Somehow the most competitive league in Europe? I know most people won’t be ready to accept that though.
The tightest title race in a decade, a new set of young players taking the league by the neck, a far closer race for the golden boot, a close race for Europe, and some unexpected relegations. Is there anything this season didn’t have?
The Tom Starke Award: Best Goalkeeper
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Borussia Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel and SC Freiburg’s Mark Flekken ran this one close, but in the end the award for best goalkeeper goes to… Union Berlin’s Frederik Rønnow!
Union Berlin’s game was built around stopping ten chances from the opponent and scoring off of the one chance they got in the match, and key to that was Rønnow making so many key saves over the course of the season, saves that resulted in Union conceding the joint least goals in the league alongside Bayern Munich, and several less from open play.
The Dante Award: Best Defender
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The Bundesliga boasted multiple world class defenders this season, but none came close to Bayern Munich’s Matthijs de Ligt.
Simply ridiculous. By far the best defender in the world. While De Ligt’s season was a bit under the radar during the first half of the season, he exploded after the World Cup. It’s rare to see a centre back being the one deciding games both offensively and defensively, but De Ligt made a habit of it, consistently being Bayern’s top performer during Julian Nagelsmann’s last couple of weeks in charge as well as Thomas Tuchel’s few weeks. The complete defensive package, and with the best possible fire-axe in case of emergencies. De Ligt was ever so close to winning the top award and be the only defender to win that award, but ultimately it had to go elsewhere.
The Xabi Alonso Award: Best Midfielder
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A few players were on the shortlist for this including Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala and Borussia Dortmund (now Bayern Munich)’s Raphaël Guerreiro, but the award must go to Borussia Dortmund alumnus Jude Bellingham!
It’s rare to say this about a player so expensive but the €103m Real Madrid paid for Bellingham was a bargain. The English midfielder is the best no8 in world football right now and is still somehow 19 (turning 20 in a few days). Bellingham’s performances in Dortmund’s midfield three were beyond fantastic and honestly Dortmund will visibly struggle next season without him.
The Franck Ribéry Award: Best Attacker
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This was perhaps the tightest race of all the awards here, with RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku and Dominik Szoboszlai, Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug and SC Freiburg’s Vincenzo Grifo all running it to the very end but the award goes to a man who shares his nationality with the namesake of the award, Randal Kolo Muani!
Kolo Muani was the most productive player in the league with 26 goal contributions in an Eintracht Frankfurt team that often struggled to create chances. Kolo Muani’s individual brilliance was the source of a lot of it, his pace leading the lines on the counter being the impetus for Frankfurt’s attack. Kolo Muani played as the spearhead of Frankfurt’s 3-4-2-1 alongside Mario Götze and Jesper Lindström, and while those two had great seasons too it was all really down to how Kolo Muani played around them and brought them into games with his link-up play and creativity. I saw a spark in him at FC Nantes last year but I never imagined him being this good, especially up-front and not on the left.
Der Cyler d’Or: Germany’s Player of the Year
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Matthijs de Ligt was the prime candidate to unseat the holder of this award and maybe Christopher Nkunku could have held onto his crown if he had stayed fit, but ultimately no one stop the path of Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich.
In a season during which Bayern Munich suffered from inconsistent performances throughout the season, one player was consistently top level every week, and it was Joshua Kimmich. It is not just poetic that Kimmich scored the first goal of the season and started the move for the last goal of the season, rather it is an indictment of how integral Kimmich is to Bayern: the team simply would not be competing in Europe without him. The conditions of Bayern’s build-up play alongside Kimmich’s midfield partners almost always ignoring their defensive and build-up duties, Kimmich was effectively alone in midfield for most of the season, and despite that Bayern always dominated possession and almost always dominated chance creation from deep and in the final third. Kimmich’s ability to ping balls from deep is second to none in the world, which combined with his elite awareness of game situations and tireless engine created a midfield monster. If all else fails, just give the ball to him and watch it fly in the goal from 30 yards out.
What do you think of our picks? Is there anyone you would’ve picked instead? Let us know in the discussion below.