Power Ranking Every Bayern Munich Player from the 2015/16 Bundesliga Season
Bayern Munich wrapped up their 2015-16 Bundesliga campaign on Saturday with a 3-1 win against Hannover. The result left Pep Guardiola's men, crowned champions a week before the final matchday, with 88 points from 34 games, just missing the record of 91 points recorded by Jupp Heynckes' side in 2012-13.
The Bavarians set a new record for fewest goals conceded (17), and their triumph marked a record fourth consecutive league title.
Overall, the league campaign was excellent for Bayern Munich. And for the majority of their players, the same rung true. Following the final matchday, B/R has taken a look at all the Bayern players who played at least half of a Bundesliga game over the course of the season and ranked them based on their performance and contribution to the league title.
Click "Begin Slideshow" to start the countdown to No. 1.
22) Serdar Tasci
Serdar Tasci signed on loan in February as emergency cover for the injured Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber but hardly played any role at all. He was poor in his debut against lowly Darmstadt and substituted shortly after half-time.
Although he earned a couple run-outs toward the end of the campaign, the 29-year-old never recovered the form that made him a Germany international earlier in his career.
21) Juan Bernat
Juan Bernat experienced some positive growth during his first campaign at Bayern but suffered a bit of a sophomore slump this season. The Spanish left-back missed half of the fall campaign with muscular injuries, but despite being fit throughout the spring, he struggled to assert himself as he had in his first year at the Allianz Arena.
The 23-year-old struggled not only when his team did (the 2-1 loss to Mainz and 1-1 draw with Monchengladbach for example) but even at times when they won rather comfortably (Bernat had a poor game in the 5-1 win over Wolfsburg and was substituted with his side a goal down). Much more will be expected of him if he is to impose himself in the Bayern team.
20) Medhi Benatia
Watching Medhi Benatia during the 2015-16 campaign, it's hard to picture how the same player could have been Serie A's best defender just two years ago. The Morocco international scored in the season opener against Hamburg, but it was all downhill from there.
Injuries limited Benatia's contributions, just as they did Bernat's, and in fairness, the ex-Roma man struggled more in the UEFA Champions League than in the Bundesliga. But Benatia was poor in both Bundesliga meetings with Monchengladbach and was even substituted at half-time against Stuttgart and Ingolstadt. By Bayern's lofty standards, he had a subpar campaign.
19) Holger Badstuber
Year after year, Holger Badstuber deserves an A for effort. Few players would have the resilience to suffer as many injuries as the 27-year-old has and maintain the will and drive to regain fitness and carry on with a career in professional football.
With that having been said, Badstuber contributed little to Bayern's Bundesliga title and ranks low on this list. Between lengthy absences because of thigh and ankle injuries, he had a stint of seven games from November until February, during which he looked increasingly convincing. Yet ultimately, it was just a seven-game stint before an ankle fracture kept him out for the remaining months of the campaign.
18) Sebastian Rode
Sebastian Rode's career at Bayern has been difficult, as he's spent two seasons in Munich without having imposed himself as a regular starter. At best, he's been a late substitute.
The 25-year-old took his few chances well this season, particularly in the 3-0 win against Darmstadt during the autumn, in which he scored a goal and assisted another. Yet that wasn't enough to convince Guardiola to play him more, and among his 15 appearances, only five consisted of more than a quarter-hour of action.
Appearing washed up and being overlooked during the treble-winning 2012-13 season, Rafinha experienced a resurgence under Guardiola. The 2015-16 campaign was, however, rather disappointing for the Brazilian.
Rafinha was functional enough for Bayern, but he often had to commit fouls after being beaten. In fact, he picked up a rather high seven yellow cards in the Bundesliga. And Kicker adjudged him to be the least impressive among Bayern's players who were rated for more than half the games during the season. He wasn't particularly poor—just a decided step below the majority of his generally world-class teammates.
16) Mario Gotze
A brace on the final matchday of the campaign didn't save Mario Gotze from a rather low ranking on the Bayern totem pole this season. The World Cup winner looked to be winning Guardiola's trust in the early stages of the campaign, with a goal and assist against former club Borussia Dortmund being a real statement of intent. Yet an injury kept him out until well into the spring, and Guardiola considered him an afterthought by that point.
Whereas the trainer was quick to rush back Franck Ribery, he waited until Gotze had trained with the team for several weeks before letting the player make his return. And although the 23-year-old looked motivated, he lacked the sharpness of many of his teammates and only seemed to be at his best in the final round, after the league had been won.
15) Arjen Robben
A few years ago, Bayern's success was largely dependent on Arjen Robben's form. As the Dutchman went, so did the Bavarians. During the 2015-16 season, however, there was a break away from this rule. Robben missed most of the fall and much of the spring with injuries. And although he played well when fit during the first half of the campaign, he seemed to struggle in the second; after Matchday 13, he scored just one Bundesliga goal and failed to give a single assist.
Bayern struggled from their wide positions, particularly in the Champions League, and it was clear Robben at his best would have benefited them. However, the 32-year-old was either unfit or lacking the cutting edge. As he grows older, he'll need to rediscover his quality or reinvent his playing style if he is to become a key asset once more.
The 2015-16 campaign was the most successful yet for Thiago Alcantara in terms of his fitness, but perhaps the least in terms of his performance. The Spaniard played in more games than ever before during his stay in Munich, but he didn't reach the heights many expected him to achieve once fully fit.
Thiago was brilliant against Dortmund in the fall and especially against Werder Bremen in the spring but failed to impose himself as a regular starter. He had plenty of competition, but with Xabi Alonso in the twilight of his career, more was expected of Thiago.
13) Franck Ribery
On aggregate for the games in which he played, Franck Ribery may have been Bayern's top performer overall. The Frenchman showed that, despite celebrating his 33rd birthday in April, he still has real class. He managed to either score or assist in eight out of his 13 appearances, a phenomenal record given he was a second-half substitute in the majority of his outings.
The reason Ribery is not ranked among the best performers for Bayern is he actually contributed less to the club's success than his record suggests. True, he scored the only goal of the game in the win against Eintracht Frankfurt, but others played more and did more to push the Bavarians to the title.
12) Kingsley Coman
Kingsley Coman exceeded all expectations. Signed on loan from Juventus as a 19-year-old, he was thought by many to be a long-term investment, a player who would grow into a reliable key player over several years. Yet he's already well on his way to stardom.
Coman ended the season with four goals and six assists in the Bundesliga, with a couple of big performances distinguishing him; there were times when he put Bayern on his back. The best example was his masterclass against Werder Bremen, when he provided a hat-trick of assists. Still young, Coman might yet become Bayern's next great winger.
11) Joshua Kimmich
Signed as an investment for the future in midfield, Joshua Kimmich rose to the challenge at Bayern in a big way when he filled in as emergency cover at centre-back. For an undersized player (5'8") who only turned 21 in February, it was an enormous ask. Yet he had no trouble and put in arguably his best performances of the season against second- and fourth-place finishers Dortmund and Monchengladbach.
Toward the end of the campaign, Kimmich played less often but more in his natural position and fared quite well. On the whole, he exceeded expectations perhaps more than any player in the Bayern team and showed just why he is such a well-rated prospect.
10) Manuel Neuer
Clean Sheets: 21
Widely regarded as the world's best goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer had a less spectacular 2015-16 season compared to the previous term. A "sweeper-keeper" in 2014-15, he played behind more mobile defenders in the most recent campaign and stayed on his line more often. As a result, as part of a Bayern team that rarely conceded chances, Neuer made fewer headlines.
Neuer had a couple slip-ups in the fall, particularly against Wolfsburg and Schalke. But he was otherwise quite consistent. When put under pressure, particularly in both games against Dortmund, he rose to the occasion. It's a real achievement for a player to remain so focused despite often having limited work to do between the posts.
9) Jerome Boateng
Among the players who benefited from Pep Guardiola's tenure at Bayern, Jerome Boateng stands out as the most improved. He was already world-class during the treble-winning season of 2012-13, but the ex-Hertha BSC defender took his game to the next level over the recent campaign; what he did in the fall against Borussia Dortmund, delivering two spectacular assists, is something he never would have been able to do a few years ago. Boateng truly has established himself as arguably the world's best centre-back.
Bayern shut out opponent after opponent during the 2015-16 campaign, and Boateng deserves much credit for their setting a new defensive record. Had he played for the entire season, the Germany international might have ranked in the top three or so players on this list. However, his ranking suffers as he missed almost the entire second half of the campaign with a groin injury.
8) Arturo Vidal
Arturo Vidal's 2015-16 Bundesliga season was one of two halves. He arrived at the Allianz Arena out of shape and following a drink-driving scandal at the Copa America. He seemed lethargic and lacking in interest, a shadow of the player who had made a reputation for himself as an aggressive ball-winner.
Yet in the spring, the Chilean pulled himself together and stepped up when his team needed him most. He was arguably the best player on show against Dortmund in a match that effectively ended the title race and was man of the match against Schalke in April.
The reason Vidal is not at the top of this list is that despite his many achievements, most of his best performances came in the Champions League. Still, provided he continues to work hard and keeps his head about him, the 28-year-old could establish himself as a hero in Munich.
7) Javi Martinez
Javi Martinez regained his status as a key player in the Bayern team over the course of the 2015-16 campaign. Having been at the crux of the midfield of the 2012-13 treble-winning team, he played an ambiguous role the following season and spent nearly the entire 2014-15 campaign sidelined with a knee injury. Although he had his fitness issues in the most recent season, Martinez reinvented himself as a real star in the Bayern squad as a central defender.
For the vast majority of the fall and the latter stages of the season, the Spain international was a rock of consistency in the Bayern defense. It's hard to spot one game in which he truly set a foot wrong, and his record is supported by the fact the Bavarians set a record for fewest goals conceded in a Bundesliga campaign (17) on his watch.
6) Philipp Lahm
Philipp Lahm may be 32 years of age, but the captain proved over the last season he is still a great asset to Bayern on a weekly basis. The veteran stepped up in a big way at right-back and delivered assured defensive performances Rafinha simply hadn't in the past and didn't during the 2015-16 campaign.
Interestingly, Lahm seemed to get better as the campaign wore on. His outings during the fall were, by Bayern's lofty standards, a big underwhelming. He defended well enough but offered less dynamism and drive in support of the attack. During the spring, though, he delivered his best performances, being particularly brilliant against Ingolstadt, Schalke, Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen. For an aging player, Lahm still has that special something.
5) David Alaba
It takes real talent for a defender to distinguish himself in a team that controls as much of the ball as Bayern, but David Alaba continues to assert himself as one of football's most versatile talents and perhaps the best full-back in the world.
True, he had his stumbles in the Champions League. But this ranking is based on Bundesliga performance, wherein Alaba was regularly excellent. Against Bremen, Stuttgart and Schalke especially, the 24-year-old excelled. On the left and in the center of defense, in retrieving the ball and bringing it forward to pass or shoot, he can do it all.
4) Douglas Costa
After seeming to stagnate at Shakhtar Donetsk, Douglas Costa hit the ground running after his move to Munich last summer and took the Bundesliga by storm. He carried Bayern in August and September, providing at least one assist in each of his first seven games, contributing directly to 11 goals during that stint.
Costa's form cooled off in the spring, which saw him fall a bit further down this list than one who had only seen him in the early stages of the campaign might have expected. Still, he proved to be a capable replacement for Ribery and later Robben in the Bayern attack, which is no mean feat.
3) Xabi Alonso
At the start of the 2015-16 campaign, it looked as though Bayern had found the replacement for Xabi Alonso in new signing Vidal. The former was approaching 34 years of age and had been found a bit lacking in the Champions League, his mobility having been a cause for concern.
As events unfolded, however, it became clear Vidal helped make Alonso a better player for Bayern, and that instead of the Chilean replacing his teammate, the two excelled together as a partnership in midfield. Alonso was marvelously consistent, spraying the ball to teammates over long distances and positioning himself such that he wasn't caught out defensively. And whereas he looked fatigued later in the 2014-15 campaign and made some poor mistakes, he was much more assured in the most recent season.
2) Thomas Muller
Thomas Muller was Bayern's best player for much of the season, particularly throughout the fall campaign, and his contribution to Bayern's title win was huge. He ended the campaign with 20 goals and seven assists in the Bundesliga, putting him just behind teammate Robert Lewandowski (34) and Dortmund duo Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (both 31) in terms of combined goals and assists in the German top flight.
With Bayern playing much of the season without Robben, and with Costa proving to be more of a setup man than a finisher, the Bavarians needed more goals from Muller than ever before. And goals he delivered. He was outstanding in the big games, scoring five goals against the other teams that finished in the top four.
1) Robert Lewandowski
It was a tight race between Muller and Robert Lewandowski for top honors, but the latter was Bayern's best player of the Bundesliga campaign because of his remarkable consistency. True, he scored five goals in nine minutes against Wolfsburg, an incredible personal achievement but one in which the last two or so were rather gratuitous and did more for himself than the team.
What's more impressive and significant for Bayern's success is that the Poland international played in 32 matches, during which he scored or assisted in 20. And time and time again, he was the man to deliver the all-important opener, and he was again and again decisive in Bayern's victories; he notably produced masterclasses against Wolfsburg, Schalke, Augsburg, Mainz, Hamburg, Dortmund and Hoffenheim, more or less deciding the games on his own.
Lewandowski ended the Bundesliga season with a record of 30 goals in the Bundesliga, making him the first foreigner to reach that tally in the history of the league. He's the best striker Germany has seen in quite some time, and just shy of 28 years of age, he still has plenty of time left to attack the record books.