Thomas Müller — The “Raumdeuter”

Not many pundits/analysts seemed to initially grasp the style of Thomas Müller, but since he labelled himself as a “raumdeuter” — which is best translated as ‘space interpreter’, many have begun to understand the complex German’s style of play.

Müller’s game is a mixture of the old and new, a cultured blend of being capable of individual brilliance with intelligent technique, but also epitomising the typical team player many managers crave in today’s game.

Müller isn’t the type of traditional winger we’ve come to know in football, no typical trademark — no blistering pace, no immense dribbling skills to turn defenders dizzy… No emphasis on a typical winger attribute. No, Müller is different to the traditional. He’s the type to drift out of the game, unnoticed, until the right moment, where he makes the diverting run into space to be through on goal and before you know it, he’s in to score or assist.

Müller has played a pivotal part in Bayern winning the Bundesliga this season, with 12 goals scored and 10 assists in 25 appearances and a total of 51 key passes made — 98% of which in the final-third and the majority on his natural right-wing, Müller has become a leading asset in Heynckes’ attacking system.

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The Action Areas graph shows where Müller has been most influential in creating chances this season. Obviously, he’s not free to roam wherever he wants and generally most of them have come from the right-side, but Heynckes does allow him to drift across the pitch to find the space and create the gaps for other players.

As referred to earlier, Müller isn’t generally involved in a game until the right moment — averaging merely one defensive action a game and attempting only 28 tackles over the entire season to date, proving analysis of him as a man who’s always in the right place, at the right time, as he’s always focused on attacking. Although, with players alongside him like Ribery and Schweinsteiger, that happens to be more often than not — amounting a total of 52 (62% accuracy) attempted shots and a sum of 597 successful passes this season.

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Müller’s best performance of the season (143 performance score) was a 5-0 away victory against Düsseldorf, where he bagged two sensational goals and tormented the defence for 90 minutes with diverting runs and his calm ability to pick out the right ball at the right time. He completed 40 passes with a total accuracy of 93% completion. This game really summed up Müller as a ‘raumdeuter’ as he was an engine across the field in all areas — on and off the ball.

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Müller, only 23 has his best years still to come in a side that is progressing to the world’s best. Also, in an era of tactical enhancement and sophisticated preparation having someone like Müller who can interpret space at the best of times can soon prove to be the difference between the best of sides.

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Gene Oliver
Gene Oliver
Freelance football writer/analyst with a distinct affection for teams of passing football. Writer for many blogs and sites since Feb ’13. Arsenal fan and member, regular game attendant. Statistical freeloader, tactical virtuoso and an unhealthy obsession for Marco Reus."
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