Thomas Müller is looking to see off the season in style with his fifth DFB-Pokal crown with Bayern München. Then the next mission gets underway as Germany begin their World Cup title-defence in Russia. No one quite thrives at World Cups like the 28-year-old.
It’s no secret that Thomas Müller and the DFB-Pokal are a match made in heaven. His winning record in finals stands at P5 W4 L1. Only one loss but a tough one to take: a hefty 5-2 thrashing by Borussia Dortmund. All in all, it was a period to forget. Bayern also fell short of the mark in the Champions League, losing to Chelsea in the final in their own backyard.
The rest of Muller’s DFB-Pokal finals tell a long story of success. His first year, in which Müller consistently trained with the first team thanks to coach Louis van Gaal, saw Bayern tear apart Werder Bremen 4-0. The lanky forward from Pähl by Lake Ammer celebrated his first double, before travelling as a virtually unknown international to the World Cup in South Africa. He helped Germany finish third and picked up the Golden Boot. His breakthrough to international stardom happened at lightning speed.
The trophy drought of 2012 proved to be the trigger for the treble in 2013, which was perfectly signed off by a 3-2 triumph in the DFB-Pokal final against VfB Stuttgart, in which Müller opened the scoring with a penalty. The 28-year-old’s memories of the occasion are perennial: “That was our last trophy under Jupp Heynckes. The experience was simply unbeatable.”
Then came the two cup successes against Borussia Dortmund. In 2014, in the third minute of injury time at the end of extra-time, Müller was on his last legs yet still managed to produce a stunning solo goal to seal the match 2-0. The second triumph came two years later, after three years under the leadership of exuberant manager Pep Guardiola. Bayern eventually overcame Dortmund on penalties when the match finished goalless after extra time. Müller held his nerve to slot his own, with the shootout ending 4-3 to Bayern.
In the all-time list of top-scorers in the DFB-Pokal, he is already within touching distance of the top 10. However, Müller won’t be catching a certain Bayern legend anytime soon. Gerd Müller, ‘The Nation’s Bomber’, scored an incredible 78 goals in 60 DFB-Pokal appearances.
For Thomas Müller and Bayern, the 2018 final against Frankfurt is a consolation prize after the unlucky Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Real Madrid. Müller, who has taken over as captain due to Manuel Neuer’s season-long injury, is seeking the perfect ending for coach Heynckes. The contest against Eintracht will unquestionably be the 73-year-old’s final game before retirement.
Müller now has seven Bundesliga titles, with four doubles, under his belt. Number five is in sight. “The trip to Berlin is always for everyone at the club,” he says. Bayern take a large number of their staff at Säbener Street to the final in Berlin, it’s a great tradition.
Müller’s hunger for trophies knows no bounds. “The desire is there, but anything can happen in a match. Should I keep waffling on for a bit? Look, in the DFB-Pokal anything is possible,” he grins in that Mülleresque way. He’s had a good year, largely thanks to Heynckes, who has neither doubted him nor his unorthodox style of play. “As captain, Thomas is a role model in terms of his performance and commitment to the club. He is a hugely important part of our system, because he sometimes gets a goal out of nowhere,” the manager explains. “With his energy, his pace and his reactions, he is simply irreplaceable. That’s just Müller. He can do it all!”
He is especially lethal at World Cups. At the finals in South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014, Müller netted an astonishing ten goals in 13 appearances. However, in European Championships his luck has somewhat run out. The German has not managed a single goal in eleven games at the 2012 and 2016 competitions. In total, he has netted 38 times in 90 appearances for his country. During the 1-1 draw with Spain in March, Müller overtook the team coordinator Oliver Bierhoff in the all-time scorers list. He now sits alone in tenth. Much more important than any personal feat, however, is the fact that Germany have not lost a single one of the 28 games in which Müller has scored. So expectations run high for the national team, who kick off their campaign in Russia against Mexico on 17th June. When the World Cup comes around, it’s Müller time!###more###