Thomas Muller was re-inserted into Bayern Munich’s starting eleven for their comprehensive 5-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach at Borussia Park, thanks in part to the handful of injuries currently hampering Bayern’s attack. He scored Bayern’s second goal of the match in the 11th minute and put in an all-around strong performance before being subbed off in the 86th minute for Woo-yeong Jeong, who make his Bundesliga debut.
Prior to the ‘Gladbach match, Muller had been benched by Niko Kovac for four consecutive league matches. After the victory, Muller expressed his delight to be back in the firing line for Bayern and was pleased to let his performance spoke for itself (Bild):
I think I also came on just fine the last few times. But then it was more almost as a defender, because we were always leading. Of course, you always want to present yourself and show the coach and the people outside that you belong in the starting lineup.
During the stretch of matches that Muller hadn’t started, Robert Lewandowski had called for Kovac and his coaching staff to reconsider, suggesting that he and the rest of the team create more chances when Muller is on the pitch. Against ‘Gladbach, Muller and Lewandowski linked up extremely well; even after having scored a brace, Lewandowski really should’ve scored more than twice. After the match, Muller recognized how well he had combined with the Polish ace through the proceedings:
I know the team in and out and am happy that the collaboration worked so well. I get on with Lewa up front really well, too.
We noticed the duo’s cohesion and understanding during the match right from the start (spoiler: there were a lot of chances):
Lewandowski’s call for Muller to play more has plenty of merit, too. Incredibly, Bayern has never lost a match in which Müller has scored (AZ). In all 85 league matches that Muller has scored in, Bayern has won 80 and drawn the other 5. Jupp Heynckes once described Muller as having an “effervescence” about him when he plays behind Lewandowski, using his spatial awareness to create space for his teammates.
Ironically enough, we did a piece around this time (end of February) last year examining Müller’s effectiveness and found that Bayern were scoring 2.76 goals per match when he was on the pitch vs. 1.76 goals when he was not. Additionally, at the time, Lewandowski was scoring at least 0.84 goals per match when Muller was on the pitch with him. Case in point: perhaps Kovac should consider playing Muller more during this crucial stretch leading into the season’s second installment of der Klasiker that could well and truly decide who wins the league.