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Still loose on the bench



Still loose on the bench

As expected, Thomas Müller was initially only on the bench when FC Bayern Munich started the second half of the season in Leipzig (1-1) – but the sequence of changes made by coach Julian Nagelsmann was somewhat surprising. Müller himself is initially easy with the difficult situation.

Thomas Müller obviously had a great need to communicate: while his colleagues made their way to the dressing room after the 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig, the 33-year-old, unusually, strolled in his playing clothes to the waiting journalists in the mixed zone. He’ll come by later, I promise, he first assured him – only to quickly change his mind: “Oh, let’s do it right away.”

As expected, Müller initially only sat on the bench at the start of the second half of the season against RB Leipzig. Coach Julian Nagelsmann’s decision was understandable: up front he relied on Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who had scored a remarkable series of goals before the winter break. Jamal Musiala played on the ten, whose use is without alternative due to his fabulous development. Consequently: No place for Müller.

How did he find that? “You’re always ready. You’re ready for anything,” said Müller casually, smiling his mischievous Müller smile. “The most important thing is that we win as a team.” However, FC Bayern did not win in Leipzig, instead their colleagues showed a rather mixed performance in the draw.

Müller did not express any criticism of his bank position. “Everyone has to submit to the team – the same applies to me. Nevertheless, I’m eager to collect minutes.” Probably no FC Bayern player has collected as many minutes as Müller in the past 15 years. “Müller always plays,” Louis van Gaal once said. When that no longer applied under Carlo Ancelotti or Niko Kovac, the coaches were soon gone and Müller played again.

FC Bayern: Nagelsmann and Müller emphasize good exchange

Of course, Julian Nagelsmann also knows these stories: Müller is not only a footballer in Munich, he is a figure of identification for the fans and generally has a high status within the club. Asked about Müller’s current role and his probable bank position in Leipzig, the practiced talker Nagelsmann gave a detailed answer even by his standards at the press conference before the game. He talked about Müller for almost two minutes.

Nagelsmann recalled the phase before the World Cup when Müller was absent for weeks due to various injuries, while Choupo-Moting and Musiala shone. “Thomas is intelligent enough to understand that,” said his coach, but also emphasized: “He’s still an extremely important player for me. We talk a lot about substantive things. As far as he is concerned, but also as far as they are concerned affects the entire team.”

Nagelsmann “did not lie” with these statements, emphasized Müller in Leipzig. “I’m in good contact with the coach. We’re both very communicative, as you’ve noticed. We talk to each other very openly. We’re both interested in FC Bayern winning as many titles as possible. We’re both trying to do that use to be more successful.”

FC Bayern: Nagelsmann surprises with change sequence

The benefit Müller can have for FC Bayern was particularly evident in Leipzig in the game against the ball: in pressing, unlike before the winter break, he was quite obviously missing as a spokesman and tireless runner. Leipzig regularly overplayed the first Munich row too easily. But FC Bayern’s offensive department was largely disappointing even when they had the ball in their own possession, as evidenced by the xG value of just 0.69.

Nevertheless, Nagelsmann Müller only came on in the 83rd minute, the sequence of changes was a bit surprising. When the coach reacted for the first time in the 68th minute and took down the exceptionally disappointing Musiala, his nominal substitute Müller did not come. Instead, Nagelsmann brought Kingsley Coman, after which Leroy Sané moved up to tenth position. Müller only came 15 minutes later for Serge Gnabry – and thus to his 424th Bundesliga appearance, drawing level with club legend Franz Beckenbauer.

Thomas Müller: Appearances on the eight are also conceivable

What’s next for Müller? “We have a strong team. Thomas knows the situation,” said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic succinctly. Choupo-Moting continued his goal streak from the first half of the season and thus cemented his regular place. Difference player Musiala should continue to be set in important games for the time being, despite his pale appearance in Leipzig.

Due to the tight schedule, however, Müller will certainly also be in the starting eleven – possibly on Tuesday in the home game against 1. FC Köln. It would also be conceivable for Müller to play on the eight in the future, Nagelsmann at least explicitly mentioned this option in his speech before the game.

Leon Goretzka showed an average performance there in Leipzig, but Ryan Gravenberch and Marcel Sabitzer are also hoping to play. “Don’t worry,” said Nagelsmann anyway. “Thomas will continue to play a key role for Bayern Munich.”