We may only have had three matchdays since the Bundesliga returned from its winter break, but most of the German top flight will enjoy another rest this weekend. UEFA countries aren’t involved in the upcoming international window, providing us with a nice opportunity to reflect on our Bundesliga team of 2021-22 so far, along with the division’s most impressive coach to this point.
Goalkeeper – Mark Flekken
Manuel Neuer may be running the tightest ship in terms of goals against for league leaders Bayern Munich, but Freiburg have only conceded four times more than the Bavarian giants. Dutch stopper Flekken has been a giant in between the sticks for the Breisgau Brazilians, where he’s finally risen the fore in his fourth season at the Europa-Park Stadion. Having finished in the bottom half of the table last term, Christian Streich’s side are currently riding high in fifth place and hoping to secure European football in the coming months, with Flekken’s continued fine form likely to be instrumental to their chances of success.
Right-back – Jeremie Frimpong
Young Dutch defender Frimpong only joined Bayer Leverkusen from Scottish side Celtic in January 2021, but the 21-year-old has quickly established himself as Die Werkself’s first-choice right-back. His performances in the Bundesliga have seen him linked with Real Madrid, with Frimpong scoring one goal and contributing five assists in 19 games for Leverkusen so far this term. He is certainly one to watch over the remainder of the season and beyond, as Die Werkself bid to finish in the Champions League places come the end of the campaign.
Centre-back – Niklas Sule
Now in his fifth season with Bayern, Sule has matured into a real leader at the heart of Die Roten’s defence. He’s never failed to win the Bundesliga title during his time at the Allianz Arena, with Munich currently enjoying a six-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund in the race for the Meisterschale. Bayern are conceding at an average of less than a goal a game under Julian Nagelsmann, whose innovative tactics have taken some getting used to defensively, but have made Die Roten even stronger than before. Sule is a key component to the fluid, asymmetrical formation Nagelsmann has adopted.
Centre-back – Nico Schlotterbeck
Another man who’s crucial to his team’s excellent defence is talented youngster Schlotterbeck. Having only turned 22 at the start of last month, not long after winning his first call-up to the senior Germany squad, Schlotterbeck’s performances during Freiburg’s impressive season so far have been eye-catching to say the least. His loan spell at Union Berlin last term has done him the power of good, allowing him to work on his all-round game. Schlotterbeck is one of the Bundesliga’s leaders when it comes to successful duels and could attract the attention of some of Europe’s big boys in the summer.
Left-back – Alphonso Davies
Incredibly, Canadian star Davies is even younger than Schlotterbeck, only turning 21 in November. The pacy Bayern full-back has the ability to play further forward and cause plenty of problems in the final third, although health problems are currently restricting his availability for both club and country. Davies contracted Covid-19 in December and has since been diagnosed with mild signs of myocarditis, which is inflammation on the heart. The prognosis appears good and hopefully he will make as speedy a recovery as possible in order to be involved in Bayern’s push for a 10th straight Bundesliga title.
Midfield – Florian Wirtz
Despite his tender age, 18-year-old Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Wirtz has been one of the Bundesliga’s standout performers in 2021-22. Such consistency is rare for one so young, but the talented prospect has been contributing goals and assists all season. He’s notched five times himself and laid on nine goals for his teammates, with the teenage sensation already being subject to speculation linking him to a European super club. He already has four Germany caps to his name and will only add to his burgeoning reputation with a strong end to the campaign for Die Werkself.
Midfield – Jude Bellingham
Another player whose maturity on the pitch belies his tender years, Borussia Dortmund prodigy Bellingham is also only aged 18. Skilful, dynamic and with an eye for goal, his stunning solo effort against Arminia Bielefeld in October was a thing of beauty. Bellingham has three goals and six assists so far this term, while also offering much more to his team right across the pitch. A league leader in duels won, the England international will be looking to ramp up his claim for a place in the Three Lions’ starting XI at the 2022 World Cup over the coming weeks and months.
Midfield – Christopher Nkunku
RB Leipzig are struggling down in sixth place following the departure of their manager Nagelsmann in the summer, but things would be a lot worse were it not for Nkunku. The Frenchman has notched nine goals and seven assists in the league so far this season, with most of those contributions proving highly valuable in adding points to Die Roten Bullen’s relatively modest tally. After also netting seven goals in the Champions League, he’s already managed 10 more goals than the whole of last term, and his importance to Leipzig down the stretch is set to be monumental.
Forward – Robert Lewandowski
He may have turned 33 earlier in the campaign, but there are no signs Lewandowski is slowing down with age just yet. The Polish hitman has netted 23 goals in 20 Bundesliga appearances so far this term, profiting from the spectacular form of Thomas Muller, who’s already on 16 assists for Bayern. Lewandowski is averaging a goal every 75 minutes and with a shot accuracy of 64% and conversion rate of 29%, many more look set to come before the end of the campaign. If he can avoid injury over the next few months, Munich will be hot favourites in their bid for 10 in row.
Forward – Erling Haaland
It’s easy to wonder where Dortmund would be had Haaland not missed six of Die Schwarzgelben’s matches so far. The Norway striker has netted 16 goals in just 14 games in 2021-22, while also laying on five assists to boot. Die Borussen are only six points behind Bayern Munich, but that gap may have been a lot closer if Haaland hadn’t missed around two months through injury. If he can stay fit and continue to fire over the closing months of the campaign, it will keep Dortmund in with a chance of ending Bayern’s lengthy reign at the top of the pile in Germany.
Forward – Patrik Schick
Following on from his impressive Euro 2020 campaign last summer, where he scored five goals and only lost out on the Golden Boot to Cristiano Ronaldo by one assist, Schick has really kicked on this season for Bayer Leverkusen. The Czech Republic international only netted nine goals in 29 appearances during his debut campaign for Die Werkself last term, but has already doubled that tally after just 17 games of his second season at the BayArena. Leverkusen are the third-highest scorers in the Bundesliga as a result, catapulting them into third place behind giants Bayern and Dortmund.
Coach – Julian Nagelsmann
It’s a tough ask to pitch up at Bayern Munich and improve a team who’ve won the league nine times on the bounce. Since arriving at the Allianz Arena from RB Leipzig in the summer though, that’s exactly what Nagelsmann has done. There were a few question marks during the early weeks of the season, but the 34-year-old has laid waste to any doubters through his team’s performances. Unorthodox tactics, fresh ideas and newfound flexibility have all helped Bayern establish a commanding lead at the top of the Bundesliga table, while Die Roten also cruised through their Champions League group with six wins from six. Silverware surely awaits in the months to come, the only question is how much of it.