Thomas Muller comes alive at last for surging Bayern Munich
There was nothing spectacular about the Italian league match between Reggiana and Palermo back on August 27, 1995, certainly nothing to suggest that the former Italy international coaching the home side would go on to win three Champions League trophies and the same number of league titles as coach in three different countries.
This was Carlo Ancelotti, for whom Saturday marked game No. 1,000 as a manager, with his Bayern Munich side destroying Hamburg 8-0 at the Allianz Arena.
“How many happy moments and how many disappointments; how many worries and how many emotions in all these years,” Ancelotti said before the game. “Reaching one’s aim is the end of an adventure. Be calm, it’s not my case, I love what I do and I’m eager to live another thousand emotions.”
Few will have been as easy as this, against an opponent so accommodating it has conceded 44 in its last seven games in Munich. Bayern is cracking into gear now spring is in sight; it has showed it has a temperament for the big games, beating RB Leipzig 3-0 in December and Arsenal 5-1 earlier this month.
While Robert Lewandowski scored his third hat trick of the season, the star of the show was Thomas Muller, even though he didn't score and was booked for diving. It has been a tough season for Muller, whose tally of one Bundesliga goal this season is the same as Mats Hummels, Rafinha and Philipp Lahm. He had a chance to score but decided to lay it off for David Alaba to make it 5-0.
“A goal is not everything for me now, and that’s an example that I really do mean it when I say it,” he told the press after the game.
Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said it was Muller’s best performance of the season. Ancelotti’s predecessor, Pep Guardiola, won over fans with dominant performances all season, but ultimately fell short in Europe in the spring. The hope in Munich is that Ancelotti brings about the opposite. Now spring is close, the team is clicking into action nicely and Muller rounding into form can only help the club's momentum.
As Rummenigge added: “If you win 8-0, that's a sign.”