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Müller fan Maradona

Chorus of praise for Thomas’s triple strike

Neymar, Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Karim Benzema showed the way, but Thomas Müller went one better. The Golden Boot winner at the last World Cup shot to the top of the goalscorers' list with his hat-trick on Monday night. “I've not done badly at World Cups up to now. But I don't expect to score another three goals in the next game,” Thomas said after Germany’s impressive 4-0 win against Portugal. “I'll still give it a go of course,” he grinned.

Typical Müller. The FCB striker, who agreed a contract extension at FC Bayern to 2019 just before the World Cup, is never lost for words. But it's a big mistake not to take him seriously on the pitch as he proved once again at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. In his 50th full international appearance for Germany the 24-year-old not only scored a first penalty for his country but also netted his first hat-trick. He received a standing ovation when he was substituted on 82 minutes. His Man of the Match award was a mere formality.

“Very, very good,” declared Joachim Löw in his assessment of the display by the FCB striker who again and again surprises the Germany coach: “Thomas has a very unorthodox style of playing. Sometimes you don't even know where he's going as a coach. He only has one thought in his head and that's how to score his next goal. He goes to the near post and finishes when nobody's expecting it and he's somehow always available in the box. He always capable of scoring and he has great awareness.“

'A tricky player'

Müller scored his first goal against Portugal from the penalty spot, the second with his left foot from 12 yards out and finally he was in the right spot to slot the ball home to score his third and make it 4-0 for Germany – that takes Müller's World Cup tally to eight from seven games. He has now pulled level with Rudi Völler on the roster of Germany's top scorers at the finals. Uwe Seeler and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (9 each) are now in his sights.

“He's got the right instinct and also determination and desire in front of goal,” said Manuel Neuer when asked about his team-mate, “he's a really tricky player – that's well known and we value that in him.” Jérôme Boateng, who said Müller's performance was “simply world class,” has another explanation his fellow Bayern player’s superb tally: “It's difficult for opponents to get hold of him as he's so thin. You don't realise how strong he is.”

Müller certainly put in another decent shift on his skinny legs against Portugal. “He has a lot of runs up front that cause a huge amount of confusion in opposition defences. He opens up gaps for players like Götze or Özil to put the ball through to him,” said Löw, singing the hitman’s praises. Always on the move, impossible to pin down and always capable of scoring a goal - Diego Armando Maradona hit the nail on the head after the Portugal game: “He's no muscleman but put in a strong performance today.”