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Thomas Müller

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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby aterford » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:26 am

So then why did Müller (by most standards) have a poor showing at the Euros?

Also worth noting - quality of competition. Of the BL games you mentioned that Müller played in without Alonso, he only logged two assists against top-half of the table opposition.
IMO, this points to one of two things (or perhaps both). First off, we see that this season Ancelotti has trusted Alonso to play in the big and important games - tougher opposition. So it is not entirely surprising to see that in these games Müller has played worse and had a harder time scoring or assisting - these teams are harder to score and assist against. Second, we see that the inverse is true. Müller has performed well in unimportant matches and against weaker opposition. Alonso or no Alonso, he has consistently failed to deliver this year vs top opponents. In "big" matches (Read: BL opponents who could challenge for title and knockout UCL/Pokal games) he has produced one goal (in the 88th minute vs Arsenal while up 4-1) and two assists vs Augsburg in the Pokal. Zeroes for all the rest of the big matches.

As is often the case, correlation does not equal causation and I think it's inaccurate to pin all (or even most) of Müller's struggles this season on playing alongside Alonso. This type of statistical analysis only works at the very most base level as it takes into account virtually zero variables; there are far too many other different variations that are left unaccounted for. I understand this is an internet forum and not university or anything like that...but in academia it would be inappropriate to even make the insinuation that Alonso has caused Müller to struggle based on the data provided.
Last edited by aterford on Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby pyrasur » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:42 am

Your analysis is lacking. I applaud the effort, but you use your statistics to hide your small sample sizes and the context of your data. 18 games without Xabi Alonso and the most credible Bundesliga side there is 1. FC Köln? With one CL game home against Rostov?

You hide the fact that against major opposition, Xabi Alonso starts every time. When we play Dortmund, or Atletico Madrid, Arsenal he starts. Müller does not start alone against those top teams, or he is dropped to the bench. The teams he has had success (according to you) against are largely bottom of the table. Hamburg 14/18. Mainz 15/18. Wolfsburg 13/18. Hertha is 5th and he did nothing. Köln 7/18 with one assist. Frankfurt 9/18 one assist. Augsburg 16/18. Leverkusen 11/18 and nothing.
而剑法的最高境界,则是手中无剑,心中也无剑,是以大胸怀,包容一切。那便是不杀,便是和平。-英雄
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby pyrasur » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:00 am

My problem, having dabbled in statistics is well, is that the correlation could either be Xabi Alonso, or it could be the fact that Xabi Alonso starts against top teams, and Müller lately simply chokes against top teams. Statistics can point in the right direction, but even as an ardent believer in mathematics, stats aren't proof in and of themselves. And watching Müller simply unable to will himself to shoot, I'm inclined to disbelieve there is a Xabi Alonso gremlin on his shoulder that explains Müller's shocking inability lately to do the basics.

I'm not condemning Müller. Maybe one day he will get out of his slump. I believe he IS a top player and a top character. But simply watching his performance right now there is no excuse.
而剑法的最高境界,则是手中无剑,心中也无剑,是以大胸怀,包容一切。那便是不杀,便是和平。-英雄
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby Manchu » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:04 am

aterford wrote:So then why did Müller (by most standards) have a poor showing at the Euros?

I'm not sure. There are several possible explanations.

One thing to remember is that Muller also had a poor showing at the 2012 Euros, but has had strong performances in both World Cups he has played in. Part of it might be something psychological related to the Euros.

It should also been noted that Muller was somewhat unlucky at the Euros anyways, hitting the frame of the goal twice.

Moreover, Germany was playing with Gotze as a false 9 for most of the time during the Euros. I suspect that that might be harmful to Muller's play because Muller tends to play best behind a center forward. Notably, in the game against Norway after the Euros, where Muller scored 2 goals and assisted one with Gotze as center forward, Gotze wasn't playing as a false 9 but instead as a "pseudo 9" whose job was to hold position in order to occupy the defense.

Additionally, we didn't even get to see much of Muller playing behind Gomez because Gomez got injured before the game against France.

Germany was very focused on possession and wasn't crossing the ball very often during the Euros(to an annoying degree), and Muller often profits from crosses, so that might have effected him.

Also, Germany was playing a weird 3:5:2 against Italy which might have affected the performances of some players.

In the match against France, where Germany Muller to play at his best more than ever, he was forced to play as a lone center forward, and results were, predictably, poor.

Finally, it's very possible that he was simply out of form during the Euros but has since recovered.

In short, I have no real idea. However, his performances in national team matches since then have all been quite positive since then, which is one of the reasons that I thought to examine if Xabi Alonso's presence was having a negative effect. Otherwise I would have thought "Muller just can't play right wing and needs to play as secondary striker" like many people do.
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby Manchu » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:41 am

pyrasur wrote:My problem, having dabbled in statistics is well, is that the correlation could either be Xabi Alonso, or it could be the fact that Xabi Alonso starts against top teams, and Müller lately simply chokes against top teams. Statistics can point in the right direction, but even as an ardent believer in mathematics, stats aren't proof in and of themselves. And watching Müller simply unable to will himself to shoot, I'm inclined to disbelieve there is a Xabi Alonso gremlin on his shoulder that explains Müller's shocking inability lately to do the basics.

I'm not condemning Müller. Maybe one day he will get out of his slump. I believe he IS a top player and a top character. But simply watching his performance right now there is no excuse.



I do understand the two problems that you bring up. I've considered them both, and I wouldn't have made the post if I wasn't satisfied that I had stumbled upon something. In fact, the focus on starting together is not my preferred method of analysis, but instead to present the data in an easy to understand way.

First, in regards to the difference in opponent quality, Muller and Xabi Alonso started together for nearly the first half of the season in home and away games against all strengths of opponents. Muller wasn't producing anything. Not a single goal or assist for months. Then Carlo Ancelotti drops Xabi Alonso for an away game against Mainz. Instantly an assist. In fact, I can throw the league rankings right back at you. Here are the teams he wasn't having success against when he was starting with Xabi Alonso: Schalke(10), Koln(7), Dortmund(4), Leverkusen(11), Werder Bremen(12), Freiburg(6)(they appear to be the luckiest team ever with -15 for GD), and Schalke(10) again.

Moreover, outside of Bayern, the Bundesliga is one of the world's most equal leagues(just compare the league table last year to this year. There is a lot of random chance involved). Comparing performances across games is much easier than other leagues because the biggest factor influencing the outcome of games is not player quality but home field advantage. In fact, there's only a 9 point difference on the table between Europa League qualification and the relegation playoff spot, so deciding how good a team is based on their position on the table is basically judging based on luck.

As for the question of sample sizes, that would be highly relevant if the level of correlation was small. If that was true, then I would never have brought this data up.

However, it is extreme. The higher the level of correlation, the smaller sample size that is required to have to determine that the correlation is statistically significant(Let us say that a box contains either red balls or blue balls. If I draw 10 balls and all of them are blue, I can conclude, with a high degree of confidence, that the majority of the balls in the box are blue. This is one of those situations, because we have 16 out of 18 of Muller's games where he plays without Xabi Alonso as being games where he played well).

Moreover, you are actually using the same sample size (30 or so games) to determine, mentally, that Muller has had a bad season, so you probably shouldn't complain about too much about it.

As for Xabi Alonso playing instead of Muller against big teams, that is indeed true. My main regret with about this data is that Carlo Ancelotti has not once, during the entire season, played Muller without Xabi Alonso against a big team, so I have no idea about how well he played. However, I must say that my particular analysis of Xabi Alonso was based only on Bundesliga matches. The only relevant games(where Xabi Alonso played and Muller didn't) are Bayern 3:0 RB and Bayern 4:1 Dortmund. Ironically, they both help Alonso's average(presumably because Bayern started the best possible lineup with highly motivated players). The games where the team underperforms when he's on the pitch are the smaller ones.

Finally, we must talk about Muller's performance in this latest Leverkusen game, which has everyone up-in-arms. I find it quite curious. People seem to be quite outraged that Muller screwed up one decent chance, and to be fair, he did. In part due to luck and in part to situational awareness, he got himself in a into a one vs. one with the keeper, and he screwed it up. He can be blamed for that.

However, he also created both of Bayern's best chances that game and gave Coman and Lahm balls that were practicably tap ins. The fact that both of them managed to screw those chances up is not Muller's fault. However, I wonder how people would have reacted if one of them had scored and Bayern had won the game. Would people be so critical of Muller, or would they praise him instead?

In fact, the interesting comparison is with Coman. I've seen a lot a praise for Coman's performance. Coman created one decent chance(which Douglas Costa had to do a lot of work to in order to almost score) and screwed up a virtual tap in. Muller screwed up one decent chance and created two really good ones, but has been criticized. It almost seems to me that Muller is being held to an entirely different standard.

This brings me to your claim that my claim requires a "Xabi Alonso gremlin" negatively influencing Muller's shooting and technical ability. That is not true at all. Muller, like all forwards including Robert Lewandowski, has screwed up an awful lot of chances over the course of his career. In fact, he's never been that incredible at finishing, and has failed to score in many one vs. ones with the keeper. However, the fact that he was somewhat wasteful with his chances was more than made up by his incredible ability to create chances. People forgive you if you score twice even if you should have scored 4 times, and in time forget that you missed so many chances and just remember the goals. No one talks about how Lewandowski blasted a volley that he should have scored against the crossbar against Atletico Madrid because he normally scores a lot.

Have you ever played as a forward before? That position is more vulnerable than any other to poor team dynamics and distribution of the ball. You can't score if you never touch the ball, as I found out just the other night. The way to beat Messi(as a past Bayern team proved) is to ensure that he never touches the ball.

With all of that being said, it is very easy to see why Xabi Alonso, a regista, would be the player must likely to screw over another player through the poor distribution of the ball(in fact, I've seen Thiago, Boateng, and Hummels all play long ball through balls onto Muller's run, but I've never seen Alonso do it once). It's obvious what's going on. With Alonso as regista, Bayern distribute the ball in a slower, less direct manner and rarely play throughballs. This results in Muller getting fewer chances of poor quality. He, predictably, botches them. Under normal, non-Alonso circumstances, Muller would get more chances and eventually score, leading to people to forget about his mistakes, but with Alonso he doesn't. People remember when Muller botched it and criticize him for it.
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby pyrasur » Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:22 am

Yes, I've played soccer into college. I'd appreciate it if we could talk as equals, because it feels like I'm being told by someone who plays pickup soccer how sports performance works. I really appreciated the statistics explanation though. Here I was thinking I was explaining to you that confidence is just confidence and how statistics are a tool used to explain things, and I guess you've already had a high school stats class and I need the blue balls explanation.

I'm skeptical about your claims, because I'm largely convinced that you cherry pick some parameters and that you choose to ignore variables that don't fit your model. Suddenly you find it in your heart to be forgiving of Müller, if only Lahm or Coman had tapped his near assists into the net against Leverkusen. No question asked how many chances Xabi Alonso creates, how the team might create more, because we already know Müller doesn't score goals when Xabi Alonso is in the team. Or it's because he's not a right winger, but he somehow can provide an assist out from wide against already beat opposition after Alonso is off and the game is done. Against RB Leipzig and Dortmund, any Bayern goals scored must be because the "Bayern started the best possible lineup outside of Xabi Alonso" but any goals conceded comes to one specific part of that lineup. Forgive me if I simply see confirmation bias creep into how you want to see things. I do promise though that I will take a more careful and open minded look at your premise when I get back home from vacation, because I'm guilty of the same.

Maybe you are right and Müller just loses it when Alonso is on the field. Allegedly he gets fewer "poor quality" chances. Tough for me to accept when I watch him not even take a chance one on one with the keeper, but I promise I'm open to being wrong. But I'd prefer to find that Müller is simply a quality player that is just working though something right now. But hey form is a myth.
而剑法的最高境界,则是手中无剑,心中也无剑,是以大胸怀,包容一切。那便是不杀,便是和平。-英雄
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby aterford » Sun Apr 16, 2017 2:55 pm

Even *if* it were true that Müller underperforms when Alonso plays (or when he's at RW, or when he's at #9, or when we play against defensive teams, or when there's a full moon, etc etc) I still don't think this quite enough to fully exonerate him.

As I've said before, top TOP players simply make it work. I understand that certain players' play-styles don't mesh well and I understand that certain players have to work harder to make it work, but Alonso and Müller have been performing at the highest levels for years and simply should be able to make it work. Müller didn't struggle one bit with Alonso last season, even when he was providing the same "fewer chances of poor quality" so I don't think that holds too much merit.

TBH, one could just as easily look at the data provided and conclude that Müller struggles alongside Alonso not because of Alonso but because generally the entire team struggles, OR, one might simply conclude that in games that Müller and Alonso play and we play well we do so in spite of Müller, not because of him.

Honestly, I consider my stats guy, and I do find them useful....in the proper application. But again I'll note: there are countless variables at play here that aren't being considered. The application here is way too simplistic. Every player on the pitch impacts every other player on the pitch - as such it's not just Alonso who impacts Müller and it's not simply Alonso who causes us to 'underperform'. You might have found positive correlation but I'll again state that this in no way proves causation.

Perhaps I've got it backwards, but it sure feels like you've started with your conclusion and worked backwards from there, accepting data that supports it and neglecting to include any data that doesn't support this conclusion.
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby PunkCapitalist » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:27 pm

Manchu wrote:
pyrasur wrote:My problem, having dabbled in statistics is well, is that the correlation could either be Xabi Alonso, or it could be the fact that Xabi Alonso starts against top teams, and Müller lately simply chokes against top teams. Statistics can point in the right direction, but even as an ardent believer in mathematics, stats aren't proof in and of themselves. And watching Müller simply unable to will himself to shoot, I'm inclined to disbelieve there is a Xabi Alonso gremlin on his shoulder that explains Müller's shocking inability lately to do the basics.

I'm not condemning Müller. Maybe one day he will get out of his slump. I believe he IS a top player and a top character. But simply watching his performance right now there is no excuse.



I do understand the two problems that you bring up. I've considered them both, and I wouldn't have made the post if I wasn't satisfied that I had stumbled upon something. In fact, the focus on starting together is not my preferred method of analysis, but instead to present the data in an easy to understand way.

First, in regards to the difference in opponent quality, Muller and Xabi Alonso started together for nearly the first half of the season in home and away games against all strengths of opponents. Muller wasn't producing anything. Not a single goal or assist for months. Then Carlo Ancelotti drops Xabi Alonso for an away game against Mainz. Instantly an assist. In fact, I can throw the league rankings right back at you. Here are the teams he wasn't having success against when he was starting with Xabi Alonso: Schalke(10), Koln(7), Dortmund(4), Leverkusen(11), Werder Bremen(12), Freiburg(6)(they appear to be the luckiest team ever with -15 for GD), and Schalke(10) again.

Moreover, outside of Bayern, the Bundesliga is one of the world's most equal leagues(just compare the league table last year to this year. There is a lot of random chance involved). Comparing performances across games is much easier than other leagues because the biggest factor influencing the outcome of games is not player quality but home field advantage. In fact, there's only a 9 point difference on the table between Europa League qualification and the relegation playoff spot, so deciding how good a team is based on their position on the table is basically judging based on luck.

As for the question of sample sizes, that would be highly relevant if the level of correlation was small. If that was true, then I would never have brought this data up.

However, it is extreme. The higher the level of correlation, the smaller sample size that is required to have to determine that the correlation is statistically significant(Let us say that a box contains either red balls or blue balls. If I draw 10 balls and all of them are blue, I can conclude, with a high degree of confidence, that the majority of the balls in the box are blue. This is one of those situations, because we have 16 out of 18 of Muller's games where he plays without Xabi Alonso as being games where he played well).

Moreover, you are actually using the same sample size (30 or so games) to determine, mentally, that Muller has had a bad season, so you probably shouldn't complain about too much about it.

As for Xabi Alonso playing instead of Muller against big teams, that is indeed true. My main regret with about this data is that Carlo Ancelotti has not once, during the entire season, played Muller without Xabi Alonso against a big team, so I have no idea about how well he played. However, I must say that my particular analysis of Xabi Alonso was based only on Bundesliga matches. The only relevant games(where Xabi Alonso played and Muller didn't) are Bayern 3:0 RB and Bayern 4:1 Dortmund. Ironically, they both help Alonso's average(presumably because Bayern started the best possible lineup with highly motivated players). The games where the team underperforms when he's on the pitch are the smaller ones.

Finally, we must talk about Muller's performance in this latest Leverkusen game, which has everyone up-in-arms. I find it quite curious. People seem to be quite outraged that Muller screwed up one decent chance, and to be fair, he did. In part due to luck and in part to situational awareness, he got himself in a into a one vs. one with the keeper, and he screwed it up. He can be blamed for that.

However, he also created both of Bayern's best chances that game and gave Coman and Lahm balls that were practicably tap ins. The fact that both of them managed to screw those chances up is not Muller's fault. However, I wonder how people would have reacted if one of them had scored and Bayern had won the game. Would people be so critical of Muller, or would they praise him instead?

In fact, the interesting comparison is with Coman. I've seen a lot a praise for Coman's performance. Coman created one decent chance(which Douglas Costa had to do a lot of work to in order to almost score) and screwed up a virtual tap in. Muller screwed up one decent chance and created two really good ones, but has been criticized. It almost seems to me that Muller is being held to an entirely different standard.

This brings me to your claim that my claim requires a "Xabi Alonso gremlin" negatively influencing Muller's shooting and technical ability. That is not true at all. Muller, like all forwards including Robert Lewandowski, has screwed up an awful lot of chances over the course of his career. In fact, he's never been that incredible at finishing, and has failed to score in many one vs. ones with the keeper. However, the fact that he was somewhat wasteful with his chances was more than made up by his incredible ability to create chances. People forgive you if you score twice even if you should have scored 4 times, and in time forget that you missed so many chances and just remember the goals. No one talks about how Lewandowski blasted a volley that he should have scored against the crossbar against Atletico Madrid because he normally scores a lot.

Have you ever played as a forward before? That position is more vulnerable than any other to poor team dynamics and distribution of the ball. You can't score if you never touch the ball, as I found out just the other night. The way to beat Messi(as a past Bayern team proved) is to ensure that he never touches the ball.

With all of that being said, it is very easy to see why Xabi Alonso, a regista, would be the player must likely to screw over another player through the poor distribution of the ball(in fact, I've seen Thiago, Boateng, and Hummels all play long ball through balls onto Muller's run, but I've never seen Alonso do it once). It's obvious what's going on. With Alonso as regista, Bayern distribute the ball in a slower, less direct manner and rarely play throughballs. This results in Muller getting fewer chances of poor quality. He, predictably, botches them. Under normal, non-Alonso circumstances, Muller would get more chances and eventually score, leading to people to forget about his mistakes, but with Alonso he doesn't. People remember when Muller botched it and criticize him for it.

This is exactly what I think. Not so much the statistics (they are good to make you suspect, but not to prove anything IMO), but completely the game analysis. Xabi is just not a good distributor for direct footballers. Its a real shame, because he shouldn't play against Madrid, but he definitively will.

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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby Thiagoalcantara » Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:27 pm

This dude makes zero sense.

Alonso played on freaking liverpool and Real madrid.

2 teams with pure speed demons and counter attacks galore.
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby Manchu » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:07 pm

Thiagoalcantara wrote:This dude makes zero sense.

Alonso played on freaking liverpool and Real madrid.

2 teams with pure speed demons and counter attacks galore.

Yeah, he did, and he was very successful there. I never watched him play much for those teams, but I'm willing to bet that he's very good at distributing the ball on counter-attacks.

In this case, direct does not mean counter-attacking(which is very hard to do against the parked buses we play most of our games against) but instead means playing long balls from possession.

When both Lewandowski and Muller are playing, our favored offensive tactic goes like this:
1) We have possession of the ball around or a little forward of the half-way line.
2) Either one of the central defenders or Thiago gains possession of the ball.
3) Lewandowski and/or Muller makes perfectly timed run behind the defensive line of the opposing team.
4) One of the central defenders or Thiago spots this run and plays a long ball in the air or on the ground to Muller or Lewandowski
5)If Muller or Lewandowski receive the ball outwide,they attempt to play a quick cross into an onrushing attacker. If they receive the ball centrally, they go one vs. one on the keeper and score.

Bayern Munich 6-0 Augsburg is probably the best example of it.
If you're willing to suffer through this finicky highlight video(seriously, it's hard finding highlight videos of Bundesliga games), you can see it yourself.

Anyways, this is a very effective attacking dynamic that didn't exist so much under Pep, but it doesn't seem to happen when Xabi Alonso is playing for some reason. That is what is being discussed when we're talking about Xabi Alonso not playing directly.

As for pyrasur and aterford, I'll get to your posts in detail when I have more time.

Pyrasur, I must apologize if it seemed like I was trying to talk down to do you. I was frustrated about something else unrelated to you, and it seems like some of that frustration leaked down upon you. I hope you don't hold a grudge against me. Also, out of curiosity, what position did you play?

Aterford, I must quickly point out that, yes, Muller and Alonso played fine together last season. That's because our main tactic last season was this: have Alonso play it outwide to CoCo, have CoCo cross it into the box, and hope Lewandowski or Muller gets something on it and scores. We don't play like this under Ancelotti, which was when the problems started.

Of course, Muller and Alonso seem to have played together fine 2014-15 and I, not having been following Bayern then, haven't researched Bayern's tactics enough to understand why this worked then. And yes, I should also check preform checks for everyone else on the team; the only reason that I haven't done so is the tremendous degree of work required and my lack of time. Still, I would say that there seems to be more evidence for my hypothesis than the other ones that are being thrown around so casually which I can mostly dismiss with reference to one game("Muller has forgotten how to do the basics"-Hamburg, "Muller refuses to shoot"-Augsburg, "Muller can't play right wing"-Norway).
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby JANCKER » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:09 pm

This how I see it... Alonso is a cripple and needs 2 other true midfielders for him to work. Lovers of attacking football gotta love Muller instead of a midfield 3.
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby Thiagoalcantara » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:40 pm

All Liverpool did was play longballs to Torres.

Look at their attackers during that time.

Torres
Gerrard (SS/CM) You know what Gerrard is known for in England? Direct play and hollywood longballs
Kuyt (RW) You know what kuyt is known for? Being an industrial player on the wings and feeding Torres/Gerrard

Alonso peak were with 2 teams that were very good in direct play. Real madrid become more possession based once Carlo came to the team, but definitely not with Jose Mourinho as manager of Real madrid.
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby aterford » Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:54 am

JANCKER wrote:This how I see it... Alonso is a cripple and needs 2 other true midfielders for him to work. Lovers of attacking football gotta love Muller instead of a midfield 3.


Saying "Alonso needs 2 other true midfielders for him to work" is no better than the people saying "Müller needs to play centrally behind the striker and needs a true striker ahead of him to work"
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby JANCKER » Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:59 am

Yes, it's better... centrally he can be a goal threat, you can't be a goal threat from the RW if you don't have Robben's left foot. Playing on the wing or CF takes away his freedom which made him WC.
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JANCKER
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Re: Thomas Müller

Postby aterford » Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:15 am

JANCKER wrote:Yes, it's better... centrally he can be a goal threat, you can't be a goal threat from the RW if you don't have Robben's left foot. Playing on the wing or CF takes away his freedom which made him WC.


Surely you're not talking about the guy who was the leading scorer at 2010 WC playing from RW the entire time? Come on. You've just made this up.
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