Müller interview: 'We want to crown an outstanding year'
Thomas Müller and his teammates have a very special week ahead of them. After the Bundesliga match at Hertha BSC on Friday evening, the record champions will travel to the FIFA Club World Cup, where they're in the semi-finals on Monday. With four straight wins in the Bundesliga, the men from Munich have shown themselves to be well prepared for the tournament - and, with four goals and an assist, the 31-year-old has played a decisive role in that. In an interview with fcbayern.com, the born-and-bred Bavarian looks ahead to the forthcoming challenges and explains how important the upcoming tournament is for him.
Thomas Müller - The interview
Former and new head coach Pál Dárdai will celebrate his home comeback at Hertha BSC on Friday evening. Does the change of coach make the upcoming opponents a little more unpredictable?
Müller: "Definitely. We've only had one game to analyse what they've changed and how they want to do things differently compared to the period under Bruno Labbadia. That makes the analysis a bit more difficult. Nevertheless, of course we try to prepare mainly for our game, to work through our to-do list, how we want to approach the game."
Your World Cup-winning teammate Sami Khedira has just moved to Hertha - are you looking forward to the reunion and does it also show the importance of the Bundesliga when acclaimed players like that return?
"I'm happy that Sami's back. He's a child of the Bundesliga, he grew up here, he won the league here with Stuttgart at a very young age and he earned his spurs. It was great for German football that he then moved abroad and played for top clubs like Real Madrid and Juventus. That also shows the quality of German players over the last 10 or 15 years, that they were in demand abroad again. I'm curious to see how things will go for him after his return, but of course I'm hoping it won't end well for him on Friday evening (laughs)."
In the first half of the season, you won 4-3 against Hertha in almost the last second, and before that the matches were also usually tight affairs. What kind of game are you expecting now?
"Normally, the games in Berlin are always on a bit of a knife edge. Hertha are certainly not where they want to be in the table. There's a lot of pressure on Berlin in the current situation. Of course, we want to take advantage of that, and maybe they'll start feeling a bit nervous if things aren't going well for them and we can perhaps get the first goal. We hope that'll be an advantage for us. But basically I expect a Berlin team who are up for a fight."
For the first time in five years, you have a double-figure goal tally in the Bundesliga - and that's after just 19 matchdays! What do you think you can still achieve?
"I don't think I'll get into triple figures - that might be difficult (laughs). But of course I'm still trying to add to that tally in every game. Where I end up purely in terms of goals scored isn't so crucial. But of course it's fun when you're able to directly contribute to the team's success, and I'll certainly keep at it."
As far as assists are concerned, you've been a reliable provider for years. Do you feel the same sense of joy when you set up a goal as when you score it yourself?
"It always depends on how you set up a goal or how you score it. Personally speaking, I feel a different sense of joy when I only have to poke the ball over the line from a metre out than if it was a really great strike. For example, the run-up to the opening goal against Freiburg last time, that was really well played out. You're almost as happy as if you'd scored the goal yourself. But you also mustn't forget: in the last year, since we've been playing games behind closed doors, you certainly have to deduct a few percentage points from this sense of joy when you score a goal."
After the game against Hertha, you're off to the Club World Cup. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently revealed that the players' council had asked him to get involved to ensure the tournament went ahead despite the congested fixture list. How important is it to you?
"The tournament is an opportunity for us to wrap up this huge run of success we had with the Champions League win last summer. We want to crown this outstanding year by winning the Club World Cup, so we're very ambitious concerning this trophy. This tournament brings together the best teams from each continental association. As a European team, we are certainly favourites. We want to underline that and win the trophy as well, but it'll certainly be a challenge."
You already won the Club World Cup in 2013. What are your memories of the tournament back then?
"It was a wonderful time just before Christmas in Marrakech and also a really great event with the spectators there. The people in Morocco had really been looking forward to the tournament. Now, of course, the conditions are a bit different due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament has been squeezed into this tightly packed fixture list. But we have a super squad who can cope with that."
In the reverse fixture against Hertha (4-3), Robert Lewandowski was the match-winner with a four-goal haul: