Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben (l.-r.) have seen and done it all with Bayern Munich down the years. - © © imago
Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben (l.-r.) have seen and done it all with Bayern Munich down the years. - © © imago

Robbery, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan and the Bundesliga's Top 10 telepathic understandings


You'll be hard pressed to find a more enduring and effective partnership than the one currently shared by Bayern Munich wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, but there are a fair few Bundesliga duos who have come close.

1. Robbery (Bayern) picks out the best superhero-sidekick combos of recent years...

A wing partnership that is so good it even has its own nickname, the quite brilliant understanding between Ribery and Robben - aka Robbery - has defined one of the most successful eras in Bayern history. Both are the archetypal inverted wingers: Ribery, a right-footer who has spent the last decade dazzling on the Bayern left; and Robben, whose signature angled run and curled left-footed finish remains as feared by opposition defenders today as it was when he started out in football 18 years ago. They have shared countless highs - six Bundesliga titles and the redemptive 2012/13 UEFA Champions League final triumph over Borussia Dortmund in which Ribery set up Robben for the winner - and their fair share of lows - various injury setbacks and the Finale Dahoam Champions League final defeat to Chelsea in 2012. Yet here they are - 34 years young, conceivably as good as they ever were. If and when they do leave - both are out of contract in the summer - it would be fitting that they do so in tandem, their place in Bayern legend sealed for eternity.

Watch: Arjen Robben's top 5 Bundesliga goals

2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund)

A close personal friendship is also at the heart of the duo who were the main catalysts behind Borussia Dortmund's stunning 2015/16 season. Though they finished runners-up to Bayern in the league, Thomas Tuchel's men were the Bundesliga's top scorers, plundering a massive 82 goals that term. Aubameyang struck 25 with his Armenia international cohort hitting 11 and laying on a further 20. "They are players who have played together, who know each other well and have had a successful period together," said the Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who reunited 'Auba' and 'Miki' at the Emirates Stadium last month hoping for some Dortmund deja vu. "We are an offensive team and that's why I hope they can recreate that perfect understanding they had at Dortmund."

Watch: Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan do The Running Man

3. Timo Werner & Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig)

RB Leipzig's debut Bundesliga season could hardly have gone better, and the 2016/17 runners-up owe a great debt for that to these two. Seven of Forsberg's league-high 19 laser-guided final balls provided Werner with the opportunity to score; the former Stuttgart striker eventually tallied 21 goals in his breakthrough season to finish as the division's leading German scorer and earn a call-up from Joachim Löw. Werner set up four of Forsberg's eight league strikes last term, and while injury for the Sweden international has hindered their 2017/18 so far, they have a bright future.

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6. Philipp Max and Caiuby (Augsburg)

At the start of the season, the Augsburg pair would not have been in this discussion, but to now leave them out would be a glaring omission. The fact they have featured in every game to date has helped them forge one of the most productive partnerships in the league. While Max has propelled himself into contention for a place in Germany's World Cup squad with ten assists, he owes his Brazilian team-mate a debt of thanks for turning half of them into goals. "I only need a look to know what he is thinking, and he knows what to expect from me," explained Caiuby, whose telepathic reading of his team-mate's delivery has enabled him to score a league-high three times from corners. "For me, we have one of the best left flanks in the league." Few would argue…

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7. Raul & Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke)

After getting a feel for each other's game at Real Madrid, where Huntelaar never came close to matching Raul's iconic status, they teamed up again in Gelsenkirchen. Though they won the 2010/11 DFB Cup together — Raul scoring in the semis against Bayern; Huntelaar doubling up in the final against Duisburg — the following season was when they clicked devastatingly. They combined for 44 of Schalke's 74 league goals that season with Huntelaar striking a league-high 29 as the Royal Blues finished third. His strike rate of 48 goals in as many competitive outings that season was directly and indirectly helped by his Spanish strike partner, whose formidable reputation meant opposing defences focussed on Raul, affording 'The Hunter' valuable time and space.

Watch: Raul's top 5 Bundesliga goals

8. Neven Subotic & Mats Hummels (Dortmund)

Partnerships are also about stopping goals, and Dortmund’s centre-back duo were the rock on which Jürgen Klopp built back-to-back Bundesliga title triumphs. Not merely reliant on their imposing six-foot-plus physiques, Subotic and Hummels' clarity in reading the game and covering for each other ensured opponents always struggled to create openings, never mind score goals. It says much about their qualities that Dortmund boasted the best defensive record when they won the 2010/11 title with the second-most prolific attack. The following campaign, they were crowned champions with the most goals in the league, and yet still had the third-best defence. "Mats was already one of the best defenders in Germany two years ago. Now he’s the best by some distance," said an admiring Subotic, who was not far behind.

Caiuby and Philipp Max (l.-r.) have been in flying form for Augsburg so far this season. - © imago

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- © imago
- © imago
Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey (l.-r.) have fuelled a resurgent Leverkusen's top-four push in 2017/18. - © gettyimages / Matthias Hangst

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