Round-Up: Player of the Month – March

Maurice Separator April 5, 2018

It was a typical Thomas Müller game. One of those that you will tell your grandchildren, when they ask you in maybe 50 years how this inconspicuous hick could have become one of the great German footballers.

Happy trickster in Breisgau

On a Sunday evening, the Münchners went to Breisgau at an unfamiliar hour. Only the previous week the talented winger Kingsley Coman had injured himself and put a small damper on the hopes of Bayern. To make matters worse, Franck Ribéry was also unable to play against the Freiburg team and they had to go to their always unpleasant opponent with Juan Bernat on the left.

The game was correspondingly tough at the beginning. The record champion was seldom able to pull out their dreaded position game and only rarely made it into the penalty area of the sports club.

Until the 25th minute and a very typical Thomas Müller situation.

After a nice side shift of Hummels, Müller stood at the right pentagon and tried to pass the ball to Lewandowski directly in the center. However, the ball bounced off the heel of the Freiburg defender Söyüncü. Naturally, Müller is the first to react and snatch the ball into the middle again. He surprises the goalkeeper Schwolow, where the ball rolls into the goal from his thigh.

Image: Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images

One goal can be used as a can opener for an entire game. With a remarkable long-range goal by Tolisso and a goal by Wagner following Müller’s example, the Reds increased the score to 3:0 and took the game out of Breisgau’s reach.

However, the final moment is once again reserved for our Player of the Month. Wily Müller again changes gears the fastest and dismantles Gulde on a Kimmich corner. The right-back quickly runs out on his national team mate, who is able to finish at close range.

Successful Raumdeuter against Dortmund

What distinguishes Müller just as much as his roguish mentality is his excellent feeling for opening spaces. He showed this quality once again in the top match between the Munich team and the rival from Dortmund. Even though James had the more conspicuous appearance, it was the old Bavarian who repeatedly exposed the yellow-black defense with unsolvable tasks.

With the ball the following sequence was created again and again in the game. Alaba pushed forward and created a superior number on the left side, which was also supported by James in half space. In addition, Martinez and Hummels pushed forward. While Robben on the right side ensured the necessary width in the game, Müller and Lewandowski provided the variability with their runs.

The two strikers were often able to pull the Dortmund team’s supposed chain of four apart by moving in opposite directions in half space. This in turn made it possible for the other attackers to push forward into the freed spaces.

Of course, the 2010 World Cup top scorer did not miss out on the match sheet against Borussia.

It was his quick switch and the resulting verticality in the Bayern game, which caught Akanji on the wrong foot and sent Lewandowski into a one-on-one with Bürki. Only a short time later, Müller’s successful dribbling against Dahoud and his flat cross in front of the goal allowed Ribéry to score 2-0. However, after James was forwarded, he was offside, which meant that the goal did not count.

When he scored the 3-0, it was again his route that pulled the Ruhr area team’s defense apart. Sokratis had to orientate himself on James with the ball, while Akanji covered Lewandowski and was therefore unable to stop Müller, who was able to sneak away behind him. This resulted in an easy finish.

Right wing in chaos

Finally, a brief look into the future should be taken. Already in April the Champions League quarter-final first leg of the Munich team was in Sevilla. There Müller was positioned by Heynckes as a right wing.

In this role, which the 103-times Bundesliga scorer also regularly plays for the national team, Müller was not completely convincing. Although he was accustomed to his performance and did not shy away from traveling long distances, he could not leave his recently regained offensive mark on the match.

On the right wing Müller cannot depend on the good interaction with Lewandowski, on which the Pole is so dependent. In addition, Müller does not fulfil the typical Bayern role of the outside player, as he lacks the necessary speed and dribbling strength. Rather, Müller seems to be almost restricted in his radius of action by the outer line.

For the rest of the season Heynckes will have to deviate from his current favourite team, which usually leaves Robben on the bench and has a strong midfield with Martinez and Vidal, or find some other way to involve the Raumdeuter more effectively in the game on the outside line as well. In the past, Müller has been able to shine here with Tolisso in particular, when the Frenchman has taken over the role on the outside line and the German international has been able to play a more central role.

Football’s latest arms race: the battle for Europe’s best youngsters intensifies | Stephen Ganavas | The Guardian

“Did the traditional German leader disappear with Philipp Lahm?” | Axel Falk | These Football Times

Crunch time is coming for Bayern, and so are better arena seats | Rick Joshua | Bayern Central

Sevilla as good as Real Madrid, Barcelona – Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez | Raphael Honigstein | ESPN

Bayern destroy Dortmund | Austin Reynolds | Spielverlagerung

Bayern Munich bouncing in Bundesliga, but Champions League presents a tougher challenge | Raphael Honigstein | ESPN

Joshua Kimmich: “I want to be me, not a Lahm clone or Lahm the second” | Donald McRae | The Guardian

Bayern Munich in good shape in Sevilla tie despite uneven performance | Raphael Honigstein | ESPN

Borussia Dortmund deserved the Bayern treatment | Travis Timmons | The Short Pass

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