As the world is navigating this tumultuous time thanks to COVID-19, I wanted to figure out a way to bring some fun into our lives. Nearly all sports throughout the world have been halted, and we’re all suffering from the itch that sports scratch that just isn’t getting scratched right now.
ENTER: Build a Bayern Munich Best XI from the last decade featuring a squad of players from eleven different countries. That’s right. There can only be one German, one Frenchman, one Spaniard, etc. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. Not only do you have to pick the players, but they must also fit into an actual playable formation. You’re not allowed to come up here with a silly 2-5-1 formation or anything like that.
Let’s see what our staff managed to come up with.
John was the only person who selected Philipp Lahm as their German, so that’s where I wanted more details. Why, of all of the great Germans that have suited up for Bayern over the last decade, was Lahm the guy?
I chose Lahm at right-back instead of Neuer in goal because I think, of all the German players who played for Bayern, Lahm was really the best, most consistent, and least replaceable. If not Lahm, then who at right-back? The decision was a little easier because Pepe Reina played briefly in Munich. I thought about the players in the abstract, over their careers. Reina can approach Neuer’s level, but nobody could touch Lahm.
A big situation facing everyone in this test was who do you pick to play centerback? With every person going with a non-German at centerback, that meant there would need to be some interesting combination of the various internationals of have suited up for Bayern over the years. Teddy chose David Alaba and Daniel van Buyten as his pairing, so I wanted to know why the big Belgian instead of Martin Demichelis.
I picked Van Buyten because he stayed at Bayern for quite some time (longer than Demichelis or Benatia) and also because he was pretty reliable up until his retirement when called upon. Plus I think him popping that ball during one of his free kicks was pretty funny.
Marcus threw me for a minor loop when I saw the ultra-defensive central midfield pairing of Javi Martinez and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. Obviously, that’s where we needed to dig in. Why was that the duo in the center of the park?
Playing a 4-4-2, I will set up my squad tactics in the same way Diego Simeone does to his Atletico Madrid or the masterful Janne Andersson does with the team that would have won the European Championship in 2020 (Sweden of course). Hence I’ve settled with two defensive midfielders, Javi Martinez and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, who will stay low in the pitch. My wingbacks, Alphonso Davies and Rafinha, will push up moderately as both Ribery and Robben can, on their day, help out in defense. Upfront we have two hard-working strikers who can hold up the ball for the wingers and have a nose for goal themselves.
Why did I not pick Thiago instead of Javi? Javi’s arrival in 2012 was the difference between losing at home to Chelsea in a Champions League final to win 7-0 on aggregate to Barcelona the next year. Bayern has never had such an influential Spaniard.
INNN was the first to put Bayern cast-off Medhi Benatia on the field. Why was the seldom used Moroccan getting the gig over more established players like Martin Demichelis and Daniel van Buyten?
Well, I stuck to players I know, so no van Buyten or Demichelis because they were mostly before my time as a Bayern fan. I originally had Javi there instead, but I wasn’t prepared to make a Basque separatist argument on BFW. So Benatia it is.
I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw this lineup from Josh. It is absolutely beautiful in how balls-to-the-wall attacking it is. A (basically) 3-4-3 where your three defenders are Alphonso Davies, Medhi Benatia, and Rafinha? Tell me more. Now.
Using a 3-3-1-3 lineup is definitely overly attacking but given this circumstance...what other defenders are to be used that are non German?In this setup Thiago gets to play Maestro on the midfield and connect with James. Shaqiri and Alaba make up a physical midfield that has the ability to be defensive and offensive. Then obviously we have the top trio of attackers that do nothing but score goals. It’s bonkers, but it’s easily the best lineup given the circumstances.
Fergus went big on the attack with Thomas Muller up top instead of of Manuel Neuer in goal. Relying on Pepe Reina to do the dirty work in the box leaves arguably the best/most important German, Manuel Neuer, out of the squad. What’s the strategy here?
I went for Muller over Neuer, because he is the most deserving player out of everyone of being in this team due to the fact he’s played for Bayern all through 2010-2020 and has been consistently among the club’s best. Furthermore, the CAM is arguably the most important position in the formation,this team had to contain the (should be) legendary Mullendowski partnership and Muller, Pepe Reina is as good as Neuer and the next possible CAM (Olic?).
Schnitzel went with our beloved Dante at centerback next to Daniel van Buyten but did something unexpected with Medhi Benatia at right back. Why was that the chosen squad instead of shifting Benatia inside, dropping Dante, and putting Rafinha at right back?
So I chose to go with Benatia at RB because he’s been a solid right footed centerback for Bayern, and has also played a few games at the RB position when the need arose. Although he isn’t the paciest, his grit and work rate would ensure that this formation is stable defensively. The main reason I chose Benatia of all the RB’s Bayern have had over the years is that since I chose Neuer at GK, that was a trade-off for all German RBs (Lahm, Kimmich, etc) who would’ve been my first choice options.
I also felt Dante’s need at CB more than Rafinha’s need at RB, because Dante was very solid for us, especially in the treble season, and I felt that a back four of the chosen defenders would be rock solid defensively, if lacking in the attack on the right side.
If you start at the back of Evan’s lineup, you’re going to think, “Okay. I get where you’re coming from with this.” Then, as you get to the attacking midfield, you see Xherdan Shaqiri’s name plopped right in the central attacking midfield spot. No James Rodriguez? No Coutinho? No Douglas Costa?
Facing the nightmare scenario of picking between Neuer and Müller, I was forced to opt for the man in goal. It seemed impossible to think of the team without him at the net. Therefore, I got to keep the classic wingers of Robbery and Thiago in midfield as my Spaniard. Rafinha seemed an easy choice in the battle of the Brazilians (Coutinho) for a solid back line mix of old and newer. Scrambling a bit for my attacking midfield, another contributor of the treble seemed to fit the bill: Power Cube > whiny James.
RLD came at me with arguably the best midfield trio that one could put together if they were going with three in the middle of the park. Why Thiago Alcantara, Arturo Vidal, and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk?
This is a midfield set up more to intimidate than perhaps play beautiful flowing football. Vidal is unleashed to wreak havoc from box to box, create turn-overs in the offensive zone and put the fear of god into opposing mids. Tymoshchuk plays a very defensive role which he is quite comfortable with, having the stamp of approval from Don Jupp. Thiago acts as the conductor of the whole squad, still playing deep, but freed up to join the attack when he feels the time is right. While Thiago has grown into a defensive stalwart, his sublime passing skills make him a threat to slice open defenses at any time.
One of the most interesting choices here was going with Benjamin Pavard at right back over Frank Ribery in the attacking midfield. This meant that someone needed to fill that spot, and RuneKingThor went with everyone’s favorite Canadian Alphonso Davies!
Since Neuer undoubtedly takes up the German spot and Dante — who has had an excellent spell with Bayern — the Brazilian one, Pavard seemed to me a right-back who has truly held his own in an elite team like Bayern. The inclusion of Pavard means that Ribery and also Coman would be out of contention. Given the creative ability in this midfield, the thought of replacing him with Davies —who can contribute with his pace and power— would be a good (and bold) idea and maintain the team’s balance.
Logan went with a more defensive midfield pairing of Javi Martinez and Arturo Vidal rather than maybe slipping someone like Thiago Alcantara or even Xabi Alonso in the midfield with Vidal. What was the ultimate decision to go with Javi?
I struggled picking between Thiago, Javi, and Xabi in the midfield. I ended up going with Martinez for his defensive abilities, since I had a box-to-box midfielder in Vidal. I also thought about using him as one of my center-backs. With the formation he could stay back and be a third center-back if Rafinha and Alaba were pushing up to help in the attack.
What do you think of the various lineups? What squad is your favorite? Would you make different choices? Let us know in the comments.