|See his badge? Yea, he's the regular goalkeeper in Hamburg SV.|
Meet Thomas Müller, number 13, attacking midfielder.
Until I saw this...
(Source: FIFA World Cup awards - Wikipedia)
I repeatedly scrolled that up and down to make sure that my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. Seriously, how many players won BOTH awards in their first World Cup?
He scored five goals and was tied for the best with David Villa, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlán. However Müller had three assists, the most in the group, which gave him the edge in the trophy race. And he's only 20 at that time.
It made me realize that it wasn't just a fluke with Müller. Maybe he's the one true sportician that was under my radar for too long. So, let me elaborate why this guy took my heart as my favorite player. Warning, this post might be subjective ;)
You don't expect from him a spectacular goal or a jaw-dropping dribble skill. In fact, this guy is stealing all the attention without the ball at his feet. Yes, I did say 'without the ball'. What does that mean?
If the opponent's in possession of the ball, he has a brilliant work rate, closing down direct opponents and helping out. He also has good tackles and ball-winning capabilities.
If a teammate's in possession of the ball, he has fantastic spatial awareness, meaning he has smart positioning and a sense to sprint into where the danger is. He also has unpredictable runs that draw defenders, opening the game for teammates.
With those reasons, no wonder he has assisted a lot. But he himself has scored a lot too (see the golden boot award). He is a wonderful close-range finisher. His special power is to find the tiniest hint of space and take an advantage of it.
Tee hee, this one is a very Thomas-Müller-goal. Nice reflex! :D
Müller is what you get when a player stops trying to do everything with the ball and nothing with their eyes and legs. He anticipates the rebound ball, which is why he could do this:When Per Mertesacker's header was saved by Tim Howard, I was disappointed; I could not believe my eyes when the ball bounced back into the far corner of the net one second after that.
And there's a moment that simply made me reacted like this:
One of his sensational goal was created when he not only deceived Rene Adler with his positioning, I think most people including Adler thought he was going to back pass from that position, but instead, he curled the ball and scored it himself.
Who could have expected a ball that was shot from just inside the touchline to past the goalie?
In short, he can be everywhere and all of sudden he'll score. I don't think I have ever seen or heard about him being off side. He plays effectively, passionately and instinctively. Those are qualities that can never be taught by any coach. Combine that with his football brain of Einstein dimension and you will get the sneaky Raumdeuter, which is German for interpreter of space.
What else? Oh, he's a tenacious player. No matter how bad the opponents want to take the ball, he won't make it easy for them.