The Bundesliga celebrated the 60th anniversary of it’s inception in 2023, and to mark the occasion, the Bundesliga official website held a vote for the league’s all-time eleven. Fans were asked to vote on their pick for a goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders, and three forwards, all from a preselected list of players that have left their mark on the Bundesliga. Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels was one of the three defenders to get the nod.
The full Bundesliga All-Time XI lines up as follows:
This is basically just a Bayern Munich XI. In fact, every single player here has at some point represented Bayern Munich, and it’s only Miroslav Klose that wasn’t at their peak when playing for Bayern. It’s hardly surprising that the Bundesliga’s best eleven is dominated by Bayern Munich, however, given that a) they are far and away the most dominant team in the league’s history, and b) they are the most widely supported team so their fans probably dominated the voting.
Unfortunately, that meant that the other BVB players that made the shortlist — Jens Lehmann, Matthias Sammer, Jürgen Kohler, Marco Reus, and Erling Haaland — didn’t make the cut. However, if I’m being fair, I think the only one I could make a case for is Sammer, but even then I don’t know who I’m dropping to make room for him.
On balance I don’t have that many complaints about the results of the All-Time XI vote, besides it being a slightly funky formation. I think the biggest issue is that the results seem to suggest some recency bias. I think the biggest omission of all is Lothar Matthäus, who is not only one of the greatest Bundesliga midfielders ever but in the discussion for one of the greatest central midfielders in the history of the sport. Not only did he not make it into the Bundesliga XI, he finished sixth, also trailing Toni Kroos. The five people that finished ahead of Matthäus are all legends in their own right, but I’m not sure how many (if any) I’d take over Matthäus. Perhaps his completely insufferable media personality hurt him here...
Elsewhere, I think Oliver Kahn and Marc-André ter Stegen receiving more votes than Sepp Maier is probably a function of recency bias. Lucio receiving more points than Matthias Sammer also seems a little off to me, though it is possible this one is more a function of Bayern’s popularity. I’d maybe even argue that Rudi Völler and Uwe Seeler receiving fewer votes than Klose is because younger fans don’t realise how good these guys were, though it’s also likely to be influenced by the massive contributions Klose has made to the German national team.
Finally, perhaps the biggest sign of recency bias in all this is the fact that Franz Beckenbauer didn’t receive more votes than any other player on the shortlist at any position. There are a total of twelve players that received more vote points than Beckenbauer, and he didn’t even top the rankings for defenders (Phillip Lahm finished ahead of him by 61 points). Beckenbauer isn’t just the best defender to play in the Bundesliga, he’s the greatest Bundesliga and Germany player ever, the best center back of all time, and easily makes an All-Time XI in the history of the sport. I could count on my hands the number of players better than Beckenbauer!
Every single one of these complaints is minor, bar maybe the Matthäus omission. I’m only quibbling because I find these conversations interesting. But the main takeaway is that Mats Hummels is one of the best center backs in the Bundesliga right now, and one of the best ever. What a way to celebrate 60 years of Bayern Munich occasionally dropping points!
These lists are inevitably open to debate at every turn, so I’m sure there will be lots of strongly held opinions about who was or was not voted in to the Bundesliga XI. Let’s hear it!