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Germany coach Hansi Flick’s savvy move to bench Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller

Germany coach Hansi Flick opted to go with Jamal Musiala and Kai Havertz in the Raumdeuter’s favored attacking midfield positions instead against England.

England v Germany: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 3 Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

When Germany Hansi Flick announced his lineup for Monday’s Nations League finale against England, Bayern Munich fans may have breathed a sigh of relief — their captain, 33-year-old veteran Thomas Müller, was left out of the starting XI to be given a rest.

Müller has logged 811 minutes over eleven matches for the Bavarian club this season, good for fourth-most on the club, and there are increasing concerns that fatigue is taking its toll. He logged another 85 minutes in Germany’s 0-1 defeat to Hungary on Friday.

(Yes, Joshua Kimmich is the leader — 938 minutes, or 10.4 90s out of eleven matches. And yes, of course he started against both Hungary and England.)

In this most unusual of seasons, load management may be the key to successful campaigns — and Müller, only recently restored to the national team after enduring an incomprehensible and ultimately temporary exile under previous coach Joachim Löw — may be one of the top candidates for some mandatory downtime in order to keep his mind and his legs fresh.

Still, it was a big move for Flick to go into a banner test for Germany’s World Cup hopes without one of his most trusted lieutenants. Müller is effectively Flick’s right-hand man, the venerated Bavarian veteran and coach on the field that ties it all together.

“Thomas gives so much to the team,” Flick emphasized (via @iMiaSanMia). “It was clear Jamal would start today. Jamal [Musiala] and [Chelsea FC’s Kai Havertz] are great footballers who did well for us. But for me, there’s no question about Thomas Müller at all.”

For one nervy half without their captain and Raumdeuter, Germany failed to get much going against England. But eventually, the firecrackers went off — and Müller got in on the fun as well with a late cameo and an almost hockey assist, teeing up Serge Gnabry’s shot that landed at Havertz’s feet for the 87th minute equalizer.

As usual, in the end, there he was — making an impact without even getting on the scoresheet. In the end, Germany’s World Cup and Bayern’s Bundesliga and Champions League hopes may benefit. Long may the Müller era continue!

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