistic this season, though the electric Edmontonian still holds the record as the Bundesliga's fastest player (22.7mph/36.53 km/h) from his breakout 2019/20 campaign.
That was only one reason why Davies was voted onto the 2020 FIFA FifPro Best 11, and the Canadian continues to set the bar higher and higher. "If an attacking player goes past me, I take it personally - and do not want that to happen under any circumstances," he said. "There are a lot of little details, but I keep telling myself: 'nothing is going to stop be from being in the 2021 FIFA Best XI'. Once you're named in the team, you want to stay there!" A place on the Bundesliga TOTS for the second straight season would not go amiss either, and Davies is doing all he can to deserve that.
Watch: Alphonso Davies - Bayern's two-world star
Borna Sosa is one of only two players to have delivered more than 100 crosses this season, together with Eintracht Frankfurt winger Filip Kostic. The difference between the two, however, is that Sosa is a defender, in a team returning to the Bundesliga from Bundesliga 2. Croatia Under-21 international Sosa does not just cross the ball for the sake of it either, with nine assists coming from his bursts down the left wing and incisive incursions from wide.
That makes him the defender with the most assists across Europe's top five leagues, and a dream teammate for strikers such as Sasa Kalajdzic, or before him, former Germany international Mario Gomez, who said "I hadn't been used to receiving such crosses since I played for Bayern Munich." Those crosses have got better and better, with Stuttgart's sporting director Sven Mislintat paying him the ultimate of tributes by saying that Sosa's crossing ability "reminds me of David Beckham."
Another member of Union's surprisingly stable back line is Christopher Trimmel, although his real strength emerges when a dead ball is calling to be curled into the danger area. Thanks to his precise corner and set-piece deliveries, Trimmel has set up eight goals for the capital club this season, adding to the 11 assists he supplied last season - including a Europe-leading seven from set-pieces - and the one which, incidentally, set up Marvin Friedrich for that goal which earned Union a place in the top flight in 2019.
With 64 crosses up to and including Matchday 31, he ranks 12th league-wide in this statistic, and his performances over the past 12 months have rightly earned him a recall to the Austria national team. "I'm currently enjoying the best time of my career," he told Spox.com in January. He said that before scoring his first Bundesliga goal, in a 2-1 win over Cologne on Matchday 25, and captaining Union to a 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich which meant they remained unbeaten against the record champions home and away this season.
Mats Hummels may have moved backwards and forwards between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, winning trophies for both clubs, but his career has only gone in one direction: upwards. The current season - his second back with the Black & Yellows - has been no exception, with the 32-year-old displaying all his experience in leading an otherwise youthful defence. With five goals, he has even matched his best single-season haul in a decade - since he scored five in Dortmund's 2010/11 title-winning campaign under Jürgen Klopp - but his importance to the Westphalians this season has once again been in his defending.
Age biologically slows one down, but Hummels has intelligently compensated by accelerating his thought process, anticipating where the ball will go and ensuring he is a step ahead of his opponent when it invariably arrives there. While Erling Haaland has been earning all the headlines, as is common practice for a striker, Hummels' importance to the Dortmund team can be summed up in the words of club advisor Matthias Sammer. "Hummels' departure would hurt the club more [than Haaland's]," he told the Bild newspaper. "Not only has he stabilised the team but also in difficult moments he showed up in Edin Terzic's defence in a way that commands respect. He is a type of character that we need looking ahead to the future."
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