Bleacher Report's Bundesliga Team of the Season
With the Bundesliga campaign all but done for another season, we now turn our attention to the players that did themselves proud this year in the Bleacher Report Bundesliga Team of the Season.
This squad is as much about the form of each player throughout the season as it is about the initial and genuine quality that they may have already possessed—a list of the best 11 players in the German top division this is not.
Instead, we hope to celebrate the players that made this league such a joy to behold and out-performed their colleagues and opponents alike to become the standout player in their position.
Despite Bayern Munich's dominant title win it's Borussia Dortmund who take centre stage with four players in the starting XI, followed by two from the Bavarian giants and Wolfsburg, and one apiece from Schalke, Augsburg and Hoffenheim.
Goalkeeper: Ralf Fahrmann
The Bundesliga is packed with genuine talent between the posts at almost every club.
Despite strong performances from the usual candidates—Manuel Neuer, Roman Weidenfeller, Bernd Leno, etc.—it was shot-stopping new boy Ralf Fahrmann of Schalke who eventually won our hearts.
In his first full season in the Bundesliga, Fahrmann had to bide his time at first as coach Jens Keller continued to opt for Timo Hildebrand over the 25-year-old German. Fahrmann played a part in just one of Schalke's opening 13 games, in which the team managed to win just four matches.
Then came the switch against Stuttgart in late November, a game that Schalke won 3-0, and from then on Fahrmann was the first name on Keller's team sheet.
Twenty-one games and 13 wins later and Schalke had finished the season third with their highest ever Ruckrunde (second half of the season) points tally.
A true breakout season for Fahrmann and one to remember for Royal Blue fans across the world.
Right Back: Kevin Grosskreutz
It may come as a coup of sorts to suggest that the best right back in the Bundesliga this season was, in fact, a make-shift left winger for Dortmund. But when we consider that such a player is none other than Kevin Grosskreutz exceptions must certainly be made.
No other player in the German top division appears to work quite as hard as this 25-year-old German international, so when Jurgen Klopp opted to stick the wide player at right-back in light of a long-term injury to Lukasz Piszczek it just seemed to make sense.
Sure, there are better full-backs in the Bundesliga.
Philipp Lahm is in a league of his own when it comes to the position. While young talents such as Sebastian Jung and Oliver Sorg offer more promise. However, none provided the consistency and overall form of Dortmund's favourite utility man.
Centre Back: Naldo
The first centre-back to make our team should come as no surprise to seasoned Bundesliga fans.
Naldo of Wolfsbug again proved himself to be one of the best defenders in the country outside of Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
Although there were a number of alternatives, such as Bayern's Jerome Boateng, Dortmund's Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Naldo's own defensive partner Robin Knoche, none offered the leadership and experience needed to drag Wolfsburg up to a very respectable fifth place finish.
Since Dieter Hecking's arrival at the club, we've seen the Wolves depart on a one way trajectory towards the top of the table—which has been in no small part down to this Brazilian defender's exquisite talents.
Centre Back: Mats Hummels
To partner the towering presence of Naldo, we have none other than Dortmund's own ball-playing central defender Mats Hummels in the centre of our defence.
Following a rough start to the season that saw many question the long-term ability of the German international followed by a nasty ligament injury over the winter break, Hummels finally caught a break in the second half of the season.
He goes into this summer's World Cup as a sure starter for Germany, looking like his old self.
When the play-making central defender is on form, he is quite simply one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga and across Europe's divisions. Making him a very nice addition to our team.
Left Back: Ricardo Rodriguez
The position of left-back in this side is perhaps the most fiercely contested aspect of the entire team.
On the one hand, we have the cool, collected excellence of David Alaba. A Bayern prodigy who has come through the club's youth teams and quickly defined himself as one of Pep Guardiola's most important players. And all at the age of 21.
On the other hand, we have the challenger to his title—Wolfsburg's own Ricardo Rodriguez.
Although the Austrian international is still the better player, the Wolves' own full-back has been exceptional this season and importantly played every single game of their impressive campaign.
Like Naldo, Rodriguez has brought an energy and talent to Wolfsburg that we hadn't seen in some time.
Where the flashy, insignificant quality of players such as Diego once ruled the Volkswagen club with little substance, hard-working talent like this Swiss defender now prop it up and desire even more.
Defensive Midfield: Philipp Lahm
When it comes to the exceptional talent of Philipp Lahm, it was always going to be a case of the German international fitting into this side one way or another.
Although the quiet brilliance of the German and Bayern captain is well known, we were fortunate enough to see another side of Lahm this season when Guardiola opted to play him as a defensive midfielder in his tireless task to reinvent the wheel.
Ultimately, Bayern walked to the title amongst an audience of second-rate opposition—only before seeing their true deficiencies exposed against the brilliance of Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Few players came out of that without bumps and bruises aplenty, and Lahm was certainly one of them.
The Bavarian juggernaut may be running on fumes at the moment, but Lahm has continuously performed on clean, green energy throughout this entire season.
Right Winger: Andre Hahn
We're not quite sure what happened between last summer and where we stand today, but all of a sudden Andre Hahn of Augsburg has become one of the hottest prospects in German football.
According to WhoScored.com, the German winger has amassed an incredible 12 goals and seven assists in just 32 games this season—finishing top of his club's goalscoring charts in the absence of a true goal-scoring striker at the club.
To put that into context, this right-winger at overachieving Augbsurg has scored as many goals as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Arjen Robben and just one fewer than Thomas Muller—all at the age of 23 years old.
A break-out season for the young German and we've all thoroughly enjoyed watching.
Attacking Midfielder: Marco Reus
It was always going to be a tricky transition year for Dortmund after losing Mario Gotze to Bayern last May (and the prospect of losing Robert Lewandowski this summer).
However, it will be of some relief to fans that it was none other than Marco Reus who pulled through and dragged them to second place this season.
Where Reus was once the future of Klopp's legacy at Dortmund, he now stands as their key player and sole guardian to any hopes of once again overcoming the might of Munich's biggest club.
The German international scored 21 goals and created 15 assists in just 35 starts for his club this season, according to WhoScored.com.
Those totals are more than Gotze managed in this campaign and just five short of Lewandowski's total for the season—a figure he'll undoubtedly have to match next season.
Attacking Midfielder: Roberto Firmino
Only two teams managed to score more goals than Markus Gisdol's Hoffenheim side this season—Bayern Munich and Dortmund.
Of those two squads, only three players—Reus, Lewandowski and Mario Mandzukic—managed to score more goals than Roberto Firmino.
When we then consider that Hoffenheim went from the brink of relegation last season to a very respectable ninth this year, we begin to understand the true extent of Firmino's 16 goals and 11 assists (as stated by WhoScored.com) in the Bundesliga this time around.
At just 22 years of age, Firmino not only stands out as an exceptional player at Hoffenheim, but as an exceptional player in Germany and will undoubtedly have a whole host of clubs chasing his signature.
Yet for now he's a Bundesliga player, and quite a special one at that.
Left Winger: Arjen Robben
It's now a well told tale that when Pep Guardiola first announced his move to Bayern Munich last year, one of the first players to be considered surplus to requirements was Dutch winger Arjen Robben.
Yet in a truly spirited turn of events it has been Robben, more than perhaps any other forward at Bayern this season, he has out-performed the rest and completely converted to Guardiola's style of play.
Although he spent this season on the right-hand side of Bayern's attack, we opted to slot him in on the left to fit players in.
Mandzukic and Muller may have scored more goals and Franck Ribery may have provided more assists, but more than anything else it has been the relentless athleticism and desire of the Dutch international that has pushed the Bavarian champions towards another title.
Robben is playing the best football of his career at the moment, which inturn makes him one of the best wingers in the Bundesliga.
Striker: Robert Lewandowski
It seems quite fitting that the man to lead the Bundesliga team of 2012/13 is a current Dortmund star and future Bayern Munich goalscorer to be.
This season Lewandowski has yet again finished above all others in the Bundesliga goalscoring charts, with 20 goals in 31 games for Dortmund, according to WhoScored.com.
What makes this all the more impressive is the simple fact that none of it was necessary.
Upon agreeing to a contract with the Bavarian giants, the Polish international was under absolutely no obligation to continue striving for Klopp's side—yet strive he did.
And thanks to his signature, dogged approach to goal scoring, Dortmund were able to tie up second place with room to spare.
A genius in front of goal that Dortmund and Bayern fans alike have enjoyed watching this season.
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