Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac hit the nail on the head when he said he had "three world-class centre-backs" in Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Niklas Süle, and that he has something of a luxury being able to rotate the trio.
bundesliga.com has crunched the numbers in the way Bayern's defensive trio crunch into their tackles to evaluate who Kovac's most reliable stopper really is, and to assist the Croatian coach with that headache-provoking conundrum of how to fit three centre-backs into two slots in his side.
His average of 6.3 miles covered per game was the highest of the trio, and that included 15.7 sprints at a top speed of more than 21 miles per hour. At such a rate, he will be in need of a rest, which is why Kovac's rotation policy could well get the best out of all three and boost all of their performance figures, keeping them physically fit and mentally sharp for when it matters.
"I hope [Kovac] uses squad rotation throughout the season," Hummels said. "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."
Rather than highlighting who Bayern's best central defender is, then, the crunched numbers confirm that the collective is key. Kovac has, in his own words, three of the finest around – three players who bring something different to the table and, when combined correctly, complement each other in a way which gives him arguably the best central-defensive pair in world football, whichever two play.