It’s that time of the year again. With the Bundesliga now on a winter break, we’re able to review the previous 12 months to come up with the Team of the Year. However, unlike others, we’re looking to make ours as practical as possible. This isn’t about getting the most popular players into a starting XI. Instead, we’re going to pick a system and a style and then peruse the numbers available to us in the Twenty3 Toolbox to mould the best team. We want it to be as functional as can be in real life and not just on FIFA.
We have specific requirements for our team. For example, ball-playing centre-backs are a necessity. We want box-to-box midfielders, confident ball-carriers in wide areas and a secondary goal threat to support the main forward.
Manuel Neuer returned to top form so takes the coveted No.1 jersey. Well, that was an easy start.
In front of him, he has two Bayern Munich colleagues. The versatile Joshua Kimmich takes the right-back role while Alphonso Davies is deployed on the opposite flank. The former’s versatility adds balance to this team while the latter’s explosive pace adds another dimension to the attack. Kimmich can tuck inside when required and this allows one of the midfielders to cover for Phonzie when he’s on a rampaging run. We’re all about that balance.
Sandwiched between the two Bayern players, we have Mats Hummels and Matthias Ginter. The BVB centre-back has looked impressive since returning to the Westfalenstadion, completing 90% of his passes, winning 65% of his aerial duels and 66% of his ground duels. He’s competent in a back four and a back three. Ginter has played a key role in Marco Rose’s Borussia Mönchengladbach side. He’s tidy in possession and regularly completes 90% of his passes.
A double pivot needs to have a bit of everything. Leon Goretzka and Florian Neuhaus certainly do. Goretkza was a big presence for Hansi Flick’s all-conquering Bayern side, ably supporting Thiago and Kimmich. He chipped in with seven goals and six assists in 2020 while ranking third for ball recoveries in the opposition’s half (111).
Neuhaus has been something of a revelation for Gladbach. He’s in the top 50 for interceptions, loose balls won and ball recoveries in the opposition’s half. He also ranks in the top 20 for shots, progressive runs and passes. The 23-year-old is quite expressive with his passing, too, as Inter found out this season in the Champions League.
Wide players and No.10
Behind the striker, we’ve opted for a three made up of Moussa Diaby, Thomas Müller and Jadon Sancho. The Bayer Leverkusen winger gets in the team due to his ability to create space. In 2020, no player in the German top-flight has attempted more dribbles than the former PSG youngster and the 21-year-old has been one of the star performers for Peter Bosz’s side this season.
On the right side, Sancho pips a number of players. His goal threat combined with his creative numbers make him an obvious choice for any XI. He’s a wildcard in the sense he’s just as likely to score as he is to assist (8 goals, 9 assists in 2020). He’s a low volume shooter, averaging just two shots per 90, but a high output player. In fact, his shots and shot assists are split equally (48 in both for 2020) and that is rare.
Müller gets the nod as the secondary goal threat in this team. No player registered more assists (15) than the Germany legend this year and, perhaps surprisingly, he ranks first for touches in the penalty area (172). He also chipped in with 12 goals to take his goal involvement to 0.93 per 90.
Leading the line, there could only be one man. Though Erling Haaland pushed him hard for the No.9 jersey, it’s Robert Lewandowski.
He tops the goals list, expected goals list and shots attempted list; his nickname, coined by pun master Müller says it all.
The best in the business.
Twenty3’s Bundesliga Team of 2020
Neuer; Kimmich, Ginter, Hummels, Davies; Goretzka, Neuhaus; Sancho, Müller, Diaby; Lewandowski.