Bundesliga European Football

Bundesliga Team of the Season Part 2: The Midfield

And here come the Bayern players…

After a slight delay due to technical issues, we are back with the Bundesliga Team of the Season. In this part, we name our midfield three. And yes, there are Bayern players here now. They were coming eventually.

Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Joshua Kimmich might be one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and he accomplishes this without being that particularly defensive. That seems counter-intuitive, but it is also fairly true.

Kimmich occupies one of the two positions in Bayern’s midfield double pivot, playing alongside the also talented and narrowly missed out Leon Goretzka. Kimmich is the more structural player, with Goretzka being the more energetic one. Kimmich, much in the way Thiago was previously, is the one that sets the tempo of the team and provides the platform for Bayern to kick-start attacks. This is shown in the stats that Kimmich is among the league leaders in: progressive passing. He is not the most creative player in the league, with many of his assists coming on the corners he takes, but he is the one that keeps things moving. While not specifically always leading to goals, his passing is quite ingenious and, most importantly, quite incisive. Bayern want to attack quickly and want to take advantage of overloads or other numerical advantages, and it is through the incisive passing from Kimmich that they are able to advance quickly and rapidly up the pitch.

Kimmich is no slouch defensively, though. Do not get me wrong. He obviously has played as a right back and center back previously, so he knows how to put a tackle in and how to deal with opposing players when Bayern are defending. Despite his smaller frame, he can win a good amount of tackles and is often very well positioned. This, as well as his passing ability, tie into Kimmich’s best trait as a player: his intelligence. Often compared to former Bayern and Germany great Philipp Lahm, Kimmich is hailed as a player with a phenomenal footballing IQ, able to understand the game so thoroughly and understand his team’s system so well that he can play in basically any position all over the pitch. Right back, center back, defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder. Maybe even striker, some day? Who knows? But every manager that has worked with Kimmich has recognized this trait, and the best has seemingly been brought out by former Bayern manager Hansi Flick, who made Kimmich an indispensable part of the Bavarian midfield.

It is very hard to find a lot of midfielders in the world better than Joshua Kimmich right now. He was a lock for this team.

Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich)

Ah, Bayern’s resident funny man, the dictionary definition of the Raumdeuter role, and the (likely) two-time reigning Bundesliga assist king, Thomas Müller is likely a Bayern legend at this point, a player that maybe we did not appreciate as much as we should have prior to the last few years.

After some stagnation, the Bavarian born forward found his perfect role playing as basically a number ten under Hansi Flick, able to embrace the tenets of the Raumdeuter role that he made famous. Flick gave him the freedom of the attacking third, simply wanting Müller to go with the flow of the game and find the spaces for him to be the most dangerous he could be. Müller has rewarded that faith and freedom with an incredible assist tally over the last few seasons. Having broken the single-season Bundesliga assist record last season, he has the very strong possibility of breaking his own record this season if he can amass five assists in Bayern’s final two games of the season. Seems like a tall task, but with how potent Bayern’s attack can be, I would not be surprised if he pulled it off.

Müller is a phenomenal attacking player. He does not have the incredible technical passing talent of, say, Kevin De Bruyne, but he fills that void with an incredible intelligence, attacking positional sense, and the ability to anticipate his teammates’ actions and put the ball where it needs to be. This is what allows him to do an action that leads to a goal just shy of every game, which is absurd but not really surprising given all of the absurd attacking stats that are connected to this Bayern team. You could make a very convincing argument that he is the most important Bayern player not named Robert Lewandowski. While Bayern may still press on if they suddenly lost Müller, I doubt their attack would be as effective without the German constantly roaming the final third.

They would also be less fun, and that infectious personality is part of the joy of Thomas Müller. It would be weird for him to not be there. He is becoming as synonymous with Bayern as many other footballing legends.

Filip Kostić (Eintracht Frankfurt)

This one might look a bit crazy, but for those who have followed the league this season and saw how strong Eintracht Frankfurt have been, it is only logical that he be included.

Filip Kostić can be quite a difficult player to define. Initially joining Eintracht as a left wing back or left back, he has basically evolved into a winger. As Eintracht play in a back three, he is usually tasked with controlling that left side of the pitch, but he is often pushed so high up the pitch that he might as well be considered an attacker full time. He is very daring with the ball, a player that wants to take on defenders, push into the attack, and use his strong left foot to play passes or have an occasional shot. He is at or near the top in most crossing stats in the league, but his passing is not just boiled down to crossing. He is able to combine well with midfielders and forwards, usually still on his left foot, and he is able to basically be a forward and a defender meshed into one.

Despite this need to cover the whole left side, he still has the time to show his technical skill. And this time has led to him becoming the league’s second highest assisting player. While he is a fairly healthy margin behind Müller, he is still a very strong creative player in his own right, especially so for a predominantly left footed player on the left side. While he does not score as often as some other attacking midfielders, and especially not as often as Müller, he still plays such a big role in Frankfurt’s attacks. He is one of their most important players, someone who likely makes their forwards and their defense better.

Yes, Leon Goretzka is also very good. Yes, it is harsh to not have Goretzka in this starting 11. But it would be very unfair for Kostić to not get the credit he deserves after such an outstanding season.

And there you have it. Apologies for the one day delay, but now you have your Bundesliga Team of the Season midfield. Join us tomorrow, where we reveal the two attackers you already for sure know are there and the one you do not know about.

Agree with my picks? Think I left someone out? Let us know in the comments below!

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