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Badstuber and Müller

Starlets flourishing at the highest level

“We know more about where we stand after playing such big-name opponents,” said Holger Badstuber in the Allianz Arena mixed zone. “And we’ll carry on from there,” the 20-year-old added. Clearly, by “we”, Badstuber meant the Bayern team as a whole, but had the defender been talking exclusively about himself and Thomas Müller, the statement would have been equally apposite.

The Juventus clash was Badstuber’s second and Müller’s third Champions League outing, and the first against a team acknowledged as belonging to the European elite. The youthful pair settled to the task with startling maturity, each giving a near-flawless display. They too now know a little bit more about where they stand.

Both Badstuber and Müller demonstrated they are not merely capable of holding their own at the highest level of the game, but that a decisive contribution is well within their reach too. Both rate as beginners in the professional game, but both appear comfortably at home in a world inhabited by greats such as RIbéry, Buffon or Camoranesi.

Müller honoured

Both have appeared in all seven Bundesliga fixtures and the two Champions League clashes. Both have proved consistently good. Müller finished top of the prestigious poll conducted by kicker magazine to determine September’s Bundesliga Player of the Month with a whopping 56 percent of the votes, way clear of second placed Jefferson Farfan of Schalke on 21 percent. “I really can’t complain about the way it’s going right now,” the ever level-headed Müller commented.

Uli Hoeneß reckons the shooting star has two outstanding attributes: “He doesn’t hesitate, and he sums up a situation in an instant.” The striker, currently operating more in attacking midfield, already has two goals apiece in the Bundesliga and the Champions League, but his feet are firmly rooted to the ground. “When I consider how few players even make it this far, I do think it’s amazing what’s happened. But I’m getting used to it all after nearly a year in and around the squad."

Badstuber satisfied

Central defender Badstuber is not in the team to score goals but to stop them, which tends to mean that the less he stands out, the more effective his performance. A centre-half under Louis van Gaal is required to play a major role in initiating and sustaining attacking moves. On top of that, the idea is to keep a clean sheet as often as possible against the pick of the strikers in the Bundesliga and Europe. FCB have conceded just three goals in their last seven matches.

“You’ve always got to watch a striker like Trezeguet. He can conjure up a goal out of nothing, but I reckon we did pretty well against him,” Badstuber reflected after the midweek game. Doing pretty well very much applies to him and Müller too.