Bayern Munich returned to winning ways after the winter-break with a 3-1 victory away to Bayer Leverkusen on Friday night. The league-leaders are over ten points clear at the top, seemingly on course for another league title. Likewise, in England, Manchester City also appear unstoppable as they have a significant lead over ten points as well, despite their unbeaten run finally ending at Anfield.
Given the dominance of both sides, this article will compare the two sets of players from both squads, taking into consideration that both clubs have a wealth of resources and players to call upon beyond the starting eleven.
Sven Ulreich has been in excellent form for Bayern Munich in the absence of Manuel Neuer, who suffered a hairline fracture in his foot in September. The biggest compliment which can be made to Ulreich is that Bayern have hardly missed the goalkeeper widely considered to be the best in the world.
Alongside Ulreich, Bayern have also been able to call upon 36 year-old Tom Starke. With only 12 goals conceded in the league without Neuer, it is safe to say Bayern have steady hands in goal.
Manchester City conceded just one more league goal prior to the game against Liverpool, however this is having played four more games than Bayern, a testament to how solid they have been. In Claudio Bravo and Ederson, City have international keepers, with the latter being particularly good with his distribution. The setback against Liverpool is the first time significant question marks were raised in this regard this season.
Verdict: Bayern pip City to this, solely because they have kept eight clean-sheets so far this season without the world-class Manuel Neuer.
With two World Cups, 9 Bundesliga titles and 4 German Cup trophies between them, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels are a formidable centre-half pairing. Thomas Muller once described them as ‘‘World champions and proven players who want to be leaders.’’ Boateng has only played ten league games this season, but when they are both fit they are world-beaters.
22 year-old right-back Joshua Kimmich has received plenty of plaudits, fitting into Phillip Lahm’s role seamlessly. Signed from Hoffenheim on a five-year deal last January, 21 year-old Niklas Sule also has massive potential. The likes of Rafinha, David Alaba and Juan Bernat make up a superb Bayern defence.
Man City leader Vincent Kompany suffered injury again when he limped off after just 11 minutes against Newcastle in December. £47.5 million signing, John Stones, has also missed games through injury this campaign. Yet injuries have not curtailed City, as they have raced clear at the top with players such as Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala taking on the responsibility. Fabian Delph also came into the side in the absence of injured new signing Benjamin Mendy. Kyle Walker has been ever-present at right-back, a fantastic signing from Tottenham. City’s defence could not contain a rampant Liverpool attack yesterday however.
Verdict: It’s hard to look past Bayern’s defence with players of the calibre of Hummels, Boateng and Alaba in the squad, alongside promising young talent such as Kimmich and Sule.
Javi Martinez opened the scoring against Leverkusen on Friday night, but it is his defensive qualities when protecting the back-four which make him so invaluable to Jupp Heynckes. The Spanish international never shirks a tackle, often putting his body on the line for his team. Likewise, Arturo Vidal is also prepared to get stuck in and put himself in where it hurts as a midfield warrior. Vidal has also scored 5 league goals this season, reportedly attracting attention from Chelsea for his exploits.
Transfer rumours have also linked Thiago Alcantara to Barcelona, after originally being signed from Pep Guardiola’s La Liga side in 2013. Munich have dismissed the speculation, as they look to keep hold of an integral cog within their squad. Corentin Tolisso was signed for 41.5 million euros from Lyon in June, making him the most expensive Bundesliga player ever. Tolisso has not been phased by this sum, featuring 16 times as Bayern dominate the league. German international Sebastian Rudy has also impressed when called upon.
Attack-minded midfielders such as James Rodriguez and Kingsley Coman are eye-catching to watch with the former scoring a sumptuous free-kick from just outside the box against Leverkusen. Bayern stalwarts Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery also remain within the squad, despite the fact that injury has limited the latter to just 10 games this season. The Frenchman scored his first goal of the season on Friday night, and has vowed to finish his career at Munich.
There are only so many superlatives which can be used to describe Man City’s outstanding midfield with Kevin De Bruyne in particular playing to a phenomenal standard, which sets him out as one of the best, if not the best, midfielder in the world right now. With David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Sadio Mane and Ilkay Gundogan all performing at a world-class level, Guardiola’s side look excellent.
With 14 goals so far this season, Sterling is flourishing under Guardiola, and like De Bruyne, has been truly exceptional, making a habit of scoring late winners this season.
Verdict: Protected by Fernandinho, City’s creative midfielders have been allowed to cause havoc to Premier League defences this season, and are a huge factor as to why this side have been regarded as the best Premier League team ever.
With 30 goals in his last two campaigns, and 15 in 17 Bundesliga games already this season, it is hard to dismiss Robert Lewandowski’s prolific talent in front of goal. With Thomas Muller in the squad as well, Munich are guaranteed goals from two well-respected international players.
Sergio Aguero’s record speaks for itself at Man City. The Argentinian is the club’s record goal scorer and his heroics are not ceasing any time soon with 13 goals in 17 league games so far this campaign. Gabriel Jesus suffered an unfortunate injury against Crystal Palace, leaving the Brazilian in tears as he left the field, but the 20 year-old wonder kid is set to return to action next month.
Verdict: As good as Aguero is, the combination of Muller and Lewandowski pips City to this by the finest of margins. This is because of Lewandowski being on course to reach 30 goals for a third successive season, coupled with Muller’s outstanding career record of winning 6 Bundesliga trophies, 4 German cups, 1 Champions League and 1 World Cup.
Heynckes and Guardiola are serial winners, born to win trophies, and they both currently have fantastic talent at their disposal. Both sides are well covered in all areas of the pitch, and it would be a huge surprise if they do not finish their respective campaigns as league champions. Even though Bayern’s squad pips City’s overall, it is clear that Guardiola is creating Premier League history as he attempts to amass a record point’s total. City’s midfield is scintillating to watch, but Bayern have World Cup winners such as Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng in their ranks, alongside some incredible young talent such as Kimmich, Coman, Sule and Tolisso.
The two teams are looking superb, and the question as to which team is better is certainly a contentious one likely to divide fans and pundits alike. Perhaps a Champions League encounter would settle the argument.