When he was a talented youth player at Bayern Munich, Thomas Muller was warned that if he ever played for the first team, he would be on the receiving end of some tough tackling. But Muller could never have imagined that he’d be attacked by one of his own players, as well as an opponent, in the same match.
That’s exactly what happened to the 21-year-old last week during Bayern’s match at Werder Bremen.
Muller became a worldwide star at the 2010 World Cup, where he was named best young player and won the Golden Boot with five goals and three assists.
But if Muller thought his achievement in South Africa would get him special treatment back home in the Bundesliga, he now knows better.
First came Arjen Robben’s assault. After noticing that Muller was peeved at not receiving a pass. Robben promptly stormed over to Muller, grabbed his throat and landed a righthand jab that heavyweight champion and sometime Bayern fan Wladimir Klitschko would have been proud of.
In the aftermath of the match Robben was unrepentant. ”I hate it when team-mates constantly raise their hands and complain. It is disrespectful. We have got to be role models and should not make such gesticulations.”
Bayern’s spin machine called in the ever diplomatic Louis van Gaal.
“It is normal in Holland that we complain with each other and say what we have to say,” the coach said. “There is a different culture in Germany.”
The Dutch player has had a chance to cool down but his final assessment of the attack hardly bodes well for Bayern’s team morale.
”It wasn’t a clever thing to do. I shouldn’t have acted like that on the pitch, I should have done it in the dressing room”.
Thomas ”punch bag” Muller dusted himself off but must have known it wasn’t his afternoon after feeling the full force of Tim Wiese.
The Bremen keeper can be forgiven for feeling frustrated. Wiese had a solid match against Bayern but his side were 3-1 down and falling to a fourth defeat in five games. The team’s staggering 42 goals conceded statistic has less to do with the man between the posts than the wafer thin defence in front of him (the hapless Mikael Silvestre is the club’s first choice left back).
But calling Wiese’s crude challenge on Muller a Kung Fu kick, as many in Germany have done, would be to discredit the ancient Chinese martial art.
Muller was sprinting on to a long pass and found himself one on one with the Bremen keeper. A left forearm crashed into Muller’s face with a force that would have downed a donkey. Wiese following that up with kick into Muller’s midriff and, just to finish off the job, shoved his right fist into Muller’s face before the Bayern player hit the deck. All in the blink of an eye. Wiese’s explanation was barely credible. ”I went for the ball but hit thin air,” he told newspaper Bild.
In truth, Thomas was left well and truly Mullered: Even Bremen-born Bert Trautmann, the goalkeeper who famously played on after breaking his neck in the 1956 FA Cup final, would have winced.
Wiese is often remembered for putting his studs into Ivica Olic’s face during a Bundesliga match, but the attack on Muller went to another, chilling level, recalling the kick from German keeper Harald Schumacher that left Frenchman Patrick Battiston in a coma at the 1982 World Cup finals.
Wiese marched directly to the dressing room before referee Thorsten Kinhofer even had time to get out his red card. He can consider his three match ban lenient. Muller, meanwhile, can be relieved that no more than his pride was hurt after an eventful 90 minutes.
There’s a mouth watering weekend of live Bundesliga action on Eurosport2. It all kicks off with the Ruhr derby between leaders Dortmund and Schalke on Friday (20:30 CET). Former Schalke and Dortmund star Steffen Freund will be our match analyst. On Saturday, keep up with Thomas Muller’s progress with Cologne v Bayern Munich (15:30) and Monchengladbach against Stuttgart (18:30). We’ll show highlights of Nurenberg v Leverkusen at 17:30. Then on Sunday watch another derby Hamburg v St Pauli and finish off the weekend with Freiburg v Frankfurt and our weekly roundup of all the weekend’s action.