Some of the Bundesliga's biggest and brightest stars will collide when Borussia Dortmund host defending champions Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker on Saturday. What would your best possible XI looks like? bundesliga.com asked any you answered...
Voting breakdown and percentages below.
Switzerland international Bürki made a remarkable start to the 2017/18 campaign, keeping five consecutive clean sheets as Dortmund swept to the top of the table with four wins and a draw. The 26-year-old may not possess the same aura as Manuel Neuer, but he boasts similar shot-stopping prowess and has established himself as one of the top goalkeepers in the Bundesliga, impressing with Freiburg in 2014/15 before replacing Roman Weidenfeller as BVB's first-choice keeper in 2015/16. Bürki is now looking to add a first Bundesliga title to the DFB Cup he helped Dortmund win last term.
Winner of the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper award for the past four years, 31-year-old Neuer is a true master of the craft, having revolutionised the position since coming through the youth ranks at Dortmund's local rivals Schalke and joining Bayern in 2011. Agile, athletic and a natural shot-stopper, the so-called 'sweeper-keeper' has helped make the Bavarians' defence one of the meanest in Europe, and his natural leadership qualities have seen him take over the captain's armband for both club and country. The Germany No. 1 is currently sidelined with a foot injury, but will be determined to inspire Bayern to more success when he returns in early 2018.
Now in his third campaign with Bayern, former Stuttgart favourite Ulreich has been thrust to the fore following Manuel Neuer’s second significant injury setback in the space of five months. A former Germany Under-21 international, the 29-year-old Ulreich has largely delivered in the absence of the national team's custodian, producing several fine stops along the way. "I really hope I can fill Manu’s boots well," Ulreich said, adding, "It’s always a bit different when you know that you’re in the spotlight."
At BVB since 2002, the 37-year-old has seen and done it all at the Signal Iduna Park. Weidenfeller may now be back-up to first choice Roman Bürki, but what a presence to have in reserve. With 347 German top-flight games spanning 16 seasons with the Black-Yellows, the former Kaiserslautern custodian is a two-time Bundesliga winner and formed part of the Dortmund side that won a memorable double under coach Jürgen Klopp in 2011-12. Germany’s oldest debutant, Weidenfeller was a member of the 2014 squad that celebrated FIFA World Cup victory in Brazil.
Tasked with filling the mighty large boots of Philipp Lahm, Joshua Kimmich has shown not only the ability to succeed in following in the World Cup-winning captain's footsteps, but perhaps even surpassing him. In addition to his defensive qualities and positional awareness, Kimmich has a ruthless streak which has led to him scoring regularly, and becoming an extra weapon in Bayern's armoury.
An example on and off the field. His experience has been significant in solidifying the Dortmund back-line and helping younger players find their feet, while 'Piszczu' is nothing short of a club hero for his dedication to the club.
The Brazilian with a German passport is "an important player on the field, but also a very popular person in the dressing room," according to Bayern's CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, when he offered him a new contract in December. His off-field entertainment sketches have earned him cult status, but he has proven he can still do a turn on the pitch too, boasting a venomous shot to go with his no-holds-barred tackling.
The UEFA European Under-21 Championship winner forged his reputation at Hoffenheim, switching to Dortmund, where he has shown his ability to play at right or left full-back with equal aplomb, and more is likely to come from a player who delivered three assists from his surging runs forward for Germany's under-21s last summer, and has set one up in just a handful of starts for BVB so far.
In need of a new challenge after coming through the youth ranks at Barcelona, Bartra joined Dortmund in the summer of 2016. Stylish on the ball and handy in the air, the Spaniard soon became an important component of a side that went unbeaten at home last season and won the DFB Cup. Dortmund seemed the perfect match for the 26-year-old as he fell in love with the club and the fans loved him right back.
A technically-gifted and elegant defender, Hummels left Bayern Munich in January 2008 in search of regular first-team football. He got that and more at Borussia Dortmund, forming a rock-solid partnership with Neven Subotic and winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012. The 28-year-old also reached the 2013 UEFA Champions League final and showcased his aerial threat with two goals in Brazil as Germany won the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Named Dortmund skipper in August 2014, he claimed a third Bundesliga title after returning to Bayern last summer.
Toprak caught the eye early in his career by helping Germany win the European under-19 Championship in 2008. He then earned promotion to the Bundesliga with Freiburg a year later before switching to Bayer Leverkusen in 2011. A strong defender with good concentration levels, he featured regularly in the Champions League in six years with Leverkusen. The 28-year-old Turkey international moved to Dortmund this year in the hope of adding to his medal collection.
Zagadou never played for Paris Saint-Germain but he has seized his chance with Dortmund. The France under-18 captain moved to Germany this summer and sporting director Michael Zorc promised that the new signing would immediately be involved with the first team. A quick and towering centre back, the 18-year-old has impressed at left-back this season – helping Dortmund to the top of the table while filling in for injured captain Marcel Schmelzer.
A defender with composure and vision is a rare commodity, but Jerome Boateng ticks all the boxes. Efficient in the tackle, his timing is outstanding, but that is not where his involvement in the game ends. Indeed, he is often the starting point for Bayern's and Germany's attacks – while his stooping headers and venomous shots often see him providing the finishes too.
The Greek defender is not the kind of person you like to have standing between you and the goal. His presence is like Dortmund's second Yellow Wall – an almost impenetrable object in front of his goalkeeper; a player with a passion and determination which embodies everything a working-class fan from Germany's industrial heartland desires from one of their heroes: a man who leaves everything on the pitch.
The battle scars tell it all: Neven Subotic is not afraid to get stuck in, anywhere. The Serbian stopper, who once represented the USA at youth level, has returned from his latest injury absence as fit as a fiddle – "thanks to all that training in the Jürgen Klopp days" – and it is precisely this kind of commitment and tireless running which have endeared him to Dortmund's fans.
For a physically imposing player who can operate at pace – Süle has been clocked at a top speed of 20.3mph – the defender combines neat skills with an improving passing game, while offering plenty of mobility. Those who recall his season-opening goal will not be surprised to learn the gangly defender began his career as a fearsome forward. Since joining Bayern in the summer, he has covered an average ofover six miles per game, misplaced a measly 3.9 per cent of his passes and has been on the ball around 77.6 times whenever he has featured.
Seconds after coming on for his debut against Greuther Fürth in February 2010, Alaba set up the lead goal for Franck Ribery in a DFB Cup tie. It was a scene that has since become very familiar in Germany. Regularly deployed in central midfield for his national team, the Austrian’s versatility is a major plus. Alaba was used in midfield and in a back three under Pep Guardiola but he is best known for raids down the left and combinations with the likes of Ribery. Then, of course, there is the 25-year-old’s pinpoint accuracy with a dead ball. Last season the six-time Bundesliga winner scored three goals from free-kicks.
Bernat was something of a surprise signing when he was brought to Bayern by Pep Guardiola in 2014. The former Valencia player soon stood out though for the speed at which he covers ground as well as the sharpness of his dribbling skills. The 24-year-old was a regular in the side in 2014/15, when Bayern romped to the title in his first year at the club. Injuries have restricted his progress since then but Bernat’s speed and the accuracy of his passing make him an important asset.
Signed midway through Euro 2016, a tournament he ended up winning with Portugal, Guerreiro enjoyed a strong first season with Dortmund. At left-back or in midfield, the French-born player regularly demonstrates impressive close control and a tenacious attitude. His pace and adaptability are impressive, as is his prowess from set pieces. The 23-year-old scored six league goals last campaign – including a thunderous strike when Dortmund visited Munich in April.
A youth academy graduate, Schmelzer knows Borussia Dortmund inside out. He broke into the first team in August 2008 following Jürgen Klopp’s arrival as manager and the current club captain’s rapid development coincided with Die Schwarzgelben’s return to prominence.
Schmelzer played every minute of Dortmund’s 2010/11 Bundesliga-winning campaign and was a key part of a thrilling side known for its impressive pressing off the ball and lightning-quick attacks. A dependable performer who is as well known for creating chances as trying to snuff them out, the 29-year-old was named Dortmund skipper in 2016.
"I'd say I am the most German of all Spanish footballers," said Javi Martinez following his arrival in Munich as the most expensive player the record German champions had recruited up to Corentin Tolisso's arrival in the summer. It was a positive assessment of his own ability, which combines the Spanish touch and fluidity with typical Teutonic discipline and efficiency. The ability to speed things up when needed, or rein things in when required, all while keeping a composure and a bridge between defence and attack.
Short, long, direct or wide – Nuri Sahin has the whole array of passes in his locker, and he knows precisely when to deliver which, and where. His impeccable first touch earns him more time on the ball to consider his options and this also makes him such a key fulcrum in the Dortmund team. Accustomed to sitting back with most of the game taking place in front of him, Sahin's ability to read the game is a boon for Borussia, who can rely on him pinging the ball forward precisely to inspire their counterattacking menace.
Hoffenheim's first ever qualification for Europe last season was as much down to Sebastian Rudy as it was to their potency, with only three teams scoring more in the Bundesliga. To get in front of goal, you need a man who can carve out openings and Rudy, with his cunning movement and incisive passing, was just that man. He is a player who never stands still, dragging opposition players out of position and creating space for that killer ball, which he often delivers.
Sometimes, it is what you do not see which makes the biggest difference, and Julian Weigl is precisely the kind of player you may not particularly notice, yet his link-up play and involvement are crucial to Dortmund's game. It is far easier to remember who provided the goal or the assist, but the man who regains possession and gets an attack moving is arguably equally important and that is where Weigl excels, stealing the ball stealthily before playing an instant pass to keep things moving quickly. It is therefore unsurprising that he does not get noticed much, but his short spells on the ball are worth their weight in gold.
"In his short time here, Gonzo has become an invaluable member of the team both on and off the pitch." So said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc in March 2017, when Castro extended his contract with the club until 2020. Since joining from boyhood club Bayer Leverkusen in July 2015, the 30-year-old has emerged as one of BVB's midfield leaders, scoring 12 goals and providing 21 assists in close to 100 appearances in all competitions. While he is less likely to grab headlines than a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or a Christian Pulisic, Castro's dedication and consistency have made him a firm fan favourite at the Signal Iduna Park.
A summer signing from Borussia Mönchengladbach, Dahoud has already staked a serious claim for a starting place in the Dortmund midfield, even at the age of just 21. It is curious to note that Dortmund have failed to win the three games that the Germany Under-21 international hasn't played in this season, against Freiburg (0-0), RB Leipzig (2-3) and Eintracht Frankfurt (2-2). Like Castro, Dahoud is comfortable in both defensive and attacking roles, and he has already notched up three assists in his six league outings this term.
Tolisso knew expectations would be high when he became Bayern's record signing over the summer, but the former Lyon man hit the ground running with a superb performance on his Bundesliga debut, scoring in a 3-1 win over Leverkusen. The France international has continued to impress at the heart of the champions' midfield - and he underlined his game-winning credentials on Matchday 9, with the only goal in a hard-fought win over Hamburg. At only 23, Tolisso looks set to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Franck Ribery and bring a little French flair to the Allianz Arena.
Let alone vying for a place in our Bayern-Dortmund dream team, Vidal has a legitimate claim as one of the best midfielders in world football, given his talent, influence and full-blooded commitment. 'King Arturo' has won six straight league titles - four with Juventus in Italy and two with Bayern in Germany - as well as back-to-back Copa America crowns with Chile, which tells you all you need to know about his impact. "A warrior can cry, feel fear and disappointment," he wrote after La Roja failed to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup. "But they never give up and never back down."
Nobody can spot gaps as well as well as Thomas Müller, which has led to his nickname of the Raumdeuter, or the Space Invader. It is something the Bayern Munich attacking midfielder has built his reputation on; one of those rare talents who may not be known to excel at one particular thing, but is outstandingly good at pretty much everything. His unorthodox, gamely approach would be laughed at, were he not the 2010 World Cup's top goalscorer with five goals, followed by another five four years later. Diego Maradona once mistook him for a ballboy – even he has since acknowledged that first impressions can be very much deceiving when it comes to Müller.
The youngest foreign goalscorer in the Bundesliga, the youngest to score two in a game and the youngest to score for the USA – in a friendly and competitive fixture – Christian Pulisic is racking up record after record. His performances, which have been improving consistently, are earning recognition too, with only Kylian Mbappe and Gianluigi Donnarumma name ahead of him as the best under-19 players in the world, according to the NxGn list. His goal and assist on the opening day of the current season confirmed that the Hershey, Pennsylvania, native is no longer just a hot prospect – he is the real thing.
There are simply not enough superlatives to describe a player who, no matter how much you know about his strengths, remains nigh on impossible to stop. There is no player who can dip his shoulder and sell a dummy with as much aplomb as the Dutch winger, who is not showing any sign of ageing either – nor are his cunning incursions from the right and arrowed shots into the far corner which have been one of the most feared weapons in European football for well over a decade – and Bayern are understandably glad it is part of their armoury.
Prior to arriving in Dortmund, Yarmolenko had 22 goals in 55 Ukraine appearances on his CV, so it was hardly a surprise that he was on the Westphalians' – and many other clubs' – radar. His strong physique and a blistering pace to boot make him one of the toughest players to mark; when Yarmolenko gets his head down and runs with the ball, hoping and praying may be the best thing defenders can do. Add a venomous shot to his repertoire, and it is clear why the winger has been creating quite some noise since arriving in the Bundesliga.
His goal which clinched the World Cup for Germany in 2014 catapulted his name onto everybody's lips – if it had not been there already. Mario Götze had forged a reputation for being a tricky, skilful talent as some of the brains behind Borussia Dortmund's back-to-back Bundesliga titles, before Bayern – with him then wearing their colours – took a firm grip of matters in Germany. While injuries have tried to knock him off course, the 25-year-old is finding ways to show once again why he was likened to Lionel Messi.
The diminutive Japanese midfielder earned his place in Borussia Dortmund folklore by inspiring them to the title in his first season in Germany. His energy and vitality was imbued into all those around him and, as support to Robert Lewandowski, he scored eight goals in a 15-game unbeaten run at the start of the season, laying the foundations for glory. After a spell in the Premier League, Kagawa returned 'home', where he is thriving on the comforts of his habitat and finding those gaps he used to exploit so well, creating openings which are helping Dortmund continue to score with an extraordinary regularity.
Having gone into double figures in five of the past six seasons, James was the attacking midfielder Bayern were looking for to beef up an already prolific attacking department. His outstanding dribbling qualities – achieved all the while keeping one eye on the movement of his team-mates and providing that killer pass – combined with a fierce left foot make him the ideal player to cut in from the wing and spread danger. He is equally at home just behind the main striker, though, and this flexibility has added another string to Bayern's bow.
When Pep Guardiola took charge of Bayern Munich back in 2013, he had just one request: sign Thiago Alcantara. He had spotted him during his own days as Barcelona coach, and when he led Spain's under-21s as captain and playmaker at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in 2013, he was drooling at the mouth. Thiago stood out in a team brimming with talent, and while injuries may have blighted his time at Bayern, when he has been fit, he has made the difference. His slight frame and size help him skip past opponents as if they were not there, while he has the uncanny ability of spotting the killer pass that not only others would not see – they would not even imagine. He is widely regarded as one of the best in the business, and with 25 trophies already in the closet, it's hard to disagree.
Now in his third season with Bayern, the French winger is beginning to show his full potential with plenty of game time being backed up by a string of consistently impressive performances. Having been in competition with the evergreen Ribery for that starting position on the left, he found playing time limited. Now he has featured in all but one competitive game this year after signing permanently from Juventus, having a hand in five goals during his 15 Bayern appearances in 2017/18 and despite being just 21 year of age, he already has five league titles to his name. More than some of his much senior teammates.
A summer signing from Freiburg, Philipp has almost immediately settled into life at Dortmund under Peter Bosz. The 23-year-old has been an integral part to Borussia’s flying start to the season with five goals and two assists in his nine Bundesliga appearances this term. It has been an electric start from the winger, who has already begun to repay BVB for bringing him to the Signal Iduna Park. Rested for the game against Hannover, Philipp is primed to make his first Klassiker appearance in the Bundesliga following one minute of action in the Supercup earlier this season.
Now a Dortmund veteran in his sixth season with the club, Reus’ talent is undeniable with a goal almost every other game for his club, as well as over 60 assists in over 180 appearances in yellow and black. Included in that was a phenomenal 90 minutes where he scored three and assisted two on his first appearance in several months against Legia Warsaw. They are performances that saw him earn a place on the cover of FIFA17, although a constant string of injuries has curtailed his efforts at playing consistently well at the highest level.
A man who needs little introduction after a decade with the record champions. The Frenchman has won it all during his time in Munich: Seven Bundesliga titles, five DFB Cups, the UEFA Champions League and more. The personal accolades have also flowed freely during the last ten years, including the French Player of the Year, the German Footballer of the Year, the 2012/13 Bundesliga Player of the Year and was the top assist provider in the Bundesliga for back-to-back seasons in 2011/12 and 2012/13. Currently sidelined until 2018 with knee ligament damage, his injury has opened the door to Coman but a fit Franck Ribery is almost a must in any team.
On the verge of becoming the Bundesliga’s highest scoring African player of all time, Aubameyang has been finding the back of the net since the very moment he arrived in Dortmund from Saint-Etienne. In fact, he found it three times on his Bundesliga debut against Augsburg and has not looked back since. Over 130 goals in 200 appearances for BVB, the Gabon captain has been the club’s top scorer for the last three seasons, and last year pipped his rival Lewandowski to the Bundesliga’s Torjägerkanone with 31 goals – only the second non-German to break the 30-goal barrier – and already has ten in ten this term. His performances have been recognised internationally as he was awarded the 2015 African Footballer of the Year, as well as finishing runner-up twice. The league’s top scorer and the match-winning goal in the 2017 DFB Cup final must make him a favourite for the title again this year.
One man who has crossed the divide from Dortmund to Bayern, it is almost impossible to switch off the Polish goalscoring machine. Lewy netted 103 times in 187 appearances for BVB but has been even more prolific since moving to Munich in 2014. Over 120 goals in 160 games for Bayern, Lewandowski has been collecting trophies and accolades like they’re going out of fashion. Five Bundesliga titles have accompanied two top scorer crowns, including a 30-goal haul in 2015/16 to become the first non-German to reach that mark in a Bundesliga season. He has been named Polish Footballer of the Year for the last six years in a row, had a street named after him, has four world records in the Bundesliga (with 3 coming from his five-goal haul as a substitute against Wolfsburg) and four for Poland – including the record for most goals in UEFA European Championship qualification (13) and European FIFA World Cup qualification (16).
Signing for Dortmund from Solna in January 2017, Isak arrived in the Bundesliga with a large reputation despite being just 17 years of age. Known as the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his homeland, he became Sweden’s youngest ever goalscorer with a strike against Slovakia in February. Featuring mainly for the Borussia reserves so far, Isak found his chance in the first team for the recent DFB Cup match at Magdeburg and took it with both hands to provide a goal and an assist as the defending champions progressed to set up a last-16 Klassiker at Bayern.
Kwasi Okyere Wriedt
Hamburg-born Wriedt has had a long journey to the first team of the record German champions. Turning out for St Pauli, Osnabrück and Lüneburger Hansa, the 23-year-old joined the Bayern reserves at the start of the season and immediately impressed with nine goals in 12 appearances. Those performances were enough to catch the eye of new coach Jupp Heynckes, who immediately included him in his first matchday squad against Freiburg. Wriedt has featured in every domestic squad since then and made his first-team debut for the Bavarians as an extra-time substitute in the penalty shootout victory over RB Leipzig in the DFB Cup.