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Interview: Thomas Müller

‘It’s only fun when you win’

A basketball is bigger and heavier than a football, but the objective of both games is the same: the ball has to go in the net. Toni Kroos, Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Müller gathered in the Performance Center at the Säbener Strasse after Thursday training to try their hand at basketball, albeit on the Playstation. Müller, Bayern’s current top scorer in the Bundesliga, managed two wins and one defeat on the console before sitting down with for an exclusive interview – focused on football, of course. Thomas, how did you do on the Playstation?
Thomas Müller: I won twice and lost once. Pretty good I think.

In the Bundesliga you’ve not lost any of your last 43 matches. How was the mood in the bus on the way home from the last-gasp victory in Stuttgart?
It wasn’t like we were dancing in the aisles. But we were certainly relaxed and happy. We sat down and enjoyed ourselves with a game of cards. I felt my eyelids getting heavy at about 1 am. But fortunately I can play [traditional Bavarian card game] Schafkopf even when I’m half asleep.

Thiago scored his first Bundesliga goal…
His first, really? It somehow feels like he has a couple more. OK, it was a really good one too. He’s a cracking player, and a great guy as well, totally positive. He fits perfectly in our team.

Why did Bayern improve in Stuttgart after the introduction of Claudio Pizarro and Mario Mandzukic?
Stuttgart defended very well up to that point, but we had more presence in the box with two strikers. Both teams rather gave up on midfield, and it ended well for us.

You have a 13-point lead in the league, but as the Stuttgart game showed you simply weren’t satisfied with a point. How do you stay hungry?
We’ll never produce our full potential from the first to the last minute in every match, even if we want to. We’re all only human, as we all saw in the first half in Stuttgart. But we’re also capable of turning games around. We picked ourselves up at half-time and went for it. After all, football is only fun when you win.

How important will it be to have key players like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben and Javi Martínez available for the big matches?
Very important. The more options available to the coach, the better. But if everyone’s fit, deciding who starts and who doesn’t obviously won’t be easy.

You lead the scorer points chart at FCB with eight goals and seven assists in the Bundesliga. You’re having a good season...
I’m not dissatisfied. It’s going very well. But we’re yet to win a trophy this season. There are no prizes for topping a list.

What aspects of your game have improved the most in recent years?
You develop personally in every area. Experience makes you better. You know what to do in many more situations. You understand what it takes. And in terms of my physique I’ve added a few kilos of muscle mass. I’m still working on my left foot, on passing and close control. But my feeling is I’m significantly further on compared to four years ago.

You’ve appeared in every Bundesliga match this season. You’ve not been ill nor injured. How do you do it?
I know how to maintain my physical momentum. I look after my body, I take breaks when I need them and I structure my private life so that my body can cope with the stress and strain. Elite athletes can’t go out partying in the middle of the season. And once you’re out on the field you have to get stuck in. Nothing bad happens if you get in properly. These are the things I watch out for, and it’s gone very, very well so far. Obviously the physique given you by nature plays a big role too.

Bayern are at home for the first time this year on Sunday when Eintracht Frankfurt visit Munich…
I’m looking forward to it. It’s always easier on the back of two wins. I hope we maintain our momentum, have a really good game at home and entertain the fans.

How will Eintracht approach the match?
Frankfurt are still in Europe, so that shows what they’re capable of. They’re not going to gift us the points. But provided we’re focused and aggressive there can only be one winner.