German Bundesliga Team of the Season Halfway Through 2016-17

Interesting and entertaining does not even begin to describe how incredible the first half of the German Bundesliga season has been. Instead of Dortmund challenging Bayern Munich for the title, it’s been a club of unknown youngsters in the form of RasenBallsport Leipzig who have been Carlo Ancelotti’s greatest title challengers this season. But Dortmund have had several impressive results of their own including a 5-1 trashing of Wolfsburg, a 6-0 victory over Darmstadt and a dominant 4-1 display against Monchengladbach. As a result this is still a three-horse race and for the first time in years isn’t just a gimme that Bayern Munich are going to take it all. Below the Bundesliga’s top three clubs so far, 1899 Hoffenheim have also proven their worth going unbeaten in the first half of the season as FC Cologne and Hertha Berlin have also had quite a bit to say. But what would the teams be without the players? There have been several standout stars so far in the 2016-17 Bundesliga campaign and the 11 below have been the best of the bunch. This is the German Bundesliga’s Team of the Season So Far! Enjoy!

*Translate this article into German or any other language of your choosing through the Google translate widget to the right of your screen. 

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer 

manuel-neuer-2016-17
Team of the Week Appearances: 2
17 appearances, 8 clean sheets, 0.59 goals conceded per game, 3.10 saves per goal

Don’t be fooled into thinking I’ve picked Manuel Neuer just because of his fantastic reputation for being the best goalkeeper in the world; the German captain has been incredible yet again to start this Bundesliga season. Neuer has been essential to Bayern Munich, making 3.10 saves per goal conceded, the best in Europe’s top 5 leagues. He’s also conceded just 0.59 goals per game on his way to keeping 8 clean sheets in 17 appearances. With a 94% claim success he’s also dominated his penalty area and when he’s been called upon he’s always been up to the task, making 31 saves so far this campaign. Manuel Neuer isn’t just the best goalkeeper in the world, he’s also been the best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga so far in 2016-17. Rating: 8.5/10.

Right Back: Phillipp Lahm 

Philipp Lahm 4
Team of the Week Appearances: 2
12 appearances, 1 goal, 1 assist, 25 interceptions, 90% pass accuracy, 78.5 passes per game

Phillipp Lahm despite being the footballing legend that he is, hasn’t been brilliant these past few seasons and has unfortunately missed a lot of matches due to injury. However, this season under Carlo Ancelotti the German has looked back to his best again and has nailed down that right back spot as his own again. With 78.5 passes per game, he’s been one of Bayern’s best keepers of the ball, and with 25 interceptions and 20 clearances as well he’s stuck to his defensive tasks excellently well. 1 goal and 1 assist in 12 matches this season also doesn’t do justice to how essential he has been as a part of Bayern Munich’s forceful attack this season. Philipp Lahm is back to his best again and with some of his performances this season has demonstrated that there really are few footballers on this earth that can do what he does. Rating: 8.5/10.

Centre Back: Willi Orban 

willi-orban
Team of the Week Appearances: 4
17 appearances, 2 goals, 1 assist, 80 duels in the air won, 37 tackles, 44 interceptions, 82 clearances

Willi Orban has come out of nowhere this season, taking the league by storm and establishing himself as one of the best defenders in Germany. The club vice captain may be only 24 but has the leadership and defensive quality to be one of the best defenders in the world some day. The German leads the way in nearly every defensive department in the game as no defender has made more defensive actions than him this season. Some of the highlights of his defensive brilliance include 80 duels won in the air so far, more than any other player, 82 clearances and 44 interceptions. In addition to his incredible defensive work he’s even managed to pop up with 2 goals and an assist, proving his worth at the other end of the pitch as well. After a superb first half of the German Bundesliga season, Willi Orban has established himself as one of the league’s best defenders and could be on his way to leading RasenBallsport Leipzig’s title charge as we approach the second half of the season. Rating: 9.5/10.

Centre Back: Mats Hummels

Mats Hummels vs. Werder Bremen
Team of the Week Appearances: 4
15 appearances, 1 goal, 1 assist, 35 tackles, 35 interceptions, 89% pass accuracy, 77.8 passes per game, 63 aerial duels won

It’s probably been his worst season in years yet Mats Hummels has still arguably been the best defender in the league. Since leaving Dortmund for Bayern Munich, Mats Hummels has managed to establish himself as Bayern’s most consistent defender and has been a vital leader at the heart of their defence. The 6’3 tough tackling defender has been incredible in possession of the ball, completing 89% of his passes despite all those long balls he likes to attempt and making 77.8 passes per game. Hummels has also managed 2.3 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per game so far this season, hardly ever allowing any attacker to break free on goal. He’s also done his bit in attack as he always does, with 1 goal and 1 assist in 15 matches this season. Even if he were to get injured, Mats Hummels has his been so brilliant to start this season that he’ll probably be a lock for the Team of the Season come May as he always is. The former Dortmund star is the best defender in the league and has proven that on several occasions so far in 2016-17. Rating: 9/10.

Left Back: Jonas Hector

1. FC Koeln v SV Darmstadt 98 - Bundesliga
Team of the Week Appearances: 4
17 appearances, 44 tackles pg, 40 interceptions, 85% pass accuracy, 36 fouls drawn

Quickly becoming one of the world’s best left-backs, Jonas Hector has had a fabulous start to the 2016-17 Bundesliga season. Whether he’s been rocking it as a left-back or controlling play from midfield, Hector has always been integral to Cologne this season as The Billy Goats have lost just 3 of their 17 games so far this season. Hector has been a brilliant leader for Cologne, playing every minute of every game as he has led them to impressive defeats over the likes of Schalke and Monchengladbach and two impressive 1-1 draws with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. Averaging 2.6 tackles per game and 2.4 interceptions per game he’s been one of the best defenders in the league and he’s managed to make an impact going forward as well, assisting 1 goal, creating 1.4 chances per game and drawing 2.1 fouls per game! Jonas Hector is one of the best left-backs in the the world, one of the best players outside of one Europe’s elite clubs and has had a magnificent start to the 2016-17 season, further cementing his fantastic reputation. Rating: 9/10.

Defensive Midfield: Thiago Alcantara 

thiago-alcantara-bm
Team of the Week Appearances: 4
15 appearances, 3 goals, 3 assists, 90% pass accuracy, 95.3 passes per game, 4.4 interceptions per game, 2.5 tackles per game, 2.1 dribbles per game

Nobody has dominated more Bundesliga games than Thiago Alcantara has this season and certainly not to the extent that he has as well. He’s been so good at times that Arturo Vidal has struggled to get into the side! Thiago has been the force that has kept Carlo Ancelotti’s ticking this season, controlling the midfield in every single game he’s played in. With more passes and touches on the ball than anyone in the league, his on the ball statistics are through the roof. The midfielder has completed 95.3 passes per game and has managed a 90% pass accuracy with 1.7 of those passes per game being chances created. The Spaniard’s defensive work has been equally brilliant, constantly winning back possession for the Bavarian giants with 4.4 interceptions and 2.5 tackles per game. On top of all of this, he’s even managed to add 3 goals and 3 assists to his name, just proving how good he is at all areas of the game. After an incredible first half of the season with Bayern Munich, Thiago Alcantara has now established himself as one of the best midfielders on the planet. Rating: 10/10.

Defensive Midfield: Naby Keita 

naby-keita
Team of the Week Appearances: 3
15 appearances, 4 goals, 3 assists, 35 tackles, 44 interceptions, 44 dribbles

Likened to N’Golo Kante, Naby Keita will soon be on every major club’s radar if he continues to play like this. The Guinean footballer has been integral to RasenBallsport Leipzig’s incredible first half of the season success as they sit in second place in the table, 9 points above Borussia Dortmund. A defensive midfielder who is always looking to break up play, Keita has been essential to Ralph Husenhuttl’s side. Yet despite playing defensive midfield he’s also managed to be a key member of The Bulls’ attack, scoring 4 goals and 3 assists in 15 matches while also gliding past his opponents on a consistent basis with nearly 3 dribbles per game! Naby Keita has gone from pretty much an unknown footballer to a household name in the Bundesliga and may soon earn a gigantic move to a Premier League or Bundesliga giant. Rating: 9/10.

Right Attacking Midfield: Ousmane Dembele 

ousmane-dembele-bvb
Team of the Week Appearances: 5
16 appearances, 4 goals, 7 assists, 61 dribbles, 26 chances created, 35 fouls drawn

Ousmane Dembele is the best teenager in the world of football and has proved that in every single game he’s played for Borussia Dortmund this season. Few would have expected the 19-year old to come straight into the side after arriving from French side Stade Rennais in the summer, especially with the additions of Gotze and Schurrle overshadowing his own, but the Frenchman has become an instant Dortmund star and has arguably been their best player this season. When everyone else seems to be failing to step up to the plate, Dembele has managed to get his side out of danger on several occasions this season and his pace, energy, running power and incredible dribbling skills have made him probably the hardest player to defend against in the league. Dembele currently sits in second place in the assist department, with an impeccable tally of 7 assists in 16 matches this season, while he’s also chipped in with four goals of his own. His incredible dominance in games has also seen him manage 3.8 dribbles per game, the highest of anyone in the league by almost 1 dribble per game more. He’s also found himself the target of several opposition offences this season, drawing 2.2 fouls per game and those are just the one’s that were called by the referee. In short, Ousmane Dembele has had a meteoric rise to the top of this game in recent years and as a 19-year-old somehow manages to not only be one of the Bundesliga’s best players but one of the best players in the world as well. He has been absolutely essential to Borussia Dortmund this season and if they are going to have any chance at catching up to Bayern Munich and decreasing that gap then he is going to need to continue to be the man that leads the way. Rating: 9.5/10.

Left Attacking Midfield: Emil Forsberg 

emil-forsberg
Team of the Week Appearances: 5
15 appearances, 5 goals, 8 assists, 29 interceptions, 35 chances created, 26 take-on’s

One of the rising stars in the world game, Emil Forsberg has been an integral part of RasenBallSport Leipzig’s surprise success this season. The Swedish international leads the league in assists with 8 and has also netted goals on 5 occasions himself this season, proving just how effective he’s been for Ralph Hussenhuttl’s men.  The left-winger has also done his defensive work with nearly 2 interceptions per game, and with 26 take-on’s and 35 chances created has been one of the most entertaining players in the league to watch. With this man in their side, Sweden’s task of replacing the now retired Zlatan Ibrahimovic has become a whole lot easier. Rating: 9/10.

Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 

pierre-emerick-aubameyang-flip
Team of the Week Appearances: 5
15 appearances, 16 goals, 1 assist, 3.7 shots per game

If you take Messi, Ronaldo and Suarez out of the equation, there are very few other footballers in the world who score as many goals as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang does. The goal scoring hero wasn’t even a striker until a couple of seasons ago and under Thomas Tuchel has just been a transformed man, doing what he does best in scoring goals for fun on a regular basis. With 16 goals in just 15 appearances this season, he’s got two goals more than last year’s Golden Boot winner Robert Lewandowski despite 0.7 shots per game less than the Pole. He also sits third in Europe’s top five leagues for goals, above the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez and Neymar and has played less games than the two above him in Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette. With his incredible pace and natural finishing prowess, Aubameyang has been BVB’s danger man for years and has been arguably the best player in Germany so far this season. Rating: 10/10.

Striker: Robert Lewandowski 

Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen - German Bundesliga
Team of the Week Appearances: 6
17 appearances, 14 goals, 2 assists, 4.4 shots per game, 1.9 duels in the air won per game

Whenever a team of the season, team of the month or best player list is being conducted about the German Bundesliga, you can guarantee that Robert Lewandowski will be at the top of the list. The Polish striker has been the Bundesliga’s best player for the past couple of seasons and although Aubameyang has managed more goals and Alcantara has probably had a greater influence on Bayern, Lewandowski has been absolutely integral to Carlo Ancelotti’s team this year and they would not be the same team without him. With 14 goals and 2 assists in 17 matches this season, Lewandowski only trails Aubameyang and with the way he’s been functioning in the past few weeks could soon be on his way to overtaking the Gabonian striker. His 4.4 shots per game emphasizes just how lively he’s been in front of goal while his tally of just under 2 duels won in the air per game emphasizes a different aspect of his game that often goes unnoticed. Robert Lewandowski is just a complete striker and as long as he’s playing will probably always be one of the best in the world.

Formation: 4-4-2

german-bundesliga-team-of-the-season-halfway-through-2016-17

Substitutes: Oliver Baumann, Niklas Sule, Javi Martinez, Joshua Kimmich, Xabi Alonso, Vedad Ibisevic, Anthony Modeste

Player of the Season So Far: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 

aubameyang-four-goal-game

Whenever you score more goals than matches you’ve played in, you have to be doing something right. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been on fire in front of goal and has bailed BVB out of danger on several occasions this season. 16 goals in 15 appearances is absolutely incredible and given that he’s only needed 3.7 shots per game to do it illustrates how clinical he is at finding the back of the net. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the Player of the Season So Far in the German Bundesliga!

Manager of the Season So Far: Julian Nagelsmann 

julian-nagelsmann

Although RasenBallSport Leipzig’s Ralph Hussenhuttl has been incredible in taking a team of C-list players to the top of the Bundesliga table for the majority of the first half of the season, it is Julian Nagelsmann who has been the most impressive manager so far this season. After Real Madrid’s loss to Sevilla last week, 1899 Hoffenheim became the only team in Europe’s top 5 leagues to remain undefeated so far this season and 30 points from 17 games does not do justice to how brilliant they have been this season. The Hoffenheim manager has introduced his own unique twist to the 3-5-2 formation and has emphasized a possession based attacking style of football, taking a team of youngsters to 3rd place in the Bundesliga table. He’s also ensured that his team defend in large numbers, always making it very hard for opposition teams to break them down. Kerem Demirbay, Benjamin Hubner and Sandro Wagner are not household names but Nagelsmann, just 29 years old, has turned them into three of the Bundesliga’s best players this season. He’s developed the likes of Kevin Volland, Roberto Firmino and Niklas Sule in the past and with the way Die Kraichgauer are playing this season, more future stars could be soon added to that list. As Hoffenheim are the last remaining undefeated team in Europe’s top 5 leagues, Julian Nagelsmann has done magnificently well this season and just could not be overlooked as the best manager in the league so far this season. Rating: 9/10.

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