LISBON, Portugal, Aug 14 – Record-breaking Thomas Mueller said Bayern Munich’s 8-2 thrashing of Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final on Friday topped the 7-1 hammering Germany handed Brazil at the 2014 World Cup as he stole the limelight from Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi.
Man-of-the-match Mueller netted twice in Lisbon as Barcelona conceded four goals in the first-half of a Champions League game for the first time as Bayern led 4-1 at half-time.
Substitute Philippe Coutinho, on loan from Barcelona, also scored twice after the break, alongside goals from Joshua Kimmich and Lewandowski, as Barcelona suffered their heaviest defeat in Europe.
“When we (Germany) played against Brazil we were not as in control as we were tonight,” insisted Mueller who also scored in the historic World Cup semi-final.
“You can never completely turn Barcelona off, but we gave their midfield practically no room, we did what we wanted to do.”
The 30-year-old Mueller capped an outstanding display by passing Philipp Lahm’s record to become the German with the most Champions League appearances with 113 games.
“We need to stop talking about the record, it’s just a statistic,” Mueller insisted.
“There were a lot of nicer things to say about the game.
“Our team spirit is extremely good and the main thing is we are doing what we want to do on the pitch, everyone is torturing themselves to put the work in.”
After Bayern threw down a marker to their remaining Champions League rivals, Mueller warned that nothing has been achieved yet.
Up next is a semi-final against either Manchester City or Lyon.
“I am just happy we could put in a performance like that under such pressure,” he said.
“My experience is that it gets more difficult now, it starts again at 0-0 and, in a semi-final, the teams tend not to get worse, but better.
“We can go to bed with a smile and enjoy the atmosphere, but we want to stay in the tournament.”
In the build up, there had been fierce debate as to whether Lewandowski or Messi is the better player.
– Barca’s nemesis –
However Mueller stole the show by underlining his status as Barcelona’s nemesis with six goals in five games against the Spanish giants.
Mueller scored against Barcelona when Bayern bowed out in the Champions League semi-finals in 2014/15.
He also netted three goals over two legs against Barcelona seven years ago when Bayern romped to a 4-0 win in Munich and 3-0 away in the semi-finals on the way to winning the 2013 Champions League title.
After creating a record 21 assists in the Bundesliga last season – many of them finished by Lewandowski – Mueller outshone the Champions League’s top-scorer in Lisbon with two superb first-half goals.
He took a return pass from Lewandowski with just four minutes gone to fire past Barca’s Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
After Bayern defender David Alaba turned the ball into his own net on seven minutes, Bayern emphatically re-established their lead by bossing the Barca midfield with goals by Ivan Perisic and Serge Gnabry.
Mueller made it 4-1 on 31 minutes when he fired in Joshua Kimmich’s low cross at the far post to leave Barcelona shell-shocked at the break.
“It was a special evening,” Mueller added, “from the result alone and the way it felt on the pitch.”
His form in 2019/20 had already proved that Germany head coach Joachim Loew arguably wrote Mueller out of his plans far too soon.
Following Germany’s disastrous 2018 World Cup campaign, when the holders went out in the group stages, Mueller was unceremoniously dumped by Loew in March 2019 alongside defenders Mat Hummels and Jerome Boateng.
However, Mueller has responded and proven emphatically why former Bayern coach Niko Kovac was also wrong to start him on the bench this season.
When Kovac was sacked in November, his replacement Hansi Flick reinstated Mueller, who has been a key factor with 14 goals this season.
He has been the central cog in attack as Bayern romped to an eighth straight Bundesliga title, lifted the German Cup and remain on course to add the Champions League title.