After five consecutive banknotes and even more public discussions Thomas Müller was in the Champions League game in Olympiakos Piraeus (3: 2) back in the starting eleven. His record: a conceded conceding goal, a positional rut, two co-debted goals and a short appearance in the mixed zone.
For about a minute, Thomas Müller spoke meaninglessly in the mixed zone after the game and did that very snide and irritated, while at the same time grinning somehow mischievous. The words contrasted with facial expressions. So you did not really know what you’re all about – and that was somehow symbolic of Müller’s first start-up after five competitive matches he started on the bench.
First of all, the question arose whether coach Niko Kovac Müller for Kingsley Coman ordered in the starting eleven, because he was physically convinced of this measure. Or if he did not do it a bit to end the ongoing discussions about Muller’s reserve role.
Kovac pleaded for the former version, but of course he had no choice. “I’m not someone who can be influenced from the outside, I try to decide with my coaching team to the best of my conscience,” he told Muller’s starting place before the match. “Thomas has experience in this very, very hot stadium, he knows how to behave, and I think Kingsley looked a bit exhausted due to his many international appearances. Thomas is fresh and will make a good play today.”
And so on the second question: Was Kovac right with his prophecy, did Müller really make a really good play? Oh well.
Thomas Müller was directly involved in three goals
In the 4th minute Müller appeared for the first time when he produced a wild ricochet near the side-line right in front of the eyes of Kovac, it should not be his last in the game. Two minutes later, Müller forwarded the ball to Philippe Coutinho, who then came to the first conclusion of the game. Müller did not take place, but next to his main rival and thus on the right wing.
At the pre-game press conference, Kovac had stated that this was “not his chocolate position,” but also recalled that Müller had become World Champion (and World Cup top scorer). After about 25 minutes on the right instead of chocolate-sweet minutes on the right Kovac but put to: Müller in the middle, Coutinho to the left and Serge Gnabry from there to the right.
Shortly before the Rochade Müller had too easy to be dubbed by Konstantinos Tsimikas, whose cross led to the 0: 1 by Youssef El-Arabi. Müller conceded no further goals on the new position, but he was involved in two of his own crucial. First, he shot so well that Olympiakos keeper Jose Sa only let the ball clap and Robert Lewandowski used the extra margin to 1: 1 (34). Then he put the ball as a result of a corner thoughtfully to just that Lewandowski by, who scored the 2: 1 (62).
Niko Kovac and Hasan Salihamidzic refuse to score
The castling from world champion to chocolate position had changed everything. “That was certainly a good move from us,” praised Kovac for himself – but he did not want to praise Müller on explicit demand. “That should evaluate others,” he explained only. Sports director Hasan Salihamidzic was certainly none of the others. “Tossing around on this personality every time is a bit too much,” he said, addressing Müller. “It was a team performance today.”
If his coach and sports director did not make it, after all, his teammates lost praising words about Müller. “He organizes a lot in front, opens up spaces, moves into the right positions, and through his cleverness and clever ideas, he gives us situations in which we can score twice,” said Manuel Neuer. David Alaba said: “Thomas is one who works a lot, walks a lot, that’s what makes him the difference.”
Thomas Müller: Many duels, a few words
Until his substitution for Ivan Perisic in the 87th minute Müller led 16 tackles and thus most of all Bayern players, but won only about 31 percent of it – the third worst value of his team. His pass rate of only about 72 percent was even the second worst.