Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has played down the hype surrounding Germany’s Thomas Muller, following the midfielder-cum-forward’s hat-trick in his side’s emphatic 4-0 win over Portugal on Monday.
The three goals for Die Mannschaft in their Group G opener saw Muller race to the top of the tournament’s scoring charts, while also taking his overall World Cup record to eight in seven appearances.
Mourinho however is still not entirely convinced by the Bayern Munich man and wants to see him prove himself against a solid defence, as oppose to the disorganised Portuguese unit.
‘I would like to see Muller up against a compact defence,’ he told Yahoo Eurosport. ‘That would test him. Portugal were far too weak. There are plenty of teams at this World Cup who defend far better, are much tighter and better organised.’
Mourinho did however have some words of praise for Muller’s all-round play, but questioned whether the 24-year-old can ultimately fill the role of an out-and-out forward for his national side.
‘He's incredibly dynamic and has a unique goalscoring instinct, and he finds room on the field that nobody else knows about,’ he added. ‘But I still think that, even with Muller, Germany don't have a real forward in their team.’
A regular for club and country for the past four years, Muller is coming off a 13-goal Bundesliga season with Bayern, in which the side celebrated a second consecutive title, following their historic 2012-13 treble-winning campaign.
One of the revelations of the 2010 World Cup, where he earned both the Golden Boot and Best Young Player award on the back of Germany’s run to the semi-finals, Muller’s importance to Joachim Low’s side is underlined by his ability to fill any number of attacking roles, as well as his consistency, positioning and solid work-rate.
Often lining up on the right wing in the past, the team’s lack of a legitimate starting option up top saw Muller deployed in the “false nine” role against Portugal, where his flair for finding space caused absolute havoc for a defence which lost centre-back Pepe to a red card at 2-0 down.
Despite Mourinho’s qualms, Germany certainly looked like one of the more formidable outfits of the first round of group games, but it remains to be seen whether both Muller and the rest of the squad can carry that form into their next matchup against Ghana on Saturday.
On early pace to secure his second Golden Boot in a row, 2014 could well prove a historic tournament for the Bayern star, as he looks to help continue the three-time world champions’ formidable tournament record with another successful run this summer.