The Bundesliga is renowned as a league that combines the best that world champions Germany have to offer with some of the planet's biggest international stars.
That those two strands are so prevalent in almost every top-flight match got bundesliga.com wondering: what would happen if an all-German Bundesliga XI took on a non-German Bundesliga XI?
With both sides lining up in 4-2-3-1 formations, here's how we think this mouth-watering fixture would pan out...
ALL-GERMAN BUNDESLIGA XI
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany)
Who else to start in goal for an all-German Bundesliga XI than Germany's best-ever keeper? Yes, he might have missed most of the 2017/18 campaign due to a foot injury, but Neuer has revolutionised the way we understand not only the game, but also the role of the man between the sticks. The former Schalke custodian would quite literally get the ball rolling in this Germany XI, and another asset is that he already knows most of his defensive colleagues well after years on the same side.
Watch: Neuer's best saves
Joshua Kimmich (Bayern and Germany)
Another shoo-in: there are few right-backs in the world better than Kimmich, let alone in Germany. The Bayern youngster has filled the retired Philipp Lahm's shoes with consummate ease, and has also – dare we say it? – added a touch more finesse to the champions' attacking game. Pinpoint crosses to the back post would be meat and drink for Marco Reus, while Timo Werner would relish running in behind onto those inch-perfect slide-rule passes, perfected during Kimmich's youth as a central midfielder.
Jerome Boateng(Bayernand Germany)
One half of the world's finest centre-back partnership, Boateng is not so much a defender as a quarterback, the Berlin native capable of spraying a pass to either flank off either foot – you won't have to imagine him pinging a crossfield pass to Reus for too much longer if both make it into Germany's World Cup squad as expected. Blessed with a good turn of pace and powerful in the air, Boateng has developed into a top-notch centre-back in Munich, and possesses more than enough of a football brain to cover for the occasional marauding forward runs of future club-mate Leon Goretzka.
Mats Hummels(Bayernand Germany)
The other half of the world's best centre-back partnership, Hummels' place in this side was never really in doubt, despite decent claims from Borussia Mönchengladbach's Matthias Ginter (enjoying his best-ever goalscoring season), RB Leipzig's Willi Orban and his Bayern teammate Niklas Süle. Hummels can score goals with the best of them – he is always a threat in the air from set-pieces, and so would thrive off Philipp Max's centres – and is perhaps one of the world's best at the outside-of-the-boot pass, which Reus and Werner would need no second invitation to chase.
A left-field candidate perhaps, but Max has enjoyed a stellar campaign, helping to propel unfashionable Augsburg to the fringes of the European places while setting a single-season record for assists for a defender. Hummels and Boateng would be salivating over the Schalke youth product's set-piece delivery, while Werner and Thomas Müller would no doubt enjoy his crosses from open play.
Max Meyer (Schalke and Germany)
One half of the midfield duo that has helped Schalke back to the European places, Meyer has been remarkably remodelled as a holding midfielder par excellence by Domenico Tedesco. Still only 22 but boasting plenty of experience (he was the fourth-youngest player to make 100 Bundesliga appearances), the Schalke youth product has put any doubts about how his slight frame would fare in holding midfield to rest with a string of tenacious performances. The star-studded attacking and defensive units would also appreciate Meyer's work ethic and intelligent retention of possession.
Leon Goretzka(Schalkeand Germany)
The other half of that impressive Schalke midfield duo, Goretzka has recently been in the headlines for his decision to join Bayern in the summer, but in truth, his on-field displays have been far more newsworthy. Although occasionally ungainly, that should not distract from the talent of a quite brilliant young midfielder, whose understanding of the game outstrips many older colleagues. Goretzka would slot perfectly into this side as the No.8 or link man, shifting the ball from Meyer to the attacking midfielders, while also making those late runs into the box to meet any crosses from Kimmich or Max.
Watch: Goretzka's top 5 goals
Thomas Müller (Bayern and Germany)
Since this is the big stage, who better than the man for the big occasion? Goals in UEFA Champions League finals, FIFA World Cup semi-finals and DFB Cup finals adorn Müller's impressive CV – the attacking midfielder is perhaps the epitome of the German football mentality. Nominally stationed on the right flank, Müller's foraging runs inside would serve two purposes: they would fill the space left by Goretzka's mazy wanderings, and would open up space on the wing for Kimmich to overlap and cross. For those who might suggest that Müller and Mario Götze are too similar to play together: the pair won three Bundesliga titles together at Bayern, and the World Cup with Germany.
Mario Götze(Borussia Dortmundand Germany)
Bayer Leverkusen's Julian Brandt had a strong claim in this position, but Götze's recent upturn in form under Peter Stöger at Dortmund combined with oodles of experience alongside Reus and Müller swings it his way. While that World Cup-winning goal back in 2014 served notice of his talent, that Götze has perhaps failed to hit those heights regularly since should not detract from his game-turning ability – indeed, see his recent assist for Michy Batshuayi in the UEFA Europa League for proof that he's still more than 'got it' (if he ever lost it in the first place). As Götze's goalscoring has become less prodigious, his creativity and general influence from a deeper role have increased correspondingly. Reus, Werner and Müller would no doubt be licking their lips.
Marco Reus(Dortmundand Germany)
Germany have not enjoyed a fully fit and firing Reus since 2012, which is a shame because a fully fit and firing Reus is one of the best sights in the modern game. While the attacking midfielder's injury problems are well documented, it's worth teasing ourselves as to how Reus would slot into this side. With overlapping full-backs, Müller drifting infield and Götze probing from deep, the Dortmund forward would essentially be a second striker, with lethal licence to roam behind Werner. With Götze, Meyer, Max and Kimmich putting chances on a plate, Reus would be unstoppable.
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig and Germany)
Well versed in the high press, quick enough to leave a defensive line chasing shadows and a clinical finisher, Werner is the prototype modern striker. The 22-year-old has enhanced his game at Leipzig and is now comfortable either leading the line on his own or playing with a partner; combining with a free-roaming Reus would present no problem. Although perhaps not the best in the air (better to leave that to Hummels and Boateng, anyway), Werner more than makes up for that deficiency with expert finishing off either foot: if Max and Kimmich cross low into the six-yard box, he will more often than not make the opposition pay.
Jupp Heynckes (Bayern)
Who else could coach the Bundesliga's all-German XI but the man who has seemingly managed – and enjoyed success at – almost all of Germany's major clubs (Bayern, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt, Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen)? More than capable of whipping a ragtag bunch of players into a high-performing unit (see Bayern this season), Heynckes would ensure this side hits the ground running. Furthermore, given that the German XI is to face a non-German XI, Heynckes' continental expertise, having reached the UEFA Champions League final in all three seasons he has coached in the competition, would come in very handy indeed.
NON-GERMAN BUNDESLIGA XI
Jiri Pavlenka (Werder Bremen and Czech Republic)
Petr Cech's long-term heir between the Czech Republic sticks, Pavlenka is first and foremost an excellent shot-stopper, boasting the highest save percentage in the Bundesliga this season. He’ll need all those reflexes against a fearsome opposition attack, but it's not just for his shot-stopping that the 25-year-old got the nod – with the best long-pass distribution in the top flight, Pavlenka is adept at launching swift, direct counterattacks, a valuable trait in any keeper.
Lukasz Piszczek (Dortmund and Poland)
An institution on the Dortmund right flank since 2010, BVB have not lost a game with the Piszczek in the side since November 2016. Although now 32, the Pole is a thoroughly modern full-back, capable of keeping up with whippersnapper young wingers at one end and then bounding up the other to deliver a pinpoint pass or cross. As that unbeaten record testifies, the former Hertha defender improves any side, and a right flank of Piszczek and Arjen Robben – two of the Bundesliga's most recognisable faces this decade – is a daunting prospect. How he would approach the task of defending against Dortmund colleague Reus is fascinating.
Hurriedly thrown together, a mish-mash of a team like this non-German Bundesliga XI needs a leader to bind it together: enter Naldo, known to all at Schalke as "papiii" – the daddy. The Brazilian, whose performances have put him in the frame for a place in Brazil's World Cup squad, offers more than just leadership. Naldo is excellent in the air (and tends to play well against Werner), rarely misplaces a pass and is always a threat in dead-ball situations. A shoo-in.
Dayot Upamecano(Leipzigand France U21)
How exciting a centre-back partnership would Naldo and Upamecano be? Complementing each other perfectly, Naldo could rise high to win the aerial duels, while Upamecano would rely on his pace to hoover up behind the big Brazilian. With the German opposition XI expected to press high – could a German side play any other way? – the Frenchman's inside knowledge of the Leipzig pressing machine could also come in very handy.
David Alaba(Bayernand Austria)
Speaking of inside knowledge, Alaba pitting himself against Kimmich and Müller would be a fascinating tussle. The Bundesliga's best left-back, the Austrian has thrived under Heynckes' guidance this season and has returned to top form, evidenced by his regular rampages forward to shoot and cross at will. If Müller's wanderings left too much space down the flank, Alaba would need no second invitation to gallop forward.
Naby Keita (Leipzig and Guinea)
Given both players' feisty natures, it would likely cause a few dust-ups between Keita and Arturo Vidal as to who sat deeper when the other went forward. That said, if those dust-ups were settled amicably, what a midfield they would form. Keita's preternatural dribbling skills perfectly complement Vidal's battering-ram approach, meaning Meyer and Goretzka – hardly averse to coming forward themselves – would have to be on their guard at all times, particularly given that all of Keita's goals this season bar one have come from outside the box. Give the diminutive Guinean an inch, and he'll take several yards – and then probably the net off.
Watch: Keita's best goals
Arturo Vidal(Bayernand Chile)
While Thiago is a fine player (and narrowly missed out on selection), Vidal's red-hot Indian summer wins him a place in midfield alongside the Leipzig playmaker. For the Chilean, there would be an element of personal needle in the battle against Goretzka, the man who will attempt to take his Bayern throne in 2018/19. Scoring for fun – this is his best campaign for goals since arriving in Bavaria in 2015 – Vidal is a threat in the air and is capable of keeping a side ticking, having completed more passes than Keita or Goretzka this term.
Arjen Robben (Bayern and the Netherlands)
As mentioned, the Robben-Piszczek right flank would be one to savour. A goalscorer and creator in equal measure, Robben needs no introduction, but suffice to say that, for all his impressive attacking attributes, Max would have his work cut out even trying to get forward against the ever-demanding Robben. The flying Dutchman cutting inside to shoot on that wrecking ball of a left foot and the Polish full-back then occupying the wide space would be quite a combination.
James Rodriguez(Bayernand Colombia)
It has long been a football truism that clever players tend to up their game when surrounded by other clever players. Imagine, then, James surrounded by Bailey and Keita, as well as his existing Bayern teammates. The options when the Colombian had the ball would be endless – and you wouldn't bet against him drifting into plenty of space against Meyer and Goretzka. Perhaps the only problem in such a star-studded attacking line is who James would have to fight off to claim free-kick duties.
Leon Bailey(Bayer Leverkusen)
While Bailey's international allegiance remains in question, his talent most certainly is not. Explosive, dynamic and with an eye for the spectacular, Bailey earns his place thanks to a stunning breakout season, during which his hair-raising counterattacks have taken Bayer back to the brink of the European places. Even a full-back as talented as Kimmich would struggle to keep the Jamaican winger quiet for 90 minutes.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern and Poland)
The best striker in the Bundesliga, and perhaps the world, Lewandowski had to be in this side. Having recently brought up a century of Bundesliga goals for Bayern, the Pole is at the peak of his powers – and would thrive off the service delivered not only by his current Bayern teammates and Keita, but also from Bailey and international colleague Piszczek. Lewandowski 's duel with Boateng and Hummels – as at UEFA EURO 2016 – alone would be worth the entry fee.
Niko Kovac (Eintracht Frankfurt)
To get a team composed of 10 different nationalities performing instantly, best to turn to a man with a track record of doing just that. Born in Berlin but a Croatia international, former Bayern midfielder Kovac has moulded an Eintracht Frankfurt squad of 16 nationalities into one of the Bundesliga's most solid, relentless outfits. Given how well he manages to unite nations, the 46-year-old might well end up being nicknamed Secretary General by his new charges.