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Bavarian Football Works Squad Ranking | November 28, 2013

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Thiago Alcântara's return restated the importance of his transfer from one Champions League winner to another, while Bastian Schweinsteiger's lengthy injury has made him a tough player to rely on.

Dennis Grombkowski

The month of November has flown by, and tough tests in the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League behind them. Not a bad time to revise the squad rankings, eh?

In case you are new to this, the BFW writers rank the Bayern Munich players in squad importance. Form, leadership, role, or hairstyle could all come into account. The endgame is to determine who we consider FC Bayern's best team at the moment, factoring in injured players who could sorely be missed.

Whatever latent subjectivity we each have will be washed out in the aggregate rank, using the previous rank as a guideline in how their importance has changed. With such a deep squad, some decisions might be unexplainable, but someone has to be first, and someone has to be twentieth.

Players Cowper Hasib Quinn Schroder VanOpdorp Aggregate Previous
Toni Kroos 1 1 5 1 3 1 5
Philipp Lahm Flesh Wound: en retour demain 3 3 3 2 2 2 1
Manuel Neuer 2 5 1 6 1 3 2
Franck Ribéry Flesh Wound: en retour demain 4 12 2 4 4 4 3
Arjen Robben 9 2 6 5 6 5 9
Jérôme Boateng 11 4 4 3 11 6 T10
David Alaba 7 7 9 9 8 7 T7
Mario Götze 5 8 7 14 9 8 12
Mario Mandžukić 12 11 8 7 7 9 6
Thomas Müller
6 9 10 11 12 10 T10
Dante 14 6 12 12 5 11 T7
Bastian Schweinsteiger Flesh Wound: en retour demain 8 13 11 8 10 12 4
Thiago Alcântara 10 16 15 17 14 13 19
Rafinha 13 14 14 10 13 14 T13
Javier Martínez 15 10 13 13 15 15 15
Daniel van Buyten 16 15 19 15 16 16 16
Xherdan Shaqiri Flesh Wound: en retour demain 17 17 16 16 18 17 T13
Diego Contento Flesh Wound: en retour demain 18 18 17 19 17 18 17
Jan Kirchhoff 19 19 18 19 19 18
Tom Starke 20 20 18 21 20 20
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg 22 20 20 20 21
Claudio Pizarro Flesh Wound: en retour demain 21 22 21

Key:
= rank increase
= rank decrease
Flesh Wound: en retour demain = injured
"-" = Not Ranked

Promotion

Thiago Alcântara

What a debut! Out since August with syndesmosis tear, Thiago came back and was on the shortlist of Pep's top performers against Borussia Dortmund. With some injuries in the midfield, the 22-year-old Spaniard finally will get the playing time he craved at Barcelona. The combination of him and Kroos in the middle of the field will be a passing expo.

Relegation

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Harsh, considering he has been dealing with issues in his surgically repaired ankle the entire season. With him shelved until play resumes in January 2014, it is hard to have high expectations on Schweinsteiger in the center of the park, let alone depend on him. There is no question on his talent and his importance, but with Lahm now experienced in the holding midfield role and Thiago and Martínez providing depth on that line of four, his return is not as essential as before. Rest and get well, Mr. Schweinsteiger.

Defending Ranks

Thomas Müller (Ryan Cowper's Rank: 6 | Aggregate: 10) – Thomas Müller is the every position attacking man. Left wing, right wing, CAM, false 10, striker. He can everywhere for Pep Guardiola and he can every position well. With the ever mounting pile of bodies in the doctor's and trainers room, Müller gives Pep Guardiola the freedom to utilize some of his more restricted players in their best positions and maintain the attacking integrity of the entire team. In addition, the unique spatial understanding and manipulation he brings to the table is one of the reasons why Mario Götze has been able to string together so many brilliant performances in a row for Bayern Munich. The two of them together form an incredible trio with the prodigious passing acumen of Toni Kroos that Bayern Munich is relying on right now while the rest of their attacking core, including their Ballon d'Or hopeful, are being poked and prodded by Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller- Wohlfarth.

Arjen Robben (Samrin Hasib's Rank: 2 | Aggregate: 5) – Franck Ribery's excellence is undeniable; however, even Guardiola is aware of the importance of Robben. The one-trick pony has a trick which no one has an answer to. Bayern's excellence depends on Robben. In recent weeks, he has shown just how important he is; he scored the crucial second against Borussia Dortmund and has just scored Bayern's first in the snow of Russia. Robben's contributions to this Bayern team are sometimes underestimated. Especially with the current injury list, Robben is crucial to the team's hopes.

Toni Kroos (Phillip Quinn's Rank: 5 | Aggregate: 1) – Thus far, Kroos has been the most consistent midfielder for Bayern, if only due to the fact that he has managed to stay healthy all season while everyone else around him drops like flies.  However, his ranking is less about him and more about the other players that I have ranked ahead of him. To me, the most important player in this Bayern team is Manuel Neuer. Every other position on the field has a player that can step in a do a job almost equal to the regular starter except goalkeeper. I like Tom Starke, but I would much rather have Neuer in goal. Franck Ribery and Philipp Lahm being ranked where they are is pretty self-explanatory. I ranked Jerome Boateng at number four on my list, because at many points of the season, he has been the anchor holding that backline together through some shaky play. Don't get me wrong, Kroos is a huge part of this team, but a few other's are more important right now.

Dante (Davis VanOpdorp's Rank: 5 | Aggregate: 11) and Jérôme Boateng (VanOpdorp's Rank: 11 | Aggregate: 6) – Boateng's physical attributes are undeniable, his size, his strength, and his pace. Dante's attributes are comparable, making the two one of the best center back pairings in the world. Both handle and pass the ball well for their positions to boot. That being said, Dante's man-marking skills to me are vastly superior, and Boateng still makes crucial mistakes that leads to dangerous attempts or goals. Boateng is having likely the best season of his career, but I would still select Dante to my team sheet before Boateng.

Growth Potential

Schweinsteiger's gloom could be Javier Martínez's boom, as he now has a chance to show why he deserves week in, week out XI selection. The added absence of Lahm for two matches gives the Spaniard more of a window for regular pitch time. If his defensive presence and midfield direction can be up a degree, he might prove to his gaffer that putting him over Rafinha is the better option and he and Schweinsteiger deserve simultaneous pitch time.