Thomas Muller's Goals Prove Decisive in Germany Finishing Top of Group G

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2014

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It was Thomas Muller who once again showed up for Germany on Thursday with a single goal to beat the US 1-0 in the final game of Group G.

The Bayern Munich forward is currently enjoying an exquisite World Cup tournament thus far for Joachim Low's side and now sits atop of the goalscoring charts alongside Brazil's Neymar and Argentina's Lionel Messi.

In a game that offered little ambition from Germany against the stubborn resilience of Jurgen Klinsmann's US defence, Muller proved once again that he is undoubtedly Germany's best player and their most consistent route to success.  

Although Germany had been pipped as comfortable favourites ahead of the game, the US had proved themselves as worthy adversaries against Ghana and Portugal beforehand, and once again made life difficult for their opponents on the soaked Arena Pernambuco pitch in Recife. 

Despite a welcome opening 15 minutes from Germany, which had seen Muller squander numerous chances and even trip over his own teammates en route to goal, the US proved worthy of a solid 0-0 at half-time. As things stood, both sides were going through to the next round with a point apiece. 

Oddly enough it was only once Miroslav Klosethe German target man who has so often proved an alternative to Muller's indirect route to goal for the national teamcame on in the second half that we saw the Bayern forward burst into life. 

Like the multi-purpose, apex forward that he truly is, Muller then moved off from the poacher's role in the US six-yard box and offered more for his team in the pockets of space between the German front line, now occupied by Klose, and the midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm. 

When Mesut Ozil had initially crossed the ball into the US box on the 55th minute, it was Per Mertesacker who knocked the header towards Tim Howard's goal, with Klose, not Muller, waiting at the back post for a simple tap in.

The Bayern star had naturally floated out towards the corner of the box where he received the rebound and happily curled the only goal of the game into the far corner from 25 yards out. 


As we can see from the graphic above, which displays Muller's passing throughout the match, the Bayern forward clearly benefited from being released of his responsibilities in the US box. With a little more space, he was able to cut back and move out to his favourite right hand side and create chances from there. 

This pattern of play isn't too dissimilar from how Muller played against Portugal—where he picked up his other three goals—despite scoring each goal in the Portuguese six-yard box on the day. 

Where the US defence had packed their own box and forced Muller to score from outside that area of the pitch, the Portugal back line was far more porous and allowed more than enough space for the Bayern forward to strike. 

What Muller essentially offers the German front line is all the benefits of a target man in the box, while also playing as a savvy attacking midfielder on the edge of the opponent's area.

As we can see from the diagram below, Muller comes short to receive passes and create plays with the likes of Ozil and Kroos but then very quickly makes his way into the box where he is often found at the front or back post ready to tap home. 

Stefan Bienkowski B/R

What we have here is the movement that we often see from Germany's star forward. With the red arrows indicating player movements and the yellow arrows showing which direction the ball would go, we can see that Muller regularly comes short for the ball only to spin and move back into the US goalmouth awaiting the final pass of the play. 

If it sounds like some baffling American football play then that's because this is essentially what it is. Muller, playing like something of a wide receiver, tends to come deep not only to actually receive the ball but to also spin and open up gaps for him to attack.

It's a style of football that has seen the forward reach unparalleled success at Bayern and for Die Mannschaft and could now see him move one step closer to German history.

With Thursday's goal against the US, Muller now has nine World Cup goals to his name, with only four Germans managing to score more in the competition than this special 24-year-old star. 

Germany now go on to the first knockout rounds of the World Cup, where they will face the runners-up of Group H next Friday. There, Germany and Low will once again prepare for further success in the hope of progressing further in the competition, with Muller leading the line.

For if this striker can continue playing the way he has of late, then there's no team in this tournament Germany can't beat.