Thomas Müller is an interesting one. His best form at the end of the season – admittedly with the league in the bag – came in the many endorsement adverts he and his team-mates starred in. He was rotated by Pep Guardiola as the Spaniard tried to emulate Jupp Heynckes brilliant feat of winning the treble. He still weighed in with goals, particularly in the Champions League, but he hardly stood out in a team of superstars, and his name is one at the top of many lists for the exit door. The World Cup, however, is different. Müller’s hat-trick was clinical and impressive. His desire to make his second goal was exemplary and his personal mission to maintain his Golden Boot from 2010 is up-and-running. However, Müller is lucky that his popularity is high, or at least higher than Pepe’s (whose is slightly lower than the Bubonic Plague) because his play-acting to get the Real Madrid man sent off left a sour taste, to say the least.
The Bundesliga calls Mats Hummels ‘Mr Indispensible’. It’s no surprise that Borussia Dortmund were much poorer for his absence in 2013/14 and his limping off in the win yesterday could prove to be crucial for Joachim Low’s men. Yes, there is flexibility. Philipp Lahm can come back into right back, meaning Schalke’s Bendickt Howedes can slot inside along Arsenal’s BFG Per Mertesacker if needed. But Hummels is starting to develop a bit of mystique about him. He actually missed around two-thirds of BVB’s season, yet was still outstanding enough in each game to really leave an impression. So, arguably, despite having options, including moving Jerome Boateng to central defence and give another Dortmunder – Erik Durm – a chance at left-back, Hummels would still be a huge miss if he fails to shrug off the injury that forced him off.
Germany have this in spades and spades. That is obvious. When superstars such as Bastian Schweinsteiger are being left on the bench yet still get up and celebrate hard when the team scores, you know it’s looking ok. You only need to see the behind the scenes stuff to know this German team feel together. If you recall, Joachim Low had a purpose-built base for the Germans to feel completely at home, and that helps too. There is watching area where the team gather to sleep or take in the games from other groups. The atmosphere in the camp looks good, and this is clear on the pitch too. The build-up to the World Cup was stuttered – the poor performances of the A and B teams, particularly Arsenal’s Mezut Ozil, saw the home crowds boo their men off. Added to the almost mentally damaging loss of the brilliantly in-form Marco Reus, the Germans could be forgiven for being all over the show. But they’re not, and if they’re in the same ruthless form, Ghana and USA are staring down the barrel.
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