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You’ll be hard pressed to find a more enduring and effective partnership than the one currently shared by Bayern Munich wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, but there are a fair few Bundesliga duos who have come close.

bundesliga.com picks out the best superhero-sidekick combos of recent years…

1. Robbery (Bayern)

A wing partnership that is so good it even has its own nickname, the quite brilliant understanding between Ribery and Robben – aka Robbery – has defined one of the most successful eras in Bayern history. Both are the archetypal inverted wingers: Ribery, a right-footer who has spent the last decade dazzling on the Bayern left; and Robben, whose signature angled run and curled left-footed finish remains as feared by opposition defenders today as it was when he started out in football 18 years ago. They have shared countless highs – six Bundesliga titles and the redemptive 2012/13 UEFA Champions League final triumph over Borussia Dortmund in which Ribery set up Robben for the winner – and their fair share of lows – various injury setbacks and the Finale Dahoam Champions League final defeat to Chelsea in 2012. Yet here they are – 34 years young, conceivably as good as they ever were. If and when they do leave – both are out of contract in the summer – it would be fitting that they do so in tandem, their place in Bayern legend sealed for eternity.

Watch: Arjen Robben’s top 5 Bundesliga goals

2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund)

A close personal friendship is also at the heart of the duo who were the main catalysts behind Borussia Dortmund‘s stunning 2015/16 season. Though they finished runners-up to Bayern in the league, Thomas Tuchel’s men were the Bundesliga’s top scorers, plundering a massive 82 goals that term. Aubameyang struck 25 with his Armenia international cohort hitting 11 and laying on a further 20. “They are players who have played together, who know each other well and have had a successful period together,” said the Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who reunited ‘Auba’ and ‘Miki’ at the Emirates Stadium last month hoping for some Dortmund deja vu. “We are an offensive team and that’s why I hope they can recreate that perfect understanding they had at Dortmund.”

Watch: Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan do The Running Man


3. Timo Werner & Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig)

RB Leipzig‘s debut Bundesliga season could hardly have gone better, and the 2016/17 runners-up owe a great debt for that to these two. Seven of Forsberg‘s league-high 19 laser-guided final balls provided Werner with the opportunity to score; the former Stuttgart striker eventually tallied 21 goals in his breakthrough season to finish as the division’s leading German scorer and earn a call up from Joachim Löw. Werner set up four of Forsberg’s eight league strikes last term, and while injury for the Sweden international has hindered their 2017/18 so far, they have a bright future.


Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg (l.-r.) embodied Leipzig’s turbo-charged debut camaign in the Bundesliga. © gettyimages

4. Kevin De Bruyne and Bas Dost (Wolfsburg)

“He will never shoot when he sees a man in a better position. I like those players, the sort who always think of the team. He is an outstanding player and therefore I hope that he will stay,” Dost said of De Bruyne in summer 2015 with the Belgian wizard on the verge of joining Manchester City. It is hardly surprising the Dutch forward wanted De Bruyne to remain at Wolfsburg after the season they had just enjoyed together. Dost scored 16 times, five of which were teed up by De Bruyne, who broke the Bundesliga record with an astonishing 22 assists. Oh, and he scored ten goals himself too, playing the central role in Wolfsburg’s runners-up finish in the league and DFB Cup final triumph… guess who became the fifth foreigner to be named Germany’s Player of the Year that year?


Kevin De Bruyne (r.) brought the very best out of Bas Dost (l.) at Wolfsburg. © imago

5. Franck Ribery & David Alaba (Bayern)

Pranks and end product in equally massive amounts sums up the bond built between the two Bayern stars. Ribery befriended Alaba when the Austrian star — nine years his junior — was just 16 at Bayern’s youth academy, and the pair’s off-the-pitch rapport has translated into one of the Bundesliga’s most potent partnerships on it. Indeed, their ability to read the other’s game has been priceless in giving Bayern the sharpest of cutting edges down the left. “I prefer playing with him, and he is glad when I am on the pitch as well. There is an understanding between us,” said Ribery, who has featured in 103 Bundesliga games with his left-flank partner as the duo have played a fundamental role in five successive title wins.

6. Philipp Max and Caiuby (Augsburg)

At the start of the season, the Augsburg pair would not have been in this discussion, but to now leave them out would be a glaring omission. The fact they have featured in every game to date has helped them forge one of the most productive partnerships in the league. While Max has propelled himself into contention for a place in Germany’s World Cup squad with ten assists, he owes his Brazilian team-mate a debt of thanks for turning half of them into goals. “I only need a look to know what he is thinking, and he knows what to expect from me,” explained Caiuby, whose telepathic reading of his team-mate’s delivery has enabled him to score a league-high three times from corners. “For me, we have one of the best left flanks in the league.” Few would argue…

Watch: Philipp Max on his World Cup dream

Caiuby and Philipp Max (l.-r.) have been in flying form for Augsburg so far this season.
Caiuby and Philipp Max (l.-r.) have been in flying form for Augsburg so far this season. © imago

7. Raul & Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke)

After getting a feel for each other’s game at Real Madrid, where Huntelaar never came close to matching Raul’s iconic status, they teamed up again in Gelsenkirchen. Though they won the 2010/11 DFB Cup together — Raul scoring in the semis against Bayern; Huntelaar doubling up in the final against Duisburg — the following season was when they clicked devastatingly. They combined for 44 of Schalke‘s 74 league goals that season with Huntelaar striking a league-high 29 as the Royal Blues finished third. His strike rate of 48 goals in as many competitive outings that season was directly and indirectly helped by his Spanish strike partner, whose formidable reputation meant opposing defences focussed on Raul, affording ‘The Hunter’ valuable time and space.

Watch: Raul’s top 5 Bundesliga goals

8. Neven Subotic & Mats Hummels (Dortmund)

Partnerships are also about stopping goals, and Dortmund’s centre-back duo were the rock on which Jürgen Klopp built back-to-back Bundesliga title triumphs. Not merely reliant on their imposing 6 foot-plus physiques, Subotic and Hummels‘ clarity in reading the game and covering for each other ensured opponents always struggled to create openings, never mind score goals. It says much about their qualities that Dortmund boasted the best defensive record when they won the 2010/11 title with the second-most prolific attack. The following campaign, they were crowned champions with the most goals in the league, and yet still had the third-best defence. “Mats was already one of the best defenders in Germany two years ago. Now he’s the best by some distance,” said an admiring Subotic, who was not far behind.


Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels (l.-r.) formed the bedrock of Dortmund’s back-to-back Bundesliga title wins. © imago

9. Edin Dzeko & Grafite (Wolfsburg)

It is appropriate perhaps that Wolfsburg’s against-the-odds title triumph was fuelled by an unlikely couple. Edin Dzeko had been struggling to make a living never mind score goals in the Czech Republic’s backwaters, while Grafite had done no more than impress moderately at Le Mans in France. Combine the two, though, and you had goalscoring dynamite. They teamed up for a Bundesliga record 54 goals — Grafite leading the league with 28 — beating the mark set by Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeness in 1971/72. Zvjezdan Misimovic was an important element in the equation as he set a then-top-flight best of 20 assists, but a final ball still needs a final touch, and Wolfsburg’s sensational front pair provided it.


Only Grafite (r.) scored more Bundesliga goals than Edin Dzeko (l.) in Wolfsburg’s title-winning campaign of 2009. © imago

10. Leon Bailey & Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen)

What is most exciting about Leverkusen‘s dynamic duo is that there is undoubtedly so much more to come. Brandt, 21, has already made great forward strides since breaking into the Leverkusen first team, while Bailey‘s first full season with Die Werkself has been an unqualified success. Brandt had a hand in the Jamaica international’s goal in the Matchday 19 win over Hoffenheim, tangible evidence of the budding understanding the pair have struck up that can be seen in their slick inter-passing and intelligent movement for one another. Only Bayern have triumphed on the nine occasions the youngsters have started a Bundesliga game together… Watch this one carefully!

Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey (l.-r.) have fuelled a resurgent Leverkusen's top-four push in 2017/18.
Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey (l.-r.) have fuelled a resurgent Leverkusen’s top-four push in 2017/18. © gettyimages / Matthias Hangst

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