EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France (AP) Thomas Mueller has yet to click at the European Championship and Germany looks far from convincing as it waits for the gangly forward to rediscover his form.
Mueller’s five goals helped Germany win the World Cup two years ago, and he also contributed five in the 2010 World Cup.
But the wait continues for his first goal after seven games over two European Championships.
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“I hope I can score a goal, but as I said already before the tournament, it’s not my main thing,” Mueller said Sunday, ahead of Germany’s last Group C game against Northern Ireland at Parc des Princes in Paris on Tuesday.
“I hope we deliver a good game and that we’ll win.”
Mueller arrived in France after his best season yet for Bayern Munich. The 26-year-old scored 32 goals and set up 12 more across all competitions as Bayern ended with the Bundesliga and German Cup double.
In qualifying for Euro 2016, Mueller scored nine of Germany’s 24 goals. Altogether he has 32 goals in 73 internationals.
But he has cut an uncharacteristically frustrated figure in two games at Euro 2016 so far, a 2-0 win over Ukraine and a scoreless draw with Poland. Mueller is yet to even have a goal scoring chance at the tournament.
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Mueller appeared calm at the team’s team base at Evian-les-Bains over the past week. He played golf with former Bayern teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger on the players’ day off Saturday and was in a typically jocular mood on Sunday, when he considered the role that chance plays in football.
“Because it looks good in theory or the drawing board, it doesn’t mean that it’ll work out effortlessly in reality. A football game is very complex,” Mueller said.
“A football game is more than just about making decisions. That’s why you can’t say, `We planned it well, we trained well’ – of course we trained well. But there’s the impression that because someone in charge says something will happen, there’s an expectation, yeah, then it’s already done. Football is different because it’s not clear beforehand how it will go.”
As for his own performances, Mueller said he was sure the talk would be of “happier games” in one or two weeks.
“You have to stay hungry and keep going where it hurts, to try and get to the ball a step quicker than the opponent… Regardless of whether you’re praised to the heavens or a bit criticized, you shouldn’t pay too much attention to either.”
Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff, whose golden goal won Germany its last European title in 1996, said it was difficult for modern forwards to shine all the time.
But Bierhoff pointed to Mueller’s late equalizer that forced extra time for Bayern against Juventus in the Champions League round of 16 last March, a game that Bayern eventually won 4-2.
“You don’t see him for 88 minutes, and then he hits,” Bierhoff said.
Germany coach Joachim Loew said it was just a matter of time before Mueller finds his goal scoring form in France.
“He’s simply one who decides games,” Loew said. “He has a nose for goal.”