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Echoes of the past

Müller & Badstuber tread familiar ground

Thomas Müller has the look of a man who came off second best in a bar brawl, but a day after picking up a raft of facial injuries in a fall from a mountain bike, the player was back to his cheery best. “I’m feeling great here,” the 20-year-old said on Thursday at Germany’s South Tyrol training base. Müller was able to train as normal during the day. “It's nothing, fortunately. I’ve had a fright, but nothing worse.”

Müller would justifiably be frightened, but in a positive way, by what he has achieved in his first season as a pro. He missed just one of Bayern’s 53 games (due to suspension), finished top of the club scorer points list (19 goals, 16 assists), and has a good chance of appearing at the World Cup in South Africa. “I’m just thinking back to where I was a year ago, and now look at me sitting here,” he mused at a news conference, “it’s an incredible development.”

Role models Lahm and Schweinsteiger

Naturally, the same applies to Holger Badstuber, another rookie pro. Badstuber missed only four games, performing with credit both at centre-half and in the unfamiliar left-back position. Müller earned a first full cap against Argentina in March, but Badstuber trained with the senior squad for the first time on Thursday. “What’s happened to us hasn’t quite sunk in,” said the 21-year-old, “but we’re happy just to go with it.”

Müller and Badstuber’s situation is reminiscent of two other Bayern stars who are now fixtures for Germany. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm went through the same process six years ago. After their first full season as pros - Lahm was out on loan to VfB Stuttgart – both were named in Germany’s EURO 2004 squad. Schweinsteiger was uncapped, Lahm had earned a first cap in February. Coincidentally, in the build-up to the tournament, Schweinsteiger faced the same opponents Badstuber is likely to take on this Saturday, namely Hungary.

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