In Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Niklas Süle, Bayern Munich boast "three world-class centre-backs" according to boss Niko Kovac himself. compares the German champions' awesome threesome with their European rivals and wonders whether the Bundesliga title holders have the best by (centre-)half…

Bayern Munich: Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Niklas Süle

Combined age: 82 (30+29+23)

International caps: 152 (74+66+12)

Is there a more complementary trio in world football than the men Kovac has at his disposal? Boateng provides athleticism and an ability to hit long passes, Hummels oozes grace and style in his game as well as being adept at bringing the ball out. Süle is the perfect foil for both. Why? The former Hoffenheim man can do it all.

"We have three world-class centre-backs," Kovac said recently when it was reported that Boateng could be leaving the club. "I would be happy to still have these three players [at the end of the transfer window] and that no-one else leaves," the Bayern boss added, though he does now have the headache-provoking conundrum of how to fit three centre-backs into two slots in his side.

Watch: Will their tremendous trio help Bayern make it a magnificent seven?

Kovac has found the answer to be rotation so far, switching Hummels and Süle in Bayern's two league matches which have seen just a single goal conceded. And importantly, his players seem happy too with the reality of a three-pronged challenge on the home and European front requiring a change in personnel to keep everyone fresh.

"I hope he uses squad rotation throughout the season," Hummels explained. "There will always be players injured or suspended. We have games every three days between now and Christmas pretty much. So we need a big and quality squad and rotation. And that also includes me."

Manchester City: Vincent Kompany, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte

Combined age: 80 (32+24+24)

International caps: 116 (83+33+0)

While Bayern's three are all full internationals, the champions of England have yet to see Laporte pull on the colours of his country at senior level, but City do have the vastly experienced Kompany to compensate partly.

Vincent Kompany was a promising defender at Hamburg before moving to Manchester City. © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Friedemann Vogel

One of the finest defenders of his generation, only injury problems that have peppered recent seasons have prevented the former Hamburg man comfortably earning himself the tag 'all-time great'.

The Belgium international remains an inspirational figure while Stones continues to cultivate his reputation as a ball-playing centre-back under the high priest of the genre, ex-Bayern boss Pep Guardiola.

Barcelona: Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet

Combined age: 78 (31+24+23)

International caps: 129 (103+26+0)

Two World Cup winners patrol at the heart of the Barca back four just as they do at Bayern, though while Boateng and Hummels are equals, Pique is very much the senior figure.

Umtiti is no greenhorn though. The former Lyon defender has just entered his third season at Camp Nou, and given the progress he has made so far in Catalonia, he is only likely to improve still further with this summer's success with France in Russia to shore up his self-belief.

Samuel Umtiti (l.) and Gerard Pique (r.) get to grips with Roma's former Wolfsburg forward and Bundesliga champion Edin Dzeko. © gettyimages / Catherine Ivill

Lenglet is — for now — the junior partner, not only compared to his teammates but also to Süle, who is well ahead of his blaugrana rival in terms of top-level experience at the same age. Also like the Bayern man, the Frenchman is fully aware of the opportunity he has in seeing some of the game's best defenders up close every day.

"If I don't play, I'll watch my teammates to learn from them," said the summer arrival from Sevilla. "They have experience of the top level and that can help me too."

Paris Saint-Germain: Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe

Combined age: 80 (33+24+23)

International caps: 108 (77+28+3)

PSG find themselves in a similar position to Barcelona with one figure dominating their back line. Thiago Silva may no longer bear the unofficial title of 'the world's best defender', but the Brazilian, nicknamed 'O Mostro' (The Monster), remains a formidable barrier to opposing forwards.

With his age advancing, however, Silva is increasingly likely to pass the mantle to Marquinhos, who has replaced his compatriot as PSG captain at times.

Paris Saint-Germain's Thiago Silva (l.) and Marquinhos (r.) team up against Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery. © gettyimages / Alexander Hassenstein

A Brazilian centre-back in the unflappable mould of his senior partner, the ex-Roma man is more often than not likely to find himself alongside Kimpembe, a World Cup winner with France this summer, but still in the early stages of his career.

Juventus: Leonardo Bonucci, Medhi Benatia, Giorgio Chiellini

Combined age: 96 (31+31+34)

International caps: 236 (81+58+97)

The Bianconeri's BBC have been a permanent feature of their seven successive Serie A titles, though this season — like last — there is a slight change in personnel.

Juventus duo Leonardo Bonucci (l.) and Giorgio Chiellini (r.) are masters at keeping strikers like ex-Bayern Munich man Mario Mandzukic in check. © gettyimages / Michael Regan

Original member Andrea Barzagli, once of Wolfsburg, remains at the club, but with the return of Leonardo Bonucci from AC Milan, he is the odd man out with ex-Bayern defender Medhi Benatia also available to Massimiliano Allegri.

In terms of experience of the very highest level, there are few who even come close — never mind match — the Juve trio but they cannot always compensate for their advancing years with the vast experience.

Real Madrid: Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Nacho

Combined age: 85 (32+25+28)

International caps: 225 (156+50+19)

Two more FIFA World Cup winners are first-choice for the European champions with Varane's coolness and ability on the ball contrasting nicely with the undying will-to-win of Ramos.

The Spain international, who was a Dani Alves-esque right-back at the start of his career, remains one of the game's most ferocious competitors — just ask Liverpool's Mo Salah! — and has been a driving force behind Real's three successive UEFA Champions League triumphs.

Even Bayern's Robert Lewandowski found the going tough against Real Madrid's formidable centre-back duo. © gettyimages / Javier Soriano

Varane was coaxed to Spain by Zinedine Zidane, who was convinced of his qualities even when the France international was an untested teenager at Lens. That says it all…

While the two frontline centre-backs are strong, Nacho is a weaker — if not weak — link. Still, according to teammate and fellow centre-back Jesus Vallejo, "They are the three best centre-backs in the world."

The Bayern squad will certainly have something to say about that…

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