Germany’s loss to Hungary in the Nations League came as quite a surprise with a number of players having an off-night and performing below par. Captain for the night Thomas Müller was just one such player whose display can be filed under ‘not the usual standard.’
The worrying thing is that this is a carry over from the Bundesliga and Germany’s Raumdeuter may be suffering a loss of mojo at the most inopportune moment- two months before the start of the World Cup.
“The first half was very disappointing,” Müller explained after Germany’s 1-0 loss to Hungary. “We made far too many mistakes, and you could feel that many in their clubs are not going through the easiest phase. Without pressure we made mistakes and almost everyone was affected.”
Müller himself is not going through the easiest phase with Bayern Munich and he clearly looked affected against the Hungarians in Leipzig. The added burden of leading the side looked exactly that (a burden) and he struggled to provide the assists we’ve come to expect as standard and had a generally poor game.
The 4-2-3-1 formation had him in the middle of the attacking three with clubmates Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry either side and Timo Werner upfront. He had 48 touches and two efforts on goal (his poor header was the clearest chance). He created two chances and had a passing accuracy of 76%. The 33-year-old however seemed to miss his usual ability to be in the right place at the right time and was missing completely for the goal when his poor marking allowed Adam Szalai a free run at the ball.
His club form with Bayern of late has mirrored this. Müller has been world-class over the past three seasons being directly involved in 90 goals (27 scored, 63 assists), but in Bayern’s current slump in form he’s scored none and assisted none in the past five matches.
Is Müller losing his mojo at the worst time possible? Is his place in the starting line-up under threat?
Former Bayern midfielders Mario Basler and Stefan Effenberg have differing views on this question and recently went head-to-head on the German TV programme STAHLWERK Doppelpass on SPORT1. “It’s not in question what Thomas Müller has done in the past few years, we are however in the here and now” Basler explained. “We have the European Championships in two years, and we know where they’re taking place [Germany].
“With a view to the European Championships in two years, I would already start forming a team today. I believe that Thomas Müller will no longer be a national player in two years,” the SPORT1 expert added.
“Müller’s time is slowly coming to an end. It might be good to send a signal and leave Müller out to give the others a chance. Musiala and Sané have to play, Kai Havertz is also up front for me. In addition, Ilkay Gündogan is a class better than Thomas Müller in terms of football.”
Stefan Effenberg however countered Basler’s argument insisting that Müller had to start. “Müller is untouchable. He’s providing the assists; they are just not being converted. He is a player with unbelievable standing, a big personality, who has won everything.
“He knows how to play such tournaments. We have other issues at Bayern and in the national team other than Thomas Müller. I’m more worried about Gnabry and Werner than Müller. You need to look at who is ready for this tournament, not look at the European Championships.”