Germany’s Mueller back to his old self
After an underwhelming start to Euro 2016, Germany’s Thomas Mueller bounced back to his commanding self in the 1-0 win against Northern Ireland that sent the world champions into the knockout round.
The Bayern Munich striker set up Mario Gomez for Germany’s opening goal and hit the woodwork twice in the first half — and it was remarkable that Germany failed to turn their domination into more goals against limited opponents.
Mueller and the 2014 World Cup winners laboured to beat a poor Ukraine side 2-0 in their opening match and then failed to score in a stalemate against Poland that drew criticism at home.
But the gangly striker was at the heart of Germany’s improved performance at a Parc des Princes awash in Northern Irish green as he slipped passes to Gomez and Mesut Ozil or headed just over the bar.
Mueller had shown irritation with the always demanding German press ahead of the game.
“You have rarely been impressed with our results -– apart from the 7-1 against Brazil (at the World Cup),” he snapped.
“We expect a good performance, but we can’t guarantee the result.
“It’s without question that we’re favourites against Northern Ireland, I would take a tough win and tolerate what’s been written (about us).”
While the Germans were still far from their sparkling form in Brazil, their domination on Tuesday put rivals Spain, Italy and France on notice that they mean business.
Germany now move north to Lille where on Sunday they will take on the third-placed team from either Group A — Albania — or B — Slovakia — or Portugal’s yet-to-be-completed Group F.
Mueller will be happy to hear that UEFA has ordered the pitch in Lille to be relaid after a barrage of complaints about the dried-out surface.
But from the way he was roaring at and cajoling teammates in Paris, the pitch will be the least of Germany’s opponents’ worries — it looks as if Die Mannschaft are just revving up.