Thomas Mueller vs. Jamal Musiala: A fight that could destroy Bayern Munich

Let me start with some facts. The first – Jamal Musiala, a generational talent. two – Bayern Munich Thomas Müller needs to play at his best. Both things can be true at the same time.

Somehow, these two players are pitted against each other in a vicious storyline that threatens to derail the entire season. Much of the Bayern Munich fanbase has convinced itself that Thomas Müller should “step down” and give Jamal Musiala the starting point. Unfortunately, based on what we saw against RB Leipzig on Friday, Julian Nagelsmann appears to agree.

Guess how that ended? Here is a summary.

Warning signs

Jamal Musiala is an incredible talent. Honestly, he might be Bayern Munich’s best player this season. However, this does not mean that he can do everything on his own. Against Leipzig, the 19-year-old was a shadow on the perimeter of the play, unable to influence the match at all.

Leipzig - Bayern Munich - Bundesliga

Musiala was surrounded by at least two players at all times.
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Penetrated in the attacking midfield position behind Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Musiala found it difficult. Marco Rose’s set-up gave him no room to dribble, while intense pressure from the RBL midfielders cut off the passing channels. He was effectively isolated from players like Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, who could have acted as an outlet.

This was probably Musiala’s worst match this season so far, and it was due to a tactical mismatch. The kid was begging someone to get rid of that heat, so he could find space to do what he does best. It just didn’t happen. Thanks to this, Bayern posted a tepid attacking performance, drawing 1-1.

Do you see where I’m going with this? That match against Leipzig was missing a key element – someone to open up. An alien translator, if you will. Bayern had a spare, but he didn’t come in until the 83rd minute. What a waste.

canary

If you can’t include Thomas Muller in your squad, you’re doing something wrong. The coaches who have kept him out – Carlo Ancelotti and Niko Kovac – are rightfully recognized as Bayern’s worst coaches of the past decade.

Simply put, the coaches who were on the bench Thomas Müller were fired. Julian Nagelsmann is now making the same mistake. It’s not as if Ancelotti and Kovac didn’t have the talent or depth of squad to replace Mueller – they did. Bayern Munich have battled a wide range of potential “replacements” for Müller in the past 10 years. Thiago Alcantara, Mario Gotze, James Rodriguez, Philippe Coutinho, and now Jamal Musiala have all been dubbed “Mueller’s replacements” at one point or another. However, Thomas Müller is still here.

Pep made Tiago and Muller work together. Jupp made a successful line-up with both James and Müller. Flick… Well, he just sent Coutinho off. Successful coaches never give up Space translator. They recognized the intangibles he brings to the game, especially his ability to organize offense, create space and lead the press from the front. Those who ignored this experienced a significant drop in performance, and were inevitably fired.

Thomas Müller is the proverbial coal miner. Failure to include it is a sure sign of a tactically compromised regime.

Now, Nagelsmann’s point of view is easy to understand. Jamal Musiala is the first player in ten years to have a legitimate opportunity to usurp Müller from his post. Yes it is that Hassan. However, this really makes him a suitable successor to Mueller, Not alternative. While the two are still at the club together, they can be made to get along. This is where the coach goes wrong. This is where it went wrong against Leipzig.

make it work

Nagelsmann has a template ready to put Muller and Musiala together on the pitch. Musiala is really a great suite. This is where Bayern Munich got his break, after all. Just play him wide, preferably on the left, as he has great chemistry with Alphonso Davies. Let the magic happen.

In fact, against Leipzig we have often seen the midfield so crowded that Musiala automatically drifts into a wing role just to get some space. But the matter did not last, as it left a gap in the offensive midfield, which he had to return to fill. Imagine if he didn’t have to concede like that? How much better will Bayern be?

Heck, we don’t need to fantasize. Müller and Musiala have played productive matches with each other several times over the past two seasons. The idea that they can’t get along or even complement each other is just ridiculous. Only the stubbornness of the coach prevents them from doing it again.

conclusion

It’s crazy how we are in 2023 and the Mueller debate remains a biannual event. How many times does this guy need to prove himself? Yes, he was bad at the World Cup, and so did all of Germany (except Musiala). On this basis, Kimmich and Goretzka will probably lose their positions to Sabitzer and Gravenberch. However, this is not the discussion we are having.

Honestly, it’s annoying to have to point this out every few years. This article is not a quick response to the Leipzig game, since that exact point was raised in the podcast episode recorded last Sunday. You can check for yourself below or on Spotify. Thread starts at 23:50 if you need a timestamp.

Thomas Müller and Jamal Musiala need to play together for the good of Bayern Munich. That’s all that needs to be said.

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