VfL Wolfsburg’s high-functioning triumvirate of Julian Draxler, Max Kruse and Andre Schürrle combined to fire the Wolves into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, making them the latest magisches Dreieck or 'magic triangle' to write themselves into German football legend.
Mention 'magisches Dreieck' to VfB Stuttgart fans, and their faces will light up at the thought of the original trio to earn themselves that moniker – Giovane Elber, Fredi Bobic and Krassimir Balakov – back in the mid-1990s.
There have been others since…bundesliga.com looks back with great fondness at some of the most striking trios of the 21st century.
2001/02 Bayer 04 Leverkusen – Ballack, Berbatov & Schneider
With Michael Ballack - the midfield all-rounder – Bernd Schneider - the old-fashioned winger - and Dimitar Berbatov - the flamboyant centre forward - combining to devastating effect on a weekly basis, it looked for all the world like Die Werkself would at last shake off the 'Eternal Bridesmaids' sobriquet. Instead, the trio’s combined goals (38) and assists (29) proved a mere footnote as Leverkusen surrendered a five-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table with three games remaining, before losing 2-1 to Real Madrid CF and 4-2 to FC Schalke 04 in the finals of the UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup respectively.
2003/04 SV Werder Bremen – Klasnic, Ailton & Micoud
Current Bremen boss Viktor Skripnik was in the Green-Whites’ title-winning side, but it was their fearsome attacking threesome that fuelled that success. While French playmaker Johann ‘Le Chef’ Micoud cooked up some delicious final passes, Ivan Klasnic and Ailton – whose nicknames, ‘The Killer’ and ‘Lightning Ball’, explain everything - greedily gobbled them up en route to the Meisterschale. They delivered 51 goals between them with Ailton’s 28 earning him the Torjägerkanone.
2009/10 VfL Wolfsburg – Grafite, Dzeko & Misimovic
Edin Dzeko, Grafite and Zvjezdan Misimovic formed arguably THE most potent trio German football has ever seen. Their stats take the breath away: a league-high 28 goals for Grafite and 26 for Dzeko make them the most prolific partnership the Bundesliga has ever seen; 20 assists for pass-master Misimovic was also a Bundesliga record. Outrageously spectacular, Grafite’s backheel finish in a 5-1 defeat of FC Bayern München during the Wolves’ maiden title-winning season sums it up.
2011/12 Borussia Mönchengladbach – Arango, Hanke & Reus
Borussia Mönchengladbach fans enjoyed two wins over FC Bayern during the 2011/12 campaign, but it was the second just after the turn of the year in which the Foals’ ‘magic triangle’ shone brightest. Marco Reus scored one and chipped in with an assist on the night, in a performance that elevated him to megastar-in-waiting status. The soon-to-be-Borussia Dortmund forward was the baby face of an otherwise ageing forward line comprising the brilliantly gifted Venezuelan left-sider Juan Arango and former Germany international striker Mike Hanke. The eccentric triumvirate may only have posted 16 goals – 10 of them for Reus – but their influence was unmistakeable as a Gladbach side that had only narrowly avoided relegation 12 months earlier finished fourth.
2010-12 Borussia Dortmund – Lewandowski, Blaszczykowski & Kagawa
For two memorable seasons, Borussia Dortmund were the scourge of FC Bayern. To start with, very little was known about influential troika Jakub Blaszczykowski, Shinji Kagawa and Robert Lewandowski, but by the time BVB wrapped up their fifth Bundesliga title at the end of 2011, all three were household names at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK. A league and cup double followed in 2012, with the effervescent 'Kagkowski' responsible for 127 of the Ruhr district club's 186 goals in all competitions between 2010/11-2011/12.
2012/13 FC Bayern München – Ribery, Robben & Mandzukic
Before the days of Lewandowski, Bayern had Mario Mandzukic. The athletic Croatia international's debut season at the club yielded 22 goals in all competitions, five of which came by way of either a Franck Ribery or Arjen Robben assist. Ribery's breathtaking performances - 10 goals and 15 assists in 27 Bundesliga appearances - provided the foundation for the French winger's subsequent Ballon d'Or nomination, while his accomplice on the opposite flank - although restricted to 31 appearances through injury - netted the winner in the final of the 2012/13 Champions League against Dortmund at Wembley Stadium. Unsurprisingly, all three were involved as Bayern wrapped up an unprecedented treble with victory over VfB Stuttgart in the DFB Cup final.