Thomas Muller has raised his game again in the World Cup and has been outstanding, except for his blunder on a free kick attempt against Algeria. For the Germans to beat continental rivals France on Thursday, Muller needs to continue his goal scoring prowess.
“He has instinct for creating dangerous situations and scores in situations where you don’t expect it. Thomas is a very unorthodox player; sometimes you don’t really know or cannot predict his pathways on pitch, he is difficult to interpret for opponents, but he has one aim – how can I score a goal? That is the only focus and is what makes him so dangerous, he is a born scorer,” said Germany manager Joachim Low.
Unlike his club record at Bayern Munich, the 24-year-old’s proficiency in the World Cup is simply amazing. During his first appearance in 2010, Muller won the golden boot at the tournament, he was tied with three other people with five goals but won outright due to having the most assists out of the bunch, and this year heading into the quarterfinals he already has four goals, including a hat trick against Portugal, and two assists. The three-time Bundesliga winner has played most of the tournament as Die Mannschaft’s center forward and even though it isn’t his natural position, he has the size, positioning, technique and work rate to be great at the spot and it’s paid dividends for his team. For his total football mentality he thanks his former manager and current Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal who instilled a belief in the 2010 World Cup’s Best Young Player Award winner.
“I am very grateful to Van Gaal. The help I received under his leadership has brought me the results I see today. Not every coach would have expressed confidence in such a young player like me. Someday I will thank him personally for everything he has done for me,” said Muller in 2011.
Muller is able to play anywhere in the attacking midfield and on the front three forward positions. When asked about his natural position, he once told German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung that he was a “raumdeuter” which translates to a space interpreter. Because of this definition along with his style of play he often get compared to soccer legend and Bayern Munich icon Gerd Muller who famously was always at the right place to score goals even though they weren’t the most beautiful.
The 2012-13 Champions League champion does not apply to the term ‘false nine’ because he has the conventional physique to play the position unlike his teammate Mario Gotze or Lionel Messi. German journalist Stephan Uersfeld may have come up with a new term to describe Muller in his June 30 article for ESPN FC.
“It’s unorthodox. It’s unpredictable. Midfielder and poacher, Muller is the free radical in Germany’s new system. A straying nine,” said Uersfeld.
Germany used to play the 4-2-3-1 mostly but due to the rise of creative players coming from the country along with Low’s attacking philosophy, the three-time World Cup winners play in a 4-3-3 with plenty of passing and movement involved. Because of this, Muller’s play is critical to their success because the side depends on him to run the channels accurately to open up the pitch while making timely passes if he’s deep in the midfield. Germany may maintain possession the majority of the match against Les Bleus but have to watch their counterattack and remember to move with purpose instead of the dull horizontal passing they did against Algeria.
“The lad’s fast, he’s got a good technique – he’s going to be a great player. I am certain that Thomas Müller will eventually get the World Cup goal record, as he still has two or three more World Cups in him,” said Gerd Muller to FIFA.com.
Currently, teammate Miroslav Klose is tied with the legendary Ronaldo as the all time goalscoring leader in the World Cup with 15. Klose still has the opportunity to be the sole leader but Muller has the skill barring injury to pass that one day.