So I know a lot of people talk about how vital both Kroos and Mueller are to FCB. I thought it would be interesting to get an actual 'formalization' of pros and cons of Kroos/Mueller. This is simply my attempt to reconcile/gain opinion on what others think of both players.
1. Robbery play if fit. Schweini plays if fit. That leaves 2 midfield spots open. CAM and DM.
2. For the remaining 2 spots you have 3 major contenders. Mueller, Kroos, Martinez.
3. I'm not including Gustavo and Shaqiri because:
a. Lets be honest, we didn't pay 40 million for Martinez for him not to play. And he's as solid as Gustavo (if not better) defensively and miles ahead offensively. I'd have to think that despite Gustavo's good form, Martinez will be brought into the team ASAP.
b. Shaqiri is a winger/CAM candidate. While he tracks back more than Robben, he's still better when staying up high on the pitch and utilizing his dribbling skills + pace to beat his marker. We're definitely not playing him as DM anytime soon. Kroos is a better playmaker than Shaq and so is Mueller IMO.
4. If we're assuming Martinez comes in asap, then Mueller/Kroos fight for CAM.
Now lets get to a bit of player analysis.
1. Orthodox playmaker. Has a great long shot when he's on target. Most of last season though he was aiming 8 inches higher every time.
2. Good, consistent passing/vision. Always looks to receive a pass from the back and convert it to a chance for Robbery + whoever is playing as striker.
3. Defensively much improved. He's made some good tackles as a DM in this season so far. But he's beaten in that department by Schweini/Marti.
4. Prefers to play centrally. Doesn't make a lot of runs into the box. His tendency is to drift slightly left if anything.
1. Can play either wing + CAM. Links up well playing down the flank with either FB. Tends to drift right as far as I can see.
2. Workhorse. Tracks back quite a lot.
3. He's far better at finishing than Kroos is.
4. His real skills lie not in his vast technical ability (which I actually think isn't that great) but in being a very intelligent player who moves around and makes timely runs to open up spaces. He gets into the penalty box and makes a nuisance of himself for the central defenders.
FCB play (like everyone else so it seems) a 4-2-3-1. Previously we had Gomez as the striker. Everyone knows Gomez is your classical poacher and is not very skilled technically. Gomez doesn't trouble world class defenders if he's isolated from the team because he never drops into midfield or shifts to the flanks. It is relatively easy to mark Gomez. Then why is he so successful?
The answer lies in the 3 who play behind Gomez. Robben drifts in from the right. Ribery can either hug the touchline or drift in. Mueller drifts all over the final third. This cascades into opposing defenders being consistently pulled out of position and 'forgetting' that Gomez is lurking around the box. And that's when Gomez scores. Again and again.
This is not to say that Kroos isn't mobile. The problem lies in the fact that Kroos is not as mobile as Mueller. He doesn't really run into the box. He plays more like a #10 than a false nine. He makes that incisive pass which usually finds a teammate and then...stops. He doesn't run into the box and doesn't pull defenders out.
So, its quite obvious. Play Mueller over Kroos.
No, not really.
We now have this new striker called Mandzukic. This guy is not a poacher. He's almost Villa like in his playstyle. He drops into midfield so many times that I've stopped looking for him up top. He's a decent passer and holds up paly excellently. But, this is great! He can link up with Robbery+Mueller!!
Well...think about it. With all of the top 4 running around like that and Schweini+Martinez pulling strings from deep we should be set. However, in this setup I honestly believe a player like Kroos would be great. He's got great passing (better than Mueller) and spots teammates runs better. So with Mandzukic dropping into midfield his markers are going to be a bit confused. Robbery now easily run into the box and bury that Kroos through ball.
Another thing to point out is that Schweini likes to get forward. However, Mueller is not as defensively sound as Kroos. With Kroos playing in the hole, Schweini (atleast I would imagine) would be far more at ease getting forward playing a 1-2 with Kroos and swapping roles.
So the opposing defense, either worries about Mandy+Robbery moving around or they worry about the fact that Schweini+Kroos are stepping forward. And I've heard both of them can hit that ball pretty hard.
At the end though, I'm still not convinced enough to say for certain, "Mueller/Kroos plays and Kroos/Mueller is a benchwarmer." They both are vastly talented (albeit with very different styles for similar positions) and both are still to hit their peak. This is a lovely problem to have as a coach (esp. after last season) but if you were JH who would you play/drop? Why?