Despite his puzzling failure ever to score at a European Championship, otherwise prolific Germany forward Thomas Mueller sees no reason for change ahead of Thursday’s semifinal with France in Marseille.
The 26-year-old Mueller, who contributed nine goals in nine qualifying games for Euro 2016, has missed a host of chances in five games so far, extending his scoreless record from Euro 2012. He even missed a penalty in the 6-5 shootout win over Italy in the quarterfinal on Saturday.
Mueller was relaxed at the team’s tournament base at Evian-les-Bains on Tuesday, when he played down the importance of goals in his repertoire.
“Goals are not my gasoline, but the paint on my car perhaps, the special paint that makes it look good,” Mueller said.
“My gasoline is my drive for success, my drive to deliver something remarkable with the team. We’ve come here as world champions, and though the Spanish managed it a couple of years ago, to win an international title one after the other is not an everyday achievement. So my drive for that is huge.”
Germany is bidding to emulate France and Spain in following a World Cup win with the European title. The French won Euro 2000 after winning the 1998 World Cup on home soil, while Spain’s Euro 2012 victory earned it three major tournaments in a row.
Mueller’s lack of success in front of goal is not for want of trying. Aside from his shots on target, he twice struck the goal frame in the 1-0 win over Northern Ireland.
“It’s obvious I would have liked to have scored before now. But like I’ve said before, it’s not a rope around my neck. Maybe when I think of the first goal chance against Northern Ireland, I could have done better, but when I think of the header (off the post) or when I hit the crossbar, I wouldn’t do much differently. It’s down to millimeters,” Mueller said.
“With a bit of luck it goes in. The situations weren’t there. When they were there, I didn’t do anything extraordinary to get a goal, but it doesn’t bother me. I was top-scorer in 2010 (at the World Cup) in South Africa, but we went out in the semifinal and flew home. I was suspended. When I think of experiences, Brazil was nicer and for us as a team more valuable, for the federation and for the land, Germany.”
Mueller arrived in France following his best season yet for Bayern Munich. He scored 32 goals and set up 12 more across all competitions as Bayern ended with the Bundesliga and German Cup double.
Germany coach Joachim Loew isn’t worried about the No. 13.
“Of course I would have liked him to put away one of those big chances, and the penalty would have done him good, but I know Thomas for a long time and he doesn’t let such things get to him,” Loew said on Monday.
Mueller’s five goals at the 2014 World Cup helped Germany to its fourth world title. A goal against France in Marseille on Thursday could help the country toward its fourth European title.
“A goal would give me peace because then I wouldn’t have to answer questions about it,” Mueller said of his barren run. “But I’m not here for praise. Of course, I like praise. But I’ve a good feeling about my performances.”