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Thomas Mueller: “The defence is the alpha and omega”

UEFA Euro 2016

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Thomas Mueller has not yet scored at the 2016 European Championship. Following the German national team’s 0-0 draw with Poland the FC Bayern Munich attacker faced questions from media representatives. Mueller said the team had prioritised the defence during the goalless draw. But the World champion team was lacking a striker who could assert himself in one-on-one situations.

Thomas Mueller speaks plainly and is not lost for bold statements – both on the pitch and when interviewed. (Photo: Imago)


Mr Mueller, you have achieved a goalless draw with Poland with the German national team. What is your analysis?

“The one point is satisfactory. But in football it is also important what your feeling is at the conclusion of the match. Expectations and result. We had resolved to win. We proved that we have our basis to be successful. We work well together as a team, we pack a wallop.The commitment and the team spirit can be seen and felt with every individual player. But today the ultimate esprit, the vital spark, was simply missing against well defending Poles”.

Which means you are not content with the point?

“Accordingly we are not 100 percent content. We are searching for solutions. Directly after the match that preys on the minds of us offensive players. Of course I‘m not content either. I’m not totally concerned that I haven’t yet scored a goal at this EURO. I’m more bothered that I have failed to acquire a single scoring opportunity during the last two matches. We must work towards ensuring that our paths, our combinations, once again lead to goal scoring opportunities.”

It was tough for you against solidly defending Poles. Do you now have to prepare for a similar game against Northern Ireland?

“Naturally the opponents are not totally uninvolved. But there will be other opponents who are not just specialized in defending and counterattacking. In those matches you will get a bit more space up front. But we still have to be patient for a few more matches and first find solutions against upcoming opponents.”

The Poles, such as Dortmund’s Lukasz Piszczek, defended very well and made life difficult for Thomas Mueller and his offensive colleagues in the DFB team. (Photo: Imago)


Is the team presently thinking very defensively? 

“Of course we are thinking defensively, that’s important. We are working hard, without conceding. If you want to win tournaments, that’s the alpha and omega. And in offence we don’t have the one-on-one player in Germany to crack defensive bulwarks, as we possibly have with FC Bayern. Such a player is lacking.We can’t just conjure him up so that’s why we have to try out new combinations. Against Poland the last pass, the last step, the last attunement was simply missing. The other fact is that Poland defended very well, even at set pieces”.

How can you find these solutions?

“We have to analyse. We must find out what we were lacking, and then improve in the next match. We didn’t take the highest risks against Poland. The ultimate swiftness up front was simply missing.”

Much consultation was needed among Germany’s leading players Sami Khedira, Thomas Mueller, Benedikt Hoewedes and Mats Hummels (from left) during the goalless draw with Poland.(Photo: Imago)

Thomas Mueller, a reliable scorer at the 2010 and 2014 World Cup finals, has not yet scored at EURO 2016, but is confident that he will. (Photo: Imago)


Are you surprised that so few goals have been scored all-round at the European Championship finals?

“You see what’s happening at a European Championship. All teams have physical and tactical capabilities. It’s no longer, as 20 years ago, that smaller countries are far behind in football terms. They now all have coaches who take part in advanced training courses and have an inkling of how to achieve results. It is not a stroll in the park for anyone here. The defensive discipline is higher in Europe than with teams from South America and Africa whom you meet at World Cup finals”.

Is it actually annoying that so many teams stand so deep against you and the German national team?

“You can say that. But it doesn’t help to complain about it. It is obvious that opponents try to achieve a good result. That’s simply their means. Of course we would rather play against teams who also love the passing game”.

Are you personally a bit unlucky at the moment? 

“I don’t know whether I’m unlucky. In principle it is that we as a team fail to achieve sufficient good scoring opportunities, and that’s why I have not had enough possibilities for scoring. If I get an opportunity again I simply have to take it”.