Julian Nagelsmann is going through a tricky second season at Bayern Munich. Along with inconsistent performances in the Bundesliga, the German coach has to navigate through the outside noise, which gets amplified when he makes unpopular team selection decisions.
Thomas Muller was the topic of debate over the last few days in Germany. The 33-year-old forward started on the bench against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16. Nagelsmann was vindicated with his team selection as Die Roten clinched a 1-0 win in Paris.
After the victory against PSG, Die Roten succumbed to defeat against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga. The game against Gladbach became more challenging once Dayot Upamecano was sent off in the eighth minute. Thomas Muller had to come off early in the game to make way for a defensive substitute to shore up the back four.
Nagelsmann made it clear on Friday that it was a tactical decision, and he has no doubts about Muller’s quality. The German forward remains a vital player for him. Muller returned to the lineup against Union Berlin and delivered an exceptional performance to end the speculation. While talking to the media after the game (via iMiaSanMia), Nagelsmann praised Muller for his technical and leadership quality on the pitch.
"“He had a very good performance. He had chances and could’ve scored, but he made 2 assists and spoke a lot on the pitch. I’ve often said that even when he doesn’t play, he’s an important contact person for me.”“He’s someone who cares about the interests of the team and the club, not just himself. Of course, he wasn’t happy (after the substitution against Gladbach), we spoke and I told him the reasons. He played a top game today.”"
Thomas Muller started in the number ten role against Union Berlin. From minute one, his intensity on and off the ball was spot on. The German forward had a great chance to open the scoring inside five minutes but couldn’t sort his feet to get the shot on target.
The German forward showed great awareness to set up second and third goals for Die Roten. The only thing missing from Muller’s performance was a goal. The 33-year-old forward also had one clear-cut chance in the second half, but he couldn’t keep his shot on target to quadruple Die Roten’s tally.
Muller’s response on the pitch after last week’s setback perfectly sums up Muller as a player. He did his performance do the talking, which will also give Nagelsmann the right selection headache ahead of the Champions League round of 16 game against Paris Saint-Germain.
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Before the game against PSG, Bayern will face VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga. The Bavarian club is currently level on points with Borussia Dortmund in the points table. Every league game is a must-win for Die Roten to make sure they successfully defend the league title.