The 24-year-old has been the hero for Joachim Low's side during the World Cup and has the chance to win a second Golden Boot if he scores in the final against Argentina on Sunday.RIO DE JANEIRO — There is a common perception that Germany has been different to the other major contenders in the World Cup in that die Mannschaft work as a collective unit without relying on one star man to lead them.
Joachim Low’s side doesn’t have one individual it looks to in the same way that rivals have leaned on Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben, Neymar or James Rodriguez.
But is that really true?
As Germany prepares for Sunday’s final against Argentina at the Maracana, it does so with a player in its squad who has a real chance of winning the Golden Boot for the second World Cup in a row.
Thomas Muller scored five goals in South Africa and he has equaled that tally here in Brazil, to take his total to 10 World Cup goals already at the age of just 24.
The Bayern Munich man comes alive on the big stage and his performances in Germany’s passage to the final have not been given the credit they deserve.
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Muller may not be the easiest on the eye, with his awkward and sometimes clumsy running style and inconsistent first touch.
But he is the focal point of the Germany attack and showed it again in the semifinal massacre of host Brazil in Belo Horizonte.
Muller’s greatest impact in the game came before anyone knew it would end with a jaw-dropping 7-1 scoreline. He volleyed in the opener in the 11th minute before teeing up Miroslav Klose for the second 12 minutes later with a typically intelligent run and pass.
That goal made Klose the all-time leading scorer in World Cups with 16 goals from just 23 games.
But Muller still has at least two World Cups in him and will expect to break his compatriot’s record before his career is over.
Indeed, he boasts an astonishing World Cup record of 10 goals and six assists in 12 appearances in the tournament.
Perhaps he does not catch the eye even in the same manner as some of his more technical teammates like Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil or the injured Marco Reus do, but Muller is by far Germany’s most important player.
If there is one glaring weakness in the Germany squad, it is the lack of a striker to lead the line beyond 36-year-old Klose, but Muller’s versatility has allowed him to play as the lone frontman during the tournament, including in the opener against Portugal when he scored twice.
In his more familiar attacking midfield role, Muller has set the tone for Germany with his aggressive pressing, relentless running and efficient use of the ball.
His style is unselfish and he does not come across as the kind of character of wants attention, but that does not mean he doesn’t deserve it.
He was considered a squad player for Bayern Munich for much of last season but still scored 13 goals and created 10 more in 25 starts for the Bundesliga champions.
It is for his country, though, that Muller truly shines.
If Muller scores in the final, he will draw level with James Rodriguez as this World Cup’s top scorer with six goals and go one better than his tally in South Africa four years ago.
And in addition to the Golden Boot, he should be in contention for the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament.
If he wins it, no one can still say that Germany doesn’t have a star player.