Bayern Munich Post-War Eleven

GermanyFor the second successive season Bayern Munich look the team to beat as we hit the knock-out stages of the Champions League. Such is the strength of their first-choice team, the depth of their squad and the comprehensiveness of their recent form; few would bet against them retaining their European title and taking a step closer to replicating that trio of successive European Cup wins from the 1970s.

We tasked our German contributor Lukas Tank to look back over the club’s post-war history and create a best-ever Bayern Eleven for us. He’s come up with an interesting mix of players from the 70s team, the current day invincibles and a smattering from the decades in between.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

On the bench: Maier, Lizarazu, Augenthaler, Matthäus, Roth, Dürnberger, Scholl, Robben, D. Hoeneß, Élber
Trainer: Jupp Heynckes

The Players

Oliver KahnOliver Kahn (1994-2008, 429 apps, 86 caps for Germany)
Having learnt his trade before the change in the backpass rules in 1992, the Titan was very much an old-school shot stopper and his superb reflexes enabled him to make outrageous saves. But perhaps it was his presence on the pitch more than his skills that made him arguably the best goalkeeper in German football history. Known for his fiery temper, Kahn inspired his teammates and terrified opponents alike. He reached the peak of his career in the early noughties and the penalty shoot-out against Valencia in 2001 and the World Cup the following year both featured stand-out performances from him. We’ll conveniently ignore that World Cup Final blunder though!

Philip LahmPhilipp Lahm (2002 & 2005-14, 248 apps (7 goals), 104 caps for Germany)
“He simply cannot play badly.“ Hermann Gerland, the current assistant manager of Bayern Munich and Philipp Lahm’s former youth coach, coined the ultimate quote about the player’s unerring consistency. In contrast to the energetic style of Paul Breitner in the other full-back position, Lahm is very much a thoughtful and strategic player. He interprets his role neither offensively nor defensively; rather in an almost Aristotelean way he finds the perfect middle ground between the extremes. He is just as attacking as he needs to be while never neglecting his defensive responsibility. Lahm is one of the few full-backs around with the sort of playmaking ability that has allowed Guardiola to play him also as a pivote. If life was fair for defenders, Lahm would have been a genuine contender to win the 2014 Balon D’Or.

BreitnerPaul Breitner (1970-74 & 1978-83, 255 apps (83 goals), 48 caps for Germany)
There’s no question that he belongs in this team, but as a full-back or central midfielder? The fact that Breitner is a viable candidate for two positions in such a high-quality side tells you a lot about his talents as a player – he is versatility personified. In the early seventies Breitner played as a swashbuckling full-back – think Dani Alves at his best but with better decision-making. When Breitner returned to Bayern in 1978 he formed a succesful partnership with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and led the team to two successive league titles. This time he featured as the team’s midfield conductor, a role he had first flourished in at Real Madrid. So given the surplus of excellent central midfielders in Bayern Munich’s history, I play Breitner as a left full-back.

Schwarzenbeck“Katsche“ Schwarzenbeck (1966-81, 416 apps (21 goals), 44 caps for Germany)
Hans-Georg “Katsche“ Schwarzenbeck will forever be the ‘other’ central defender of the famous Bayern side of the seventies. This is both justified and something of a pity. While he lacked the epoch-defining elegance of Beckenbauer, Schwarzenbeck was still a highly accomplished defender. If Breitner was ‘versatile’ and Beckenbauer was ‘elegant,’ there is no better adjective to describe Schwarzenbeck than solid. He could stand his ground against almost any opponent, had very good spatial awareness, fine decision-making ability and was a ruthless tackler. And when it mattered most, like during the last seconds of the 1974 European Cup final with Bayern facing defeat, he forgot about his conservative, no-nonsense role, surged forward and scored the vital equaliser to earn Bayern a replay.

BeckenbauerFranz Beckenbauer (1964-77, 427 apps (60 goals), 103 caps for Germany)
The first player on the team-sheet and a candidate for the title of best European player of the 20th century. There have been taller, stronger and faster defenders than the Kaiser, but seldom has there been a player more intelligent, more composed and more technically adept than him. Beckenbauer is the defining example of the proactive defender: minimising the threat of opponents through flawless positioning, great timing and stunning anticipation. Among all of his qualities, his decision-making is probably the stand-out one. With the ball at his feet Beckenbauer was a playmaker in defence. Simple short passes, long passes (often with the outside of his boot) or forward runs; he could do it all.

SchweinsteigerBastian Schweinsteiger (2002-14+, 309 apps (37 goals), 100 caps for Germany)
Alongside Philipp Lahm he is the leading figure of the so-called ‘Generation Lahmsteiger’ that won the treble in 2013. It was Louis van Gaal who turned the decent, if unspectacular wide-midfielder ‘Schweini’ into the world-class central-midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. Since this change of position in 2009, Schweinsteiger has been one of the top midfield generals in the world. When he is fully fit, as he was in the 2010 World Cup, Schweinsteiger is probably the greatest midfield all-rounder of our times. He orchestrates the play from deep, breaks down opponents’ attacks through sharp positioning and physical strength and makes dangerous forward runs. Just take a look at the World Cup 2010 Quarter-Final game against Argentina as a demonstration of his talents.

RiberyFranck Ribèry (2007-14+, 168 apps (59 goals), 80 caps for France)
There was a time when Ribèry was typical of world-class midfielders in wide positions. He executed many fine dribbles, scored goals, set up his teammates and did all the things you expect from a player in that position. Defensive work? Nah, don’t be silly, he’s an artist! Those times are gone. For a while now Franck Ribèry has shown us what the wide midfielder of the future looks like: hard-working, tactically astute, always helping his teammates while at the same time sacrificing none of his offensive qualities. He is as dangerous as ever and as hard-working as never before. Ask yourself: Can the same be said about Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?

EffenbergStefan Effenberg (1990-92 & 1998-2002, 160 apps (35 goals), 35 caps for Germany)
It was a close call between him and Lothar Matthäus but ‘Effe’ just makes the cut. This is mainly because Matthäus, although the better player, had his best years at Inter rather than Bayern. Very much like Oliver Kahn, Effenberg’s personality and competitiveness were a big part of his game and he was the undoubted leader of the Bayern side that won the Champions League in 2001. An all-rounder in midfield, Effenberg’s game had few obvious flaws. Sometimes teams lost games because they were too nice – none of them included Stefan Effenberg.

MullerGerd Müller (1964-79, 453 apps (398 goals), 62 caps for Germany)
… is a magnificent goalscorer, unrivalled in his ability to fashion a goal out of pretty much anything. You already knew that? Well, then here is something you might not know: Gerd Müller was much more than that! Yes, he was a ruthless poacher but he also frequently tracked back to help his team defend, as well as being quite adept at playing fast passing combinations. Not really so much of a dribbler and lacking Rummenigge’s heading ability, but apart from that a complete striker who scored goals in abundance. Just about one every game. But that you already knew.

HoenessUli Hoeneß (1970-79, 239 apps (86 goals), 35 caps for Germany)
While Uli Hoeneß is certainly more recognised in modern times as a Bayern manager and later President, he was also a sublime player for the club in his day. Take a look at the 1974 European Cup Final replay and witness a player who is as fast and powerful as any of his contemporaries in the game at the time. His physical superiority over opponents resembles that of Cristiano Ronaldo over the typical footballer of today. Sadly Uli’s career was cut short by injury, but he left a fine legacy as one of Bayern’s most spectacular players during the most successful era in the club’s history.

RummeniggeKarl-Heinz Rummenigge (1974-84, 310 apps (162 goals), 95 caps for Germany)
The mighty presence of Gerd Müller sometimes makes you forget that his direct successor at Bayern was a striker of rare quality too. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge can be considered to be a rather more complete player who scored frequently, but also had significant playmaking capabilities and exceptional technique. Together with Paul Breitner, Rummenigge, a two-time Balon D’Or winner, was the most important player of the Bayern teams of the early 80s.

The Tactics
I won’t go into minute detail given that this is a fantasy team, but I could imagine this side playing some very nice football because I picture them fitting together seamlessly. This team would play cultured possession-based football and look to control the game and dictate the tempo. Perhaps not ‘tiki-taki’ based but more of a conservative style of football, like that of Heynckes’s 2013 Bayern team. The defence is very capable of passing the ball out from the back effectively with Beckenbauer, Breitner and Lahm all having played in midfield at times, and as a result they form a defensive line this is extremely hard to press. Effenberg and Schweinsteiger are both versatile midfielders who alternate their positions freely and are hard to figure out for an opponent.

Given the lack of a real No. 10 then a lot of chances will be created on the wings. The fullbacks make overlapping runs in order to get behind the defence and create havoc by either crossing or cutting inside. Both Lahm and Breitner are dynamic enough to do so. Ribèry and Hoeneß are of course always capable of beating a defender or two. If the team should need more presence behind the striker, Rummenigge can play deeper and more as a playmaker. Without the ball the team forms a 4-4-2 block, pressing the opponent when he passes the half-way line. Higher pressing should be avoided because the defense shouldn’t play too high a line. Olli Kahn is too conservative a goalkeeper to play behind one, although he did compensate for this shortcoming with his extraordinary capability in one-on-one situations.

A note on the inclusion of currently active players
Choosing currently active players for a team forged from the history of a club might seem a bit questionable. Do they really rank as high as those legends of the past? In the case of Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Ribèry this question can be answered with a yes. All three have spent many years at Bayern Munich and performed consistently well. Their careers at Bayern, even if they were to end today, are up there with some of the greats players in the club’s history. After all, these individuals have shaped the second most successful team that Bayern fans have known.

Some conclusions
Bayern has fielded many excellent midfielders over the years, although compared to their goalkeepers, defenders and strikers there has been perhaps a lack of true historic quality. Beckenbauer and Müller would make it into the Post-War Eleven of any team on the planet, whereas the same might not be said for the likes of Schweinsteiger and Hoeneß.

That Bayern has historically largely relied on German players is reflected in this team with Ribèry the only foreigner to feature. Even most of the players I found hard to omit from the team are German like Maier, Augenthaler and Matthäus. The absence of a prominent No.10 is another interesting feature of Bayern’s history with the club never having players like a Platini, Zico or Zidane. This is a good fit with the fact that most of the best German No.10’s surprisingly never played for Bayern either: Overath, Netzer, Schuster, Littbarski, Häßler, Möller and Özil.

Each of the players I chose was part of a European Cup winning Bayern team although this was not a prerequisite for selection.

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16 thoughts on “Bayern Munich Post-War Eleven

  1. I don’t hold any respect for this club at all after the debacle of the 1975 ECF against Leeds.

    They where cheated out of it almost as bad as the CWC final against Milan and I often wonder just what ‘influence’ Bayern had over the referee that night as it was as plain as the nose on anyone’s face just how unashamedly pro-Bayern some of his decision making was.

    1. Given you’re right and Bayern really influenced the officials that day, isn’t it somewhat strange to still hold a grudge against the club itself rather than against the people who ran the club back then?

      It’s a bit like saying “I don’t hold any respect for the country of Mongolia after what Genghis Khan did”. Doesn’t strike me as very reasonable.

  2. I think the problem with Bayern’s long term image following 1975 is the way in which the whole matter was handled at the time (and subsequently) by both UEFA and Bayern itself. Given the appalling and blatant bias in the game, the result should have been declared void. The fact that forty years after the event the game is still talked about as a flagrant fix is testament to how obvious it all was yet there has never been any recrimination or substantial investigation at an official level against the club. I accept your Genghis Khan analogy but the fact that Hoeness, Beckenbauer et al are still so prominent within the club despite having been integral to the whole episode does someone mitigate your argument. Likewise, the prominent displaying of the 4 stars above the club badge is somewhat offensive in that one of them was acquired through ‘dubious means’. It is one of football’s great unknowns as to how that match would have finished had the Leeds goal not been wrongly disallowed and / or if Leeds not been denied at least one blatant penalty. What is known is that the 1975 final was not won within the spirit or laws of the game. That is why the bad blood still exists and will continue to do so.

    1. Still, to hold a grudge against a whole club based on one game… Seems extremely harsh to me. And I doubt that players like Beckenbauer and Hoeneß involved in that game can be blamed even if people who ran the club back then did influence the officials. To look at the whole history of a football club, spanning decades of football and involvement in cultural and sporting history and then to say “But there is this ONE game so I can’t respect that club!”… I can’t really understand that.

      That is not to say that one cannot hold a grudge against a club because of it’s past. Real Madrid for example to this day have an extremely uncritical look on their relations to the fascist regime of General Franco. In my opinion that is, to say the least, problematic.

      By the way, I’m no Bayern supporter. That doesn’t guarantee that my argument is sound, but I can say that I’m not obviously biased.

  3. Hi,

    nice team.

    My critical opinion: Sören Lerby (CM) and Jorginho (RB) should be on the bench as well. Kohler might replace Schwarzenbeck, if he had played a longer period at Bayern. Matthäus to me is the strongest of the CM-Trio Schweinsteiger, Effenberg, Matthäus. Uli Hoeneß was talented, but below Robbens Level. I don´t think Dieter Hoeneß or Dürnberger should be on that list at all. Mehmet Scholl (AM/WG) might be on it.

    Cheers, Nick

    1. Hi Nick,

      thanks for your comment.

      Concerning Lerby and Jorginho: The problem with them is that they’ve both only played three seasons for Bayern. Was the quality of their performances really so good that it compensates for this lack of quantity?

      I agree with you on Kohler. But Schwarzenbeck really was a very good player and he played a staggering15 years for the club!

      Matthäus really was a player of sensational quality. But there are some issues that stopped me from including him in the first eleven. I even thought about including a part named “The Curious Case of Lothar Matthäus” in the article.

      As mentioned in the article, Matthäus had his best playing years not at Bayern but at Inter. That doesn’t automatically exclude him from the team but one should keep it in mind. If you think about how great Matthäus was, you propably have his Inter days or the World Cup of 1990 in your head. Not necessarily his time at Bayern.

      Second, Matthäus time at Bayern is split in two. He played there from 1984-88 and from 1992-2000. During most of his second spell he played as a libero, not as a central midfielder. This switch raises some questions. When I think about fielding Matthäus as CM (propably instead of Effenberg, given they surely can’t play alongside each other) should I ignore his years playing libero? If I should, Matthäus only played four seasons for Bayern (as a CM). That drastically diminishes the case for fielding him in this position.

      And I can’t play him as a libero. Beckenbauer occupies that position.

      As you see, including Matthäus isn’t that easy. Although he was one of Bayern’s all-time greats it’s hard to find a place in the team for him.

      1. Hi Lukas Tank,

        thanks for your reply.

        Let´s start with Lerby and Jorginho:

        Lerby came in 1983 and had personally a poor first season (although winning the DFB-Cup), after which Udo Lattek wanted to sell him. Within the next 2 seasons, he became the dominant personality in Bayern Munichs play (in cooperation with 1984 signing Matthäus, but I´ll come to that later…; I´d love to see, if Batty chose one of them ;)… ), resulting in two consecutive championships plus another cup in 1986, and the personal Ballon d’Or results of a 12th Place (1985) and a 13th Place (1986). Comme (bigsoccer.com) rates him 5th best CM in 84-85 (right behind Matthäus) and 2nd in 85-86.
        Also his two major tournaments with Danish Dynamite were in this period. Lerby was very good away from Bayern at Ajax and later with PSV, but his Bayern-Time was World Class as well.

        Jorginho was the first Brazil-International to play in the Bundesliga. After a strong period at Bayer Leverkusen, he was signed by Bayern who had finished 91-92 Season in 10th place, the worst result for decades.
        With new signings Jorginho and Matthäus 😉 Bayern went back to the Top with a last-matchday-finish 2nd place behind Werder Bremen and with the Title in 1994. 1994 Bayern had to beat Schalke in the last Match to stay ahead of Kaiserslautern. Jorginho was left out of the team, because he had travelled to a national team game before, which coach Beckenbauer didn´t want him to. After only 20 Minutes, Beckenbauer changed his mind and sent Jorginho on the pitch. He scored the decisive 2:0 after 60 mins followed by the legendary Senna-Stearing-Wheel-Celebration. Unsurprisingly, he was elected for the L’Équipe Team of the year 1993 and 1994 as the World´s best right-back. (For Ballon d’Or he wasn´t eligible). So I think the Bayern-Time (filled with the 1994 WC) was his absolute peak. Such a shame, he went to Japan at only 30 years old.

        In my opinion, these facts justify bench-places for both, despite the only-three-years-spans.

        Matthäus is a little more complicated indeed.

        I guess, if we have a look at the whole career of these players, Matthäus is outstanding without any doubt. Even though I never liked him during his career, in the retrospective I have to perceive, he was the best Box-to-Box-Midfielder the World has ever seen due to his variety of technical and expecially physical skills.

        You´re absolutely right, when you say, his peak was at Inter, but this is no reason to me to forget about his Bayern-Years.
        If we have a closer look at his Bayern-Career (1984-88 & 1992-00) we see pretty different periods as you wrote. Matthäus came from Mönchengladbach, being a fresh player of International Class. During his first Bayern-Period he was ranked 24th (86), 12th (87) and 6th (88) in Ballon d’Or. kicker rated him International Class in 84, 85, 87 and 88 and World Class in 86, when he was also the best Outfield-Player in the German World Cup Campaign. Comme rated him World Class in 86/87 and 87/88, and 4th CM in 84/85, 14th CM in 85/86 (rating doesn´t care about the WC), 1st CM in 86/87 and 87/88.

        After that he was signed by Inter, where he was even stronger, no doubt (!), but he was one of the best before he left Bayern as well.
        When he came back in 1992, he still played well (kicker: 93:IC; 94: IC; 96: IC; 97: IC; 98: IC; 99: WC; L’Équipe: 9th best Centerback in 99) but due to injuries he soon was not the ultra-dynamic Player from the eighties and early nineties, which was the reason that he became sweeper. He was a sweeper of international class, but to me he never was one of the very best in the world in that position. Some of his last seasons (and especially the EURO 00 playing already for NY Metrostars, when i.e. (old) Hagi passed by him like a D-Train passes a bicycle) even had bad influence on people´s recognition of his play. But anyway he played 12 Seasons for Bayern of which at last 10 were at minumum a good international level, with two or three World Class Years (especially in the first period).

        Effenberg was 6 years at Bayern 90-92 & 98-02.
        kicker rated him IC in 91, 92, 98, 99 and 01. In 2000 he was even rated WC.
        He was 17th in World Footballer of the year in 01 and in Ballon d’or he was 21st (91), 18th (99) and 13th (2001). He was also UEFA Club Footballer of the year in 99 (even though he was not even voted UEFA Midfielder of the year, but that´s another topic).
        I guess one could say, in their Bayern-specific-peaks they are comparable, but in their Bayern-logevity 12 years beat six and even if they were close, I´d keep the general career in mind. Anyway, I absolutely respect your arguments.

        Schweinsteiger is now in his 12th professional season for Bayern. To me, within the last few years he became one of the major CMs in World football. So without any doubt, and without researching the same stats again for him: If he gets rid of his ongoing injury problems and stays with Bayern just a few more years with similar effort, he will without any doubt be a sure starter in this team forever.

        I´m very pleased, finding someone, who´s able to talk to me on theses subjects on this level.

        The early Matthäus years were not that present in my mind, as I was born in 79, being 9 years old, when he went to Inter and being a cologne-fan, e.g. a bayern-hater, but I did a lot of research, as I was part of building up the german football archive for the DFL (Bundesliga-ssociation) during my studies, which meant like watching everything again (or sometimes for the first time), and afterwards being editor of the season’s retrospectives on kicker.de for 50 years of Bundesliga.

        Cheers

  4. Hi Nick. First things first, your reply is absolutely fantastic and your knowledge about football history is really impressing.

    I, too, hold Matthäus in high esteem. He is the player I found the hardest to omit. In a way he is the best midfielder ever to play for Bayern. But, due to his relatively short period of playing for Bayern as a midfielder, he isn’t the best Bayern midfielder ever. Well, he comes close, but for me he narrowly misses the first eleven.

    That of course is just my opinion and although historic football rankings are NOT entirely subjective this particular one is because both positions have their merit.

    By the way, did I read your first comment correctly if I assume that your Post-War Bayern Eleven would be:

    Kahn

    Lahm Beckenbauer Schwarzenbeck Breitner

    Matthäus Schweinsteiger
    Robben Ribery

    Rummenigge
    G. Müller

    It’s interesting that, except for Rene Maric from spielverlagerung.de, pretty much nobody said that Sepp Maier should play instead of Kahn.

    “I´m very pleased, finding someone, who´s able to talk to me on theses subjects on this level. ”

    You’re certainly not the only one who is pleased to have this conversation.

    Although I’m certainly no Bayern supporter and I’m not really in awe of their historic sides (I like Cruyff’s Ajax over Beckenbauer’s Bayern (and Pep’s Barca over Pep’s Bayern)) I chose three Bayern players for my World Post-War Eleven: Lahm, Beckenbauer and Müller.

  5. Hi Lukas Tank,

    thanks for your reply (and also for the Batty XIs).

    I think both our opinions are legitimate. 😉

    Yes, my team would be the one you wrote down.
    2nd Team if I don´t forget anyone: Maier – Jorginho, Augenthaler, Kohler, Lizarazu – Roth (Jeremies) – Effenberg, Lerby (Ballack) – U. Hoeneß (T. Müller), Scholl (Zé Roberto) – Élber (Makaay).

    René Maric and you do know each other? Sometimes the world is very small indeed! I also had a few E-Mail-Converstaions with him. Also a nice guy with a lot of competence!

    Cheers, Nick

    1. Hi Nick,

      the Batty XIs, I must say, aren’t my work. I’m just a guest writer on BTLM. The only other article I’ve written is on how Beckenbauer decided the ’74 WC final.

      Yes, I am a regular commentator on spielverlagerung.de, recorded some podcasts with them and featured in their fantasy football tournament. To be called “Barcelona expert” by them is my one standout achievement as a football enthusiast. 😉

      As mentioned by Craig, I am German. So there is relatively little chance that I am interested in tactics and football history and fancy stuff like that and don’t know the guys from spielverlagerung.

      Cheers, Lukas

      1. Ach, du bist auch deutscher. Hatte ich irgendwie überlesen. Lustig, dass wir die ganze zeit auf englisch schreiben… Jetzt weißich auch wer Dubist. Ich hab zu dem fantasy draft dam als übrigens das fifa Turnier mit euren Teams erstellt, das spielverlagerung auf Facebook veröffentlicht hat… 😉 Erinnere mich noch gut an deine raumarchitekten!

      2. Da ich kein Facebook habe, ist das völig an mir vorbeigegangen. Musst mir unbedingt den Link schicken!

        Ich stehe zwar zu meinem Team und es entspricht auch meinen fußballerischen Überzeugungen und war insofern die richtige Wahl, aber im Nachhinein denke ich manchmal, dass es auch zu schön gewesen wäre, den devil’s advocate zu spielen und eine gnadenlose Maurertruppe aufzustellen. Wäre vermutlich kaum honoriert worden, da fast Niemand Unentschieden gewählt hat damals und es wohl schwierig gewesen wäre, viele Leute zu überzeugen, dass ich einen Konter hätte ins Ziel bringen können.

  6. gerne! Unter http://www.easports.com/fifa/football-club/creation-centre
    Musst Du das Turnier SV FantasyDraft (wirklich ohne Leerzeichen zwischen Fantasy und Draft) suchen. Dann Turnier markieren. Dann Konsole an und in FIFA unter Anpassen auf Creation Centre gehen. Dann kannst Du das Turnier auswählen. Die Stärken dürften sich leicht verändert haben, da EA den Schlüssel geändert hat, aber müsste trotzdem noch Spaß machen. René hat damals behauptet, von Euch würde keiner FIFA spielen 😉

    Am härtesten fand ich das Team mit Ki in der IV!

    Klar, ein Konter-Team wäre interessant gewesen. Am besten mit Traianos Dellas als Libero 😉

    1. Ich selbst spiele nur alle Jubeljahre mal offline mit Freunden Fifa. Das Turnier kann ich auch leider erst frühestens in ein paar Wochen angucken. Aber trotzdem Danke für den Link!

      Hast du Twitter oder so?

  7. nice page. but reluctant to admit effenberg, the true leader. No other player in soccer history has perplexed opponents like he did. Such a true leader that his opponents turn pale at the sight of him.

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