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Ever-present Müller

Top scorer Thomas polishes personal stats

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Thomas Müller is renowned for his straightforward, direct style. It’s what the striker is like on the pitch, but also off it. Last Wednesday was a case in point, when the 24-year-old pulled no punches in the build-up to the restart fixture away to Borussia Mönchengladbach: “We’re still in a holiday mood, but we have to snap out of it.” The Germany international called for total focus in the first competitive fixture of the New Year. “We have to come off the blocks well and show our rivals they don’t stand a chance right from the start.”

And so it was, as the league leaders deservedly defeated the side in third 2–0 and sent out a clear message of intent in the championship race. Unsurprisingly, Müller was a happy man after the final whistle at Borussia Park. “There was a completely different intensity to our play compared to the Salzburg match. With the benefit of hindsight we can say it was a good thing to wake us up from the Christmas lethargy which got to us a little bit. It showed us the approach you have to take if you intend to win matches in professional football.“

Müller scores, FCB don’t lose

Müller made a sterling contribution to Bayern’s 42nd consecutive league match without defeat. Alongside Manuel Neuer and Toni Kroos he is the only player to appear in all 17 league fixtures of 2013/14 so far. He provided a textbook assist for Mario Götze’s seventh-minute opener, and completed the scoring himself from the penalty spot early in the second half. Thomas gave his already superb personal Bundesliga stats another quick polish: the 44 matches featuring a Müller goal have ended in 41 wins and three draws.

“Naturally we always expect to play a great game, but the ball was in our court after the friendlies where we didn’t give a particularly fresh or serious impression. Today we showed the character we need to compete in the Bundesliga,” commented Müller. Friday’s strike was his eighth goal of the season, including seven in the last nine league fixtures. He also moved onto seven assists for a total of 15 scorer points this term, drawing level in the league ranking with Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski.

Top scorer and provider

In all competitions this season Müller is Bayern’s top scorer on 17 goals and best provider with nine assists. He has scored six and laid on six goals in the last nine matches. “I’m delighted the team took on board what we need, namely the necessary aggression. We can always play good football, but you have to have fighting spirit too,” Müller summarised.

Those twin qualities will again be required in Wednesday’s rearranged fixture away to VfB Stuttgart. Victory in the clash of the southern rivals would see FCB further stretch their comfortable lead at the top of the standings. Ever-present Müller will of course be determined to contribute to another successful outcome, in his trademark straightforward and direct fashion.