Bayern Munich dominated matters on the pitch so naturally several of their star players feature in the list of top appearance-makers in the decade just finished. But plenty of other Bundesliga stalwarts stayed the course at the top level between 2010 and 2020.
Oliver Baumann was taking the first steps of his professional career by the turn of the decade, and represented Germany up to and including U21 level. He impressed enough to earn his first Bundesliga start before the age of 20, coming on the final day of the 2009/10 season in Freiburg‘s 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund. The current Hoffenheim netminder became a first-team regular with his local club in each of the four following campaigns, helping Christian Streich’s side to finish fifth in the standings in 2012/13 and experiencing UEFA Europa League football. With 131 Bundesliga games behind him – at the age of 23 and after spending 14 years at Freiburg – Baumann moved on to Hoffenheim in the summer of 2014. The dependable keeper has been a first-choice ever since, enjoying a thrilling time under Julian Nagelsmann when Hoffenheim finished third and fourth in the Bundesliga before featuring in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2018/19. Consistency and an injury-free run meant he made more appearances than any other player between 2010 and 2020.
Good enough to be in the top 10 for both assists and goals over the decade, Thomas Müller played almost as many league matches as Baumann. Having broken through at the back end of 2009, the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner has become an iconic figure for the record champions. The attacker’s versatility and all-round game made him hard to leave out of the side, especially when he was contributing to so many goals on the way to winning eight Bundesliga titles. On Matchday 10 of the 2019/20 season, the 30-year-old became just the tenth Bayern player to make 500 appearances in all competitions.
3) Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich)
If I say 'Bundesliga', you say 'Lewandowski'. The Pole was another Bayern player who became synonymous with the German top flight over the past 10 years, scoring a whopping 221 league goals – the most in the decade – for Dortmund and then Bayern during that time. In August, the four-time Bundesliga top goalscorer extended his contract until 2023, and he said recently that “the best is still to come.“ A good chance, then, that Lewandowski might feature in more teams of the decade when we do a similar review in 2030.
Watch: A tactical analysis of Lewandowski's game
Manuel Neuer has become such a star at Bayern that it’s easy to forget that he started the decade at his local club Schalke. By then the future Bayern and Germany captain was already well established, helping the Royal Blues to a second-place finish in 2009/10 and the Champions League semi-finals the following season. That proved his last year with Schalke, and he has since gone on to become the undisputed number one at the record German champions over the past nine seasons. The 33-year-old could well have been top of the pile for appearances had a broken foot not restricted him to three league games in the 2017/18 campaign.
A former teammate of Baumann at Freiburg, Daniel Caligiuri's form there earned him a move to Wolfsburg in 2013. It was a good time to link up with the Wolves as – along with the likes of Bas Dost, Kevin De Bruyne, Luiz Gustavo and Ivan Perisic – he enjoyed a memorable season in 2014/15. The experienced wide man sscored seven league goals and had three assists as the 2008/09 German champions finished as runners-up to Bayern in the league, won the DFB Cup final, and reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League. He was a mainstay for the Wolves over three-and-a-half seasons, as he has been since switching to Schalke in January 2017. The 31-year-old made over 25 league appearances in seven seasons over the past 10 years, comfortably earning him a place in the top 10.
6) Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich)
A player that can be appreciated on both sides of the Klassiker divide, in 2010 Mats Hummels had already left Bayern to join Jürgen Klopp’s revolution at Dortmund. The centre-back scored an impressive five league goals in 32 starts as BVB won the title in 2010/11, and missed just one Bundesliga game the following season as his side completed a league and cup double. Having served as captain of Dortmund, he returned to Munich in 2016. The man who won 70 caps for Germany – as well as the 2014 World Cup – started at least 20 league games in each of his three seasons in Bavaria, winning three more league titles. Dortmund bought him back in the summer of 2019, so it’s no surprise that he was also named in the team of the decade.
Having started the decade at Wolfsburg, where he became a German champion in 2009, Christian Gentner returned to his first professional club, VfB Stuttgart, in July 2010. The combative midfielder had played a part in Stuttgart’s title win in 2006/07, and he was a near-permanent fixture in the engine room over the following nine seasons. One of those was spent in Bundesliga 2 – following Stuttgart’s relegation in 2016 – so for Gentner to still make this list gives you an indication of how durable the veteran is. He has, after all, twice started every game in a Bundesliga season during his career. Following a second relegation with Stuttgart in 2019, he moved to Union Berlin in the close season and has since added to his impressive tally of top-flight appearances.
Vedad Ibisevic was already a proven Bundesliga goalscorer by the start of the decade, and the 35-year-old continued to add to that reputation – and his top-10 goal tally – over the next 10 years. The former Bosnia-Herzegovina international switched from Hoffenheim to Stuttgart midway through the 2011/12 campaign, and scored 15 goals in 30 Bundesliga matches in his first full season there. A move to Hertha Berlin followed in August 2015, and he made 125 league appearances for the Old Lady in four-and-a-half seasons until the end of 2019.
Daniel Baier first joined Augsburg on loan from Wolfsburg in August 2008, and that move was made permanent 16 months later. Since then, the midfielder has played a part in every season of his team’s current nine-year run in the Bundesliga. The club captain since 2017, Baier sat out only 26 of Augsburg’s 289 Bundesliga matches in that time – and has started every one of the matches he has featured in. The 35-year-old’s top-flight know-how was proving vital once again come the end of the decade, given that he started 12 of his side’s 17 Bundesliga matches in the current campaign.
It’s no surprise to see Reus make the top 10. When fit – and he has had some cruel luck with injuries – the Germany international was usually in the side, whether that was for Gladbach at the start of the decade or following his move to Dortmund in 2012. The gifted attacker was so effective that he also made the Klassiker team of the decade as well as featuring in the top 10 for goals and assists.
Rudy, though, is another model pro who featured in as many as Bundesliga matches over the 10-year period. The defensive midfielder started the decade at Stuttgart before impressing over seven seasons with Hoffenheim. Having played 195 league games with them, Rudy added another 25 Bundesliga appearances – and a league medal – after spending the 2017/18 campaign with Bayern. The 29-year-old then moved to Schalke before returning to Hoffenheim on loan in July 2019. A reliable top-flight performer, he closed out the decade with 16 league starts as Alfred Schreuder’s side ended 2019 in a creditable seventh position.
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