When Julian Wolf from Die Welt asked Paul Breitner who at Bayern Munich is "irreplaceable", the former defender/midfielder said only three names: Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer, and Franck Ribéry.
That got some of the writers thinking: is that really it? Some mentioned Bastian Schweinsteiger as irreplacable as well, but after a three and a half month absence with FC Bayern not missing a beat, that might not be the case anymore.
The argument of the invaluable could rage on, so to save years of altercation and millions of lives, the BFW staff got together once again to put together an FC Bayern squad ranking.
For those new to this post, this is not the performance index that you might be looking for. This list is the individual takes of our writers on the importance and role of each player in the squad, culminated into an aggregate rank. The endgame is to create what we would consider a best XI, or a team sheet of 18 that would do battle on the highest of occasions. Injured players are included to project an urgency for their return.
Before the bright lights shine at the Emirates Stadium, here is the BFW squad ranking:
|Daniel van Buyten||18||19||17||–||16||19||16|
= rank increase
= rank decrease
"-" = not ranked
He came back from injury right after Bastian Schweinsteiger had to be shelved with ankle problems. While the assumed injury replacement for the vice-captain, Thiago has proved to be much more than that. He has played as a holding midfielder, a deep-lying play maker, and as an attacking play maker. His pinpoint passing combined with a high work rate has made it difficult for Guardiola to consider sitting him – he has started every match between his return against Borussia Dortmund and his rest at the weekend against SC Freiburg. In Schweinsteiger's return, Guardiola will likely look elsewhere than Thiago to fit him in.
His defense has not been the issue, for his recent performances have been some of the best of his season. What is glaring is how the load on the defense has shrunk with an average possession north of 70 percent since January, although Boateng is still a big part of that statistic. Philipp Lahm's midfield presence has left the back less exposed, as is the slow transition to a double pivot central midfield. Boateng's services are not expendable, but the defensive load resting on his shoulders has lightened in recent weeks.
Franck Ribéry (Samrin Hasib's Rank: 10 | Aggregate: 4) – He has been fantastic but Bayern has made their way through some arguably easy fixtures without his help reasonably well. His true value will perhaps be measured by his absence in the first leg against Arsenal. Those above him aside from perhaps Thiago have had bigger roles to play in the side recently and thus, for the current squad ranking, at least for me, Monsieur Franck must take a back seat.
Arjen Robben (Phillip Quinn's Rank: 11 | Aggregate: 6) – Good gracious. These rankings are getting tougher each and every time. I have Robben a little lower than everyone else, and that was hard to do. There's no questioning Robben's place in this team; however, I think it's now fair to look at other available options and say, "Yeah, that guy is more valuable at this point." If I look at the attacking midfield position, I only rank Shaqiri as being "less valuable" to the team at this point, and I believe that it's a completely fair assessment. With all that said, a healthy Robben is still a world class player. I'm probably ranking him too low at this point, and hopefully he'll make me look silly in the weeks and months to come.
David Alaba (Scott Schroder's Rank: 15 | Aggregate: 10) – My ranking of Alaba isn't any sort of a knock against him, just that he seems less important than the men in front of him. Rafinha seems more involved in the attack, though that's partially due to Ribery's injury, and the fullbacks just aren't really nekeded defensively very often. Boateng and Dante even contribute more going forward with their passes out of the back. t just seems like right now, David is a little limited compared to the others. In conclusion; still valuable, but he has more talent around him.
Thomas Müller (Davis VanOpdorp's Rank: 11 | Aggregate: 8) – He remains the most versatile player in the squad, able to play every attacking position. The drawback for being so adaptable is that players with primary purpose positions occupy the spots on the pitch better than he does. If and when Mario Götze, Mario Mandzukic, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben are healthy, Guardiola will be hard pressed to find a spot for Müller, unless a match-up dictates his particular skill set. Sometimes, being good at a lot of things is not as valuable as being great at one thing.
Schweinsteiger's fitness restoration will undoubtedly increase his status within the club. That given in mind, Daniel van Buyten's paired return could restore his status as a much needed back-up defender. The Belgian's importance increased with the loan transfer of Jan Kirchhoff, and he has the defensive prowess that Javier Martínez does not. He likely will not get many a game, but a packed schedule through March and April will bring opportunities to play.
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- Bayern Munich vs. SC Freiburg | Match Recap & Analysis
- Xherdan Shaqiri Injured Against SC Freiburg; Winger to Miss Arsenal Match