The Bundesliga this season has been described as a ‘schoolboy league.’ All around Germany teeangers and those just out of the youth ranks have been making big impressions on the big stage.
Perhaps the lone exception to this rule is the team that finds themselves in their usual spot at the top of the table, Bayern Munich. It’s not to say they don’t have promising young players making an impact. Joshua Kimmich has continued to be a revelation and the likes of Renato Sanches and Kingsley Coman will likely have plenty of opportunities as the year progresses.
However, so far in this 2016/17 season, it has been the older veterans that have been carrying the water for the Bavarian giants.
This starts with the reemergence of 33-year-old Franck Ribery. Thought to be done by many, Ribery spent almost all of last season battling injuries and really, Ribery failed to look like himself for most of Pep Guardiola’s tenure at Bayern which spanned from the 2013/14 season through last campaign.
Of course, the season before Guardiola came, Ribery was a world beater. In leading Bayern to a treble in 2012/13, Ribery was a finalist for the Ballon D’or as the world’s best player. Paired with Arjen Robben on the opposite wing, Bayern were an incredible attacking team and the envy of Europe.
Back in the present day, Robben is still rehabbing from his own injury woes, but in his 9th season in Bavaria Ribery has been nothing short of spectacular. Gathering 1 goal and 4 assists in Bayen’s three league games thus far, Ribery has been the catalyst for a Munich attack that currently tops the Bundesliga.
Benefitting from the work that Ribery has been doing along the left is his fellow veteran Xabi Alonso. The soon to be 35-year-old has been a dominant force in the center of the park for die Rote. In addition to scoring two sublime goals, Alonso has patrolled the center of the park with impunity in the early going.
Also getting in on the fun is the club’s captain, Philipp Lahm. Soon to be 33 and internationally retired, Lahm scored what was just his 14th Bundesliga goal in the 6-0 drubbing of Werder Bremen on opening night.
Not letting his attacking prowess go to his head, Lahm has continued to be rock solid in his familiar role of right back. He also continues to be the unquestioned leader of a Bayern side that is overflowing with veteran talent.
In addition to these three, most of the difference makers for Bayern Munich are approaching or have reached the age of 30. Bundesliga leading scorer Robert Lewandowski is 28 and is beginning his sixth season of top flight competition in Germany. Arturo Vidal is also 29 and though they still seem like the young talents they once were, Thomas Müller just celebrated his 27th birthday and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer recently turned 30.
Some may see the age of the Bayern side as a negative, but these players are showing that experience does still count for something. The lone weakness, which showed itself somewhat in last season’s Champion’s League, is injuries.
Old bones and muscles take longer to heal, as even the most fit athletes can attest.
So far, Bayern and its veteran core appear a Bundesliga juggernaut, likely to defend their Bundesliga title once again. Despite the Bundesliga’s youth movement, the older stars of Bayern are continuing to show the kids what it takes to be the champions of the German league.
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