Lahm and Vidal star in kicker’s midfield rankings

Kicker Sportmagazin released part two of the summer 2016 rankings, handing crowns to Philipp Lahm and Arturo Vidal in the midfield.

A reminder of the ranking criteria: a player is evaluated not based on his potential or his career achievement but on the performances from the first of January until the 10th of July (Euro final).

They receive a minimum of nine grades for games played in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, Europe or internationals. The evaluation is also based on the position held the most often.

Defensive wing: Lahm the King

Philipp Lahm has followed the Euro from the comfort of his sofa and wished the best to his club mates via social media. Two years on, his name was still on the lips of every supporter of Die Mannschaft.

The Euro showed clearly that the place he left vacant two years ago remains vacant. Joachim Löw experimented first with central defender Benedikt Höwedes, then with “no.6” Kimmich. The youngster may be a new form of Lahm but the “original” one remains unmatched.

An outstanding second half in the Bundesliga and Champions League prompted Pep Guardiola to say he is the first right-back who can dominate a game from his position.

More significant is the void in “International class”: it emphasizes the Bundesliga’s talent shortage in that position.

World Class

1. Philipp Lahm – FC Bayern

International Class

None

Further consideration

2. Lukasz Piszczek – Borussia Dortmund

3. Jonas Hector – 1. FC Köln

4. David Alaba – FC Bayern

5. Marcel Schmelzer – Borussia Dortmund

6. Fabian Johnson – Borussia Mönchengladbach

7. Mitchell Weiser – Hertha BSC

Mentions

Gaetan Bussmann – 1. FSV Mainz 05; Danny da Costa – FC Ingolstadt; Matthias Ginter – Borussia Dortmund; Pavel Kaderabek – TSG Hoffenheim; Marvin Plattenhardt – Hertha BSC; Rafinha – FC Bayern; Paul Verhaegh – FC Augsburg; Oscar Wendt – Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Piszcek had a convincing Euro; he was consistent, strong and athletic, but he can be more effective when heading towards goal. Hector has met all expectations with the Mannschaft and answered all the critics about developing late as a footballer.

Very ordinary on the left, Alaba was weak in central defense with a mistake costing his team the final against Atletico Madrid. Playing him out of position in the Euro did not help his cause. Consistency was Schmelzer’s trademark, with classy performances in Europa League.

Flying high in the first-half of the season, Ginter had only one goal (no assist) on record, in addition to sometimes shifting in central defense. No room for Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodriguez. Like his team, played below par.

Defensive midfield: powerful Vidal

Matthias Sammer had presented his new signing this way last summer: “Arturo portrays complexity; he is physically strong, has a strong game, is technically great and tactically flexible”.

Vidal looked the contrary earlier in the season: outplayed, anemic and powerless. He became a start in the second half, thanks to technical ingenuity, a relentless fighting spirit and an enormous amount of running. Gala performances in the Champions League (i.e. first leg against Benfica), the Bundesliga, and the Pokal were crowned in the Copa América. His four goals in seven games helped Chile lift the trophy for a second year in a row.

Granit Xhaka was the undisputed midfield leader for Mönchengladbach, but he failed to earn the top spot again to his dismal production. No goal, only one assist.

The season could not have started more badly for newcomer Charles Aranguíz, who suffered a hamstring injury at Leverkusen. A turbo ignition boosted his return in April, lifting his club to a Champions League spot and contributing to Chile’s continental triumph.

World Class

1. Arturo Vidal – FC Bayern

International Class

2. Granit Xhaka – Borussia Mönchengladbach

3. Charles Aranguiz – Bayer Leverkusen

4. Xabi Alonso – FC Bayern

5. Julian Baumgartlinger – 1. FSV Mainz 05

Further consideration

6. Mahmoud Dahoud – Borussia Mönchengladbach

7. Julian Weigl – Borussia Dortmund

8. Clemens Fritz – Werder Bremen

9. Kevin Kampl – Bayer Leverkusen

10. Danny Latza – 1. FSV Mainz 05

11. Christian Gentner – VfB Stuttgart

12. Daniel Baier – FC Augsburg

13. Roger – FC Ingolstadt

14. Per Ciljan Skjelbred – Hertha BSC

Mentions

Maximilian Arnold – VfL Wolfsburg; Max Christiansen – FC Ingolstadt; Jerome Gondorf -SV Darmstadt 98; Leon Goretzka – Schalke 04; Florian Grillitsch – Werder Bremen; Matthias Lehmann -1. FC Köln; Luiz Gustavo – VfL Wolfsburg; Peter Niemeyer – SV Darmstadt 98; Serey Dié – VfB Stuttgart; Tobias Strobl – TSG Hoffenheim

Alonso dropped to fourth place due to his limited European appearances. Weigl had another convincing half, impressing with passing accuracy, but his offensive production was poor.

Two fresh injuries prevented Dortmund’s Lars Bender from making the cut. As for Geis, he faded after his five-game suspension, rather than offering the offensive impulse Schalke brought him in for.

Attacking midfield: Müller downgrade

No one could question Thomas Müller’s commitment and discipline at the Euro, but this time lady luck was absent. He keeps waiting for his first continental goal. He could have achieved a hat trick against Northern Ireland, but found only the net and the post.

He did score crucial goals in Cup competitions for Bayern: the 2:2 in the dying seconds of the return leg against Juventus, the 2:1 lead in the second leg at Benfica and both goals against Bremen in the Pokal semi-final. However, the certainty of a sleepwalker he had showed in the first half of the season had deserted him. He missed twice from the spot: the 2:0 against Atletico Madrid in the semi-final return leg and against the Squadra Azzurra in Euro penalty drama. The kicker newsroom had therefore no choice but to “downgrade” him this time around.

Gonzalo Castro’s change of scenery from Leverkusen to Dortmund bore fruits; he became the pivotal midfielder of his new club. As for Ilkay Gündogan, he was the best achiever in his category until injury deprived him of further matches.

World Class

None

International Class

1. Thomas Müller – FC Bayern München

2. Gonzalo Castro – Borussia Dortmund

3. Ilkay Gündogan – Borussia Dortmund

Further consideration

4. Zlatko Junuzovic – Werder Bremen

5. Ja-Cheol Koo – FC Augsburg

6. Nadiem Amiri – TSG Hoffenheim

Mentions

Halil Altintop – FC Augsburg; Fin Bartels – Werder Bremen; Daniel Didavi – VfB Stuttgart; Yannick Gerhardt – 1. FC Köln; Mario Götze – FC Bayern; Pascal Gross – FC Ingolstadt; Shinji Kagawa – Borussia Dortmund; Hiroshi Kiyotake – Hannover 96; Yunus Malli – 1. FSV Mainz 05; Max Meyer – FC Schalke 04; Lukas Rupp – VfB Stuttgart; Thiago – FC Bayern München

Coming soon: the final part to cover strikers and Germans playing abroad.

(Source: Kicker Sportmagazin, Issue 58, 18 July 2016)