Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka made a telling contribution to Bayern Munich's 2020/21 Bundesliga title win. - © /
Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka made a telling contribution to Bayern Munich's 2020/21 Bundesliga title win. - © /
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Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer and the cornerstones of Bayern Munich's successful Bundesliga title defence

You'll be hard pressed to name a more effective spine than Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. bundesliga.com shines the spotlight on the cornerstones of the record champions' march to a record-extending ninth successive Bundesliga title...

1) Robert Lewandowski

Deaths, taxes and Lewandowski goals. The world is fast running out of superlatives to describe the sharp-shooting feats of Bayern’s trigger-happy No.9. Only a knee ligament injury managed to stop him from scoring in successive league games - that’s how insatiably prolific Lewy has been throughout 2020/21. The Pole stuck away a career-best 35 goals in 25 Bundesliga appearances before sitting out four matches in a row through injury, but has rattled off four goals in two games since making his comeback. He now needs just two more - across upcoming fixtures against Freiburg and Augsburg - to break Gerd Müller’s long-standing single-season best-mark of 40.

Lewandowski in numbers

  • Scoring a goal every 59 minutes, and only failed to find the net in four games
  • Averaged a goal every three shots, whilst converting 73 percent of his clear-cut chances
  • Struck twice or more in 10 different matches

Watch: How does Lewandowski score his goals?

What they’re saying

“He’s the complete striker, and is 10 times better than I was.” - Germany’s record goalscorer, and Bayern assistant Miroslav Klose

“He’s our best goalscorer by a distance, a huge character, he works just as hard as anyone else in the team.” - Müller

2) Thomas Müller

Where there are Lewandowski goals, there are usually Müller assists. The Raumdeuter (space interpreter) has had a direct hand in over 30 per cent of Bayern’s goals in 2020/21, furnishing Lewandowski on seven occasions. He’s produced his highest share of single-season goals for five years, and is the runaway leaders at the head of the assists charts for the second season in a row. There might not be a method for quantifying the intangibles - what he does off the ball, in the moments prior to the incoming pass or shot - but a record 10th Bundesliga winner’s medal is testament enough to the enduring qualities of football’s generational enigma.

Müller in numbers

  • Fourth only to Lewandowski, Andre Silva and Erling Haaland for combined goals and assists
  • Müller was involved in a goal in nine successive Bundesliga games between Matchdays 22-30 - a first since detailed data collection began in 1992
  • Set up more shots on goal than any other Bundesliga player

Müller's (c.) domestic displays could be rewarded with a recall to Joachim Löw's Germany team in time for Euro 2020. - Pool/Lukas Barth-Tuttas - Pool/Getty

What they’re saying

“Thomas is incredibly important for the club. You need players who identify 100 percent with the club, and he’s always there for them. He shows it on the pitch, and is always trying to drive the team forwards. There are only a handful of players like that, and Thomas is one of them.” - former Bayern captain Philipp Lahm

“He’s surpassed himself. He’s world class - he’s scoring goals, making goals.” - former Bayern head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld

3) Manuel Neuer

The quality, consistency and execution Müllandowski bring to the table at one end is mirrored by the great Neuer at the other. Bayern's captain fantastic has saved the record champions countless times over the course of the campaign, be it with his instinctive jaunts outside his penalty area, famous size 47s or spring-loaded reflexes. There is no better goalkeeper in world football, which might explain why outgoing head coach Hansi Flick is so happy to go all-out overdog come rain or shine. Bayern's high line will concede scoring chances, but taking them against the most imposing last line of defence known to man is another battle altogether.

Neuer in numbers

  • The only goalkeeper on 100 or more Bundesliga appearances to have conceded fewer goals (355) than games played (436)
  • Boasts the best clean-sheets-to-game ratio of any Bundesliga goalkeeper past or present (48 percent)
  • Has taken just 437 top-flight games to equal Oliver Kahn's Bundesliga clean sheet record (204). His predecessor needed 557

Watch: Manuel Neuer under the tactical microscope

What they’re saying

“Manu has been playing sensationally for over a year. With him, the goal for the striker is getting smaller and smaller. He is in the form of his life.” - Flick

“It’s nothing against Lewandowski - he’s a world-class striker - but Neuer would have been my World Player of the Year. He’s a class apart. You always feel he’s there for you.” - Germany coach Joachim Löw

4) Joshua Kimmich

Kimmich continues to make a strong case to one day succeed Neuer as skipper. The 26-year-old is Bayern's next best for assists after Müller, second to Jerome Boateng for pass completion and in the top three for challenges won. If pitch-side monitors were rigged with decibel meters, he'd surely come out as their - if not the Bundesliga's - most vocal player. Bayern's points-per-game ratio with and without their midfield terrier highlights his influence. Over the five matches he missed through injury earlier in the campaign, the Reds averaged 1.80 points. With Kimmich present, correct and bridging defence and attack, that number climbs to 2.54.

Kimmich in numbers

  • Three goals, 10 assists
  • Most for touches and distance covered of all Bayern players
  • Second league-wide for assists from corners; second at Bayern for shots on goal

Watch: How Joshua Kimmich mans the Bayern midfield

What they’re saying

“He’s a mentality monster!” - Müller

“Kimmich is the model professional. He’ll go down in history, and not just at Bayern. He’s world-class in two position, and easily my favourite player.” - Bundesliga legend Lothar Matthäus

5) Leon Goretzka

The lightning to Kimmich's thunder, Goretzka once again proved himself to be the ideal counter-weight in Bayern's midfield double pivot. Blessed with elite-level tactical acumen and tempered aggression, the Germany international is also a master of game-changing runs from deep. Among his three goals and four assists between Matchdays 23 to 27 alone was the match-winner against title rivals RB Leipzig, as well as a well-taken effort at home to Borussia Dortmund. Were it not for a handful of minor injury set-backs, Bayern's perfect marriage of brains, brawn and bite would likely have hit a new personal best for goal involvement.

Goretzka in numbers

  • Five goals, seven assists
  • Won 58 per cent of his attempted challenges - a career high
  • Won the most challenges of any player in the league in March (54)

What they’re saying

“Leon has shown his qualities in some big games for us. He’s aggressive with his press and knows when to switch play in possession.” - Flick

“We all know what Leon can do with the ball and how dangerous he is in and around the opposition box.” - Neuer

Chris Mayer-Lodge