Who are the best players in the world at their given sports? It is a question that has been asked by almost every sports fan around the world. There have been countless amounts of discussions and arguments between sports “experts” about what players are the best at what they do. For basketball fans, it’s the best starting five; for baseball, the best nine; and for soccer it is the best starting XI.

When discussions like these take place, there are only a handful of players that are going to be featured on a majority of people’s lists. When soccer is the topic of choice, it is almost a given that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s names will be featured. And it would be absolutely ludicrous to exclude either of those players when it comes to talking about the best soccer players on the planet. There is however one more player that is so respected, so talented and so irreplaceable that he should no matter what, always feature on someone’s “World XI.”

That player is Philipp Lahm. When looking at the Bayern Munich captain you see a guy who stands 5’7 and weighs 146 lbs; not the ideal soccer build, especially for a defensive player. So how does someone so small make such a big impact? If anyone has ever had the pleasure of watching the Bavarian play, the preconceived notion that he is too small immediately disappears the minute they see him on the field.

What makes Lahm so good is his knowledge of the game. He knows what a player is going to do before they actually do it. Having Pep Guardiola, the same guy who has coached Xavi, Iniesta and Messi say, “He is the most intelligent player I have ever coached”, speaks volumes.

So when, after playing his entire career at the right back position, Guardiola moved the tiny German to the center of midfield; there were many around the soccer world who were a bit perplexed by the decision. In the end it didn’t really matter for Bayern as they had the talent and depth at each position to win the Bundesliga in record time. And to be fair, Lahm would probably be a great winger or striker if he is put in those positions anyway. So why are we talking about this now?

From the outset of this World Cup, it has become obvious that Jogi Loew has maintained that the best spot for the Bayern Munich man is at the centre of midfield, playing just above the back four. Despite Lahm doing a good job there, it has become rather obvious that the weakest part of this German team is their defensive back four.

Philipp Lahm is arguably the best right back in the entire world right now, if not one of the best of all time. This German squad at this point in time does not have the luxury that Bayern does of moving Lahm away from the right-back role. Sami Khedira looked very strong in the game against France and should once again be deployed in the same position against Brazil. There is no reason for Lahm to be put in a position that can be played just as well by someone else. 

Despite the Brazilians not having Neymar, the host of talented players that can hurt you in one-on-one situations is still very large. Phlipp Lahm needs to be back at his right-back role when the German team steps onto the pitch in Belo Horizonte. There should be no question about it. He brings with him the ability to defend players one-on-one, his pace moving forward on the counter and most importantly his knowledge. He reads the game better than anyone else in the world and by deploying him on the wing, Loew is also able to push Boateng into a central defending role along with Hummels; giving the Germans both more strength and pace along the back four.

As I had stated before, Philipp Lahm could be put almost at any position and succeed at it. That being said, his best and most natural spot on the field is at the right back role. By putting him in the central midfield, Loew is taking Khedira out of the game and risking having a back four that has looked as though it could crumble at any second. In the semifinals, you want consistency and stability in the back. Lahm provides exactly those things. Knowing Loew you never know what he is thinking, but if he wants to put the best XI out there, Philipp Lahm needs to be playing at the position that he was born to play.