Football Features

De Bruyne record in sight? Thomas Muller showcases all-round brilliance as Bayern Munich thrash Frankfurt in seven-goal game

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:30, 23 May 2020

Bayern Munich survived a mini scare to run out 5-2 winners against struggling Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga.

Hans-Dieter Flick’s raced into an seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead before the visitors struck twice within a three minute spell. A capitulation then became a possibility, but the German champions showed they are made of the right stuff, which couldn’t be perfectly timed considering their visit to title rivals Borussia Dortmund in a few days time.

No one typified Bayern’s resolve and endeavour than fan favourite Thomas Müller.

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It was just several months ago many were contemplating a Bayern Munich side minus the affable but hardworking Müller, who seemed to be on the way out after then-manager Niko Kovac seemingly deemed the German forward surplus to requirements. Being written off is not a newfound experience for the ‘space investigator’, and like he’s done before, Müller has not only reinvented himself but struck back with a vengeance.

This is already proving to be his most prolific season in terms of creativity. Since that humbling 5-1 loss at Frankfurt – which cost Kovac his job – he’s created no fewer than 12 goals across 16 games. Today’s assist for Leon Goretzka to break the deadlock saw his overall tally rise to 17, one more than Jadon Sancho in their personal duel to be crowned this season’s Bundesliga ‘assist king’. He’s now four away from equalling Kevin De Bruyne’s record for most assists in a single campaign with seven games remaining.

As incredible that all sounds, to merely suggest Müller’s role in this Bayern’s side is to solely provide for his teammates would be inaccurate, considering he made his name through goalscoring. The homegrown star is one of six players to register 100+ goals for the Bavarian giants and just before half-time, Müller bagged number 196 (in all competitions) and seventh for the league season. If anything, this performance is just another reminder of his all-roundness, something those around him appreciate greatly. Frankfurt simply couldn’t get a hold of him.

Müller attempted no fewer than 56 passes, more than anyone in Bayern’s forward line, as well as creating two chances – one of which led to a goal. What makes him so good in a modern setting is his innate ability to combine individual skill with stamina. His intelligent movement and spatial awareness in the final third and between the midfield and forward lines brings a new dimension to Bayern’s game. Flick, if anything, has been a catalytic part in the forward’s so-called rebirth, allowing him to once again fully express himself.

The goal he scored, teed-up by the ever-impressive young Canadian full-back Alphonso Davies, could only have been scored by him, as it was such a typical Müller finish. It seemed to have ended the contest, but Frankfurt and their towering Austrian centre-back Martin Hinteregger threatened an incredible comeback after going 3-0 down, with Robert Lewandowski grabbing his 27th before Hinteregger’s quick-fire brace. He was nonetheless powerless to prevent Bayern’s fourth goal, scored by Davies, and the fault ultimately lay at the feet of Gelson Fernandes. Hinteregger did play a significant role in their fifth of the evening, however, an unfortunate own goal to cap off a hat-trick of sorts.

Another defeat, nonetheless, was on the card for the visitors. What a different 12 months makes. A year ago Frankfurt had already played an entertaining Europa League semi-final with Chelsea, one they agonisingly lost on penalties. On the domestic front, they’d finish the Bundesliga season in seventh, which subsequently ensured another season of European football. However, the forthcoming summer was brutal. Manager Adi Hütter would lose Luka Jovic, Sébastien Haller and Ante Rebic, all of whom combined were responsible for 68% of their league goals.

This season has been a struggle. The Eagles sit a few points above the drop zone and have mustered 41 goals to date, one more than the aforementioned trio produced between themselves last term. Very few expected the visitors to leave Bavaria with a point or more and they were certainly overwhelmed. Frankfurt struggled to get their big hitters – André Silva, Mijat Gacinovic and in particular Filip Kostic – into the game.

The same can not be said of Bayern and Müller, who must feel real confident heading into their upcoming clash at the Westfalenstadion knowing a win move them one step closer to an unprecedented eight-peat.

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