During the German national team’s media day at their training camp in Eppan, South Tyrol, Thomas Müller has been answering questions from dozens of journalists. DFB.de was there to jot down his responses.
Question : Herr Müller, does what happened in Klagenfurt worry you at all?
Thomas Müller: We tested out a lot of things against Austria and we made several changes during the game. You ought to remember that we’ve only trained together once this year, for ten days in March, where we had a really good match against Spain. Therefore we are preparing for the weeks ahead with a lot of confidence. Of course we want to leave our mark in Frankfurt on Friday. The belief in our ability is absolutely unaffected. I’m not one to read too much into the results of friendlies. Only the important games really matter.
Q: Do the World Champions of 2014 have a reputation to live up to?
Müller: If you look at the squad, the way we’re training and consider the fact that we have two first-team players for almost every position, then things are looking very positive indeed. We also have several Confederations Cup winners in the squad. So in short, we’re not performance-orientated, rather results-orientated. When you win the Confederations Cup, we get glowing reports. When you lose a friendly, you’re hounded. Those who work in football understand that there’s a huge difference between them.
Q: Is the squad better than in 2014?
Müller: Individually, without a doubt. But football has developed considerably. Other countries have also come on leaps and bounds and their players have become much more technically refined. Comparing different generations doesn’t often get you anywhere. You simply have to keep up with the development of the sport and in that sense, we’re ready.
Q: You sound quite optimistic…
Müller: There’s just no reason to sing the blues. We’re World Champions. We have several players at the peak of their powers. We’re looking forward to the tournament. I can’t wait. The first group game is always a nerve-jangling, pivotal point.
Q: Eight years ago you prepared for the World Cup here in the same hotel in South Tyrol. Back then you were a little whippersnapper. What’s your duty, now you’re an established top-player? Are you on a par with the younger players or do you give them a good seeing-to now and again…?
Müller: What? (laughs)
Q: Verbally, I mean.a
Müller: Ah right. I was going to say that that doesn’t paint me in the best light. Most of them would also put me to bed if I did (laughs). No, seriously, German football has come a long way since 2010. Not only given the success in 2014, but in the way we play our football. We love to be on the ball. Not to say that I don’t admire the old playing style. I personally look for the most direct way of scoring a goal. Whilst, launching the ball into row Z is still an effective tactic at the right time. I don’t want to lose virtuously. But nevertheless, we have become a team who looks to stay on the ball, who plays a short-passing game with a lot of movement in spaces in the middle of the park. My personal role is not much different from that in 2014 in Brazil. At my first tournament in 2010, however, where I was the new kid on the block, I just tried to do my job. Today, given my experience, I try to influence the other players positively, to have the big picture in mind.
Q: You’re pretty well-known here. You were at the Alpine Skiing World Cup in Alta Badia, you’ve played at a few of the local golf courses. What attracts you to South Tyrol?
Müller: I was in South Tyrol a fair bit during my childhood. I used to ski here too. The nature here is breathtaking and the weather conditions are just ideal. The sun always shines in the morning but burns off before training.
Q: Back to the game against Austria: was it a slight wake-up call?
Müller: For us as a team it wasn’t so bad. We’re in the middle of training. We were positive in the first half with two or three pieces of quick attacking play. I realise that we didn’t play well towards the end of the half. If we were on form, it would have been 2-0 relatively quickly. In the second half there wasn’t much to cheer. We wanted to play out forcefully from the back, although the Austrians were pressing a lot more. We hadn’t played in that formation before, whilst the coach wanted to give a few players the chance to prove themselves. Also there was the late kick-off to deal with. In our mind, friendlies are there to get to team in order, to gain insight with which we can achieve results in the important games.
Q: Is it easier to win the title than to defend it?
Müller: You play the same amount of games. The opponents are no easier. However the level of expectation is different. Also apart from out fans, the rest of the footballing world wants Germany knocked off the throne. Jogi Löw has often said that we’re “the hunted”. A match against the World Champions is always any team’s biggest of the year.
Q: Is defending a title something unique in the career of a footballer?
Müller: Fundamentally, playing in a World Cup is something special in itself. The whole world is watching. You notice the enormous buzz surrounding the tournament. It’s always the childhood dream, and that’s feeling never goes away. We want to leave the pitch as winners. We’ll give it everything and let’s just see what happens.