Thomas Müller

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Muller ‘angry’ after being dropped by Germany

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Thomas Muller has spoken out for the first time since it was announced that Germany manager Jogi Low would drop Muller, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng from selection in 2019 as part of a “new start for the German national team.”

Low came under fire after Germany was bounced from its group in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and it seems he is making drastic changes to kickstart the country’s push towards Euro 2020.

In an Instagram video, Muller has spoken out against the decision, saying, “The more I think about it, the more the way it was done, makes me angry.”

Muller explains that he is under the impression that Low’s decision was not about his play on the field, but his presence in the locker room. “The coach’s sudden decision obviously left me puzzled,” the Bayern Munich striker said. “A coach must make sporting decisions, no problem, I do not have a problem with that. But it’s mostly the character of the decision that I don’t understand. Mats, Jerome and I are still able to play at the highest level.”

The 29-year-old was also not satisfied with the process which the German national team took to publicly announce the decision. “The press releases of the German football federation and its president [Reinhard Grindel], prepared in advance, were from my point of view in bad taste and showed a lack of consideration.”

Muller is not the only one to speak publicly against the decision. Bayern Munich president Karl-Heinz Rumminedge explained his issue with the announcement, deeming it problematic for other reasons. “We consider the timing and circumstances of the announcement, both to the players and public, as questionable,” said Rummenigge in a joint statement with Bayern sport director Hasan Salihamidzic. “The last international match of the German national team took place on 19 November 2018 – three and a half months ago.”

Boateng also shared his disappointment with the decision, although his prepared statement was not as harsh or heartfelt as Muller’s more personal video. “Low told me in a straightforward conversation today that I will not continue to be a part of the Germany team because he wants to offer the stage to young players and give the team a new face,” Boateng wrote on Twitter. “I personally am convinced that I can still play at the highest level and I will show that in future. … I’d have wished for a different type of farewell for us.”

Back on Tuesday when the decision was announced, Low explained he hoped to use this moment to push his younger players into a more feature role on and off the field. We want to give the team a new look. I am convinced that this is the right step,” Low said. “The youngsters coming through will have the room they need to grow. Now it’s up to them to take on responsibility.”

Muller has made exactly 100 appearances for the German national team, scoring 38 goals including five in the 2014 World Cup as the team rode to victory in Brazil. He scored once in the infamous 7-1 victory over Brazil in the semifinals of that tournament and won the Golden Boot in the 2010 World Cup with five goals as well. Muller had some duds on the international level as well, failing to register a goal in Euro 2016 which saw Germany fall to France in the semifinals, and in Euro 2012 as Germany dropped to Italy in the semis as well. He went goalless in the 2018 World Cup as Germany fell to the bottom of its group looking to defend its title.

Bayern takes swipe at Germany coach over dropped players

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich took a swipe at Germany coach Joachim Loew on Wednesday for the manner and timing of his move to prematurely end the international careers of three of the club’s players.

Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were all informed Tuesday that they were no longer in Loew’s plans, part of an ongoing shake-up following Germany’s woeful performance at last year’s World Cup.

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“Basically we do not comment on the sporting decisions of the national coach, but we find the timing and circumstances of the announcement of this decision to the players and the public to be questionable,” Bayern said in a statement.

Bayern also pointed out that Germany’s last game was on Nov. 19 and “the fact the players and public were informed around three months later” before games against Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga and Liverpool in the Champions League “irritates us.”

Loew, however, is expected to name his squad for the team’s next matches in the coming days.

Bayern also paid tribute to its players’ achievements with Germany. All three helped the country win the World Cup in 2014.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Germany axes World Cup winners Muller, Boateng, Hummels

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BERLIN (AP) In a continuing shake-up of Germany’s national team following its woeful World Cup campaign, coach Joachim Low on Tuesday axed the experienced trio of Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels from his future plans – paving the way for a new generation of players to take over.

The decision – which caught many by surprise – represents a calculated gamble by Low, who is counting on younger players to fill the void the three Bayern Munich players will leave.

Muller scored 38 goals in 100 appearances for Germany and has been a mainstay since finishing joint-top scorer at the 2010 World Cup. Hummels and fellow central defender Boateng have 70 and 74 appearances, respectively, and formed the backbone of the team’s defense for years.

All three helped Germany win the World Cup in 2014 but now have to pay the price for the team’s botched title defense in Russia, where it was eliminated in the group stage.

“We want to give the team a new look. I am convinced that this is the right step,” Low said. “The youngsters coming through will have the room they need to grow. Now it’s up to them to take on responsibility.”

Boateng, though, said he would have liked to continue playing for Germany.

“Low told me in a straightforward conversation today that I will not continue to be a part of the Germany team because he wants to offer the stage to young players and give the team a new face,” Boateng wrote on Twitter. “I personally am convinced that I can still play at the highest level and I will show that in future. … I’d have wished for a different type of farewell for us.”

Low, who avoided being fired after the tournament in Russia, was backed by German soccer federation president Reinhard Grindel and team manager Oliver Bierhoff.

Grindel said the changes come at “the right time” and Bierhoff hailed “a new beginning for the squad.”

Grindel himself has also weathered the post-World Cup fallout, despite being heavily criticized for his handling of the media storm that was caused by midfielders Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan posing for photos in London with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the tournament.

It led to both players being subjected to abuse from fans and Ozil’s retirement from internationals after the tournament amid accusations of racism. Ozil said he had been made a scapegoat for the World Cup debacle and was particularly scathing of Grindel for adding fuel to the fire.

The national team shake-up has also seen Low drop Sami Khedira, Sebastian Rudy and Kevin Trapp, while striker Mario Gomez retired.

The forced retirements for Muller, Hummels and Boateng mean just four players are left from the World Cup-winning side of 2014 – Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Matthias Ginter and Julian Draxler. It remains to be seen if Mario Gotze or Shkodran Mustafi return.

Players like Niklas Sule, Jonathan Tah, Thilo Kehrer, Antonio Rudiger or Ginter will be expected to fill the void in defense, while Draxler, Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz will shoulder the attacking responsibilities.

More surprises could come on Friday when Loew announces his squad for the upcoming friendly against Serbia on March 20 in Wolfsburg and the first European qualifier against the Netherlands in Amsterdam four days later.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Bayern suddenly walking wounded prior to Liverpool match

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With Liverpool set to host Bayern Munich on Tuesday in midweek Champions League action, the German giants are suddenly looking at a number of forced changes when they take on the Reds.

The latest injury came in the dying minutes of Bayern’s 3-2 win over Augsburg in Bundesliga play on Friday, as brace-man Kingsley Coman was forced off after Bayern had used all its substitutes. Coman had to be helped off the pitch, and the fear is that he could miss significant time.

The 22-year-old French international is electric when at full strength, but has been troubled by injuries during his time at Allianz Arena. He was plagued by knee problems in his first seasons there, and his left ankle is now the main culprit. Coman saw his season come to an early close right about this time a year ago thanks to ligament trouble in his left ankle, forcing him to miss the rest of the season and the first three months of this season before returning in early December. Now, it seems the troubles are cropping up again in the same spot.

Bayern boss Niko Kovac said after the match that, “It does not look good,” adding, “we’ll have to investigate it tomorrow to find out more.” Should Coman be forced out for any length of time, he would add to the growing list of important players missing for Bayern on Tuesday.

Thomas Muller is suspended after earning a straight red card for a high boot in the final group stage match against Ajax, a damaging loss that saw Muller handed a two-match suspension to keep him out of both legs against Liverpool. Arjen Robben is also out, having been out since early December – oddly enough the same match that saw Coman return – thanks to thigh trouble. While Robben is close to a comeback, he is not fit and has been ruled out of the first leg. Finally, midfielder Corentin Tolisso has been out with an ACL tear since the second league match of the season, and while that’s been in the cards for months, it bears repeating once the depth starts to wear away.

Manuel Neuer has also just returned from a thumb injury, and while he made it through the Augsburg match unscathed and will be ready to suit up against Liverpool, the whole of the Bayern defense looked shaky at times on the counter. Augsburg picked its spots perfectly, scoring 15 seconds into the match and then again before the half-hour mark. The hosts completed an outstanding nine of 10 individual take-ons in the match, finding openings on the break. The Bayern back line was solid in the air, which should give them something to savor from the league victory.

That win was the team’s ninth victory in its last 10 Bundesliga matches, a blistering run that followed a very poor first three months to the campaign.

Without Muller, Coman, and Robben on Tuesday, James Rodriguez and Franck Ribery could see time, as could former Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry who has been a contributing squad player of late while he navigates his own thigh and groin problems.

Muller suspended two matches for high boot

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Bayern Munich striker Thomas Muller was suspended two Champions League matches for the red card he received in the 75th minute of the 3-3 draw with Ajax to close out group stage play in mid-December.

As a result, Muller will miss both legs of the Round of 16 matchup against last year’s runners-up Liverpool.

The 29-year-old German was sent off for a vicious high-boot to the head of Ajax defender Nicolas Tagliafico. The standard Champions League ban for a straight red card involving violent conduct is one match, but the disciplinary committee chose to tack on an additional match due to the nature of the foul.

The straight red card was the first of Muller’s career and just the second sending off of his entire professional career of any variety, a remarkable record that spans 465 matches all for Bayern Munich. The only other time Muller has been sent off was a 2009 Champions League group stage match against Bordeaux when he was handed a second yellow card in the 30th minute of an eventual 2-1 loss.

Muller apologized to Tagliafico for the foul after the match on social media, saying it was “unintentional.” Bayern has announced it will appeal the decision.