Hummels and Müller: In parallel flight to the last tournament

Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller have already played five tournaments together for Germany. After a good two years, the two world champions are reunited again on the USA tour.

Experienced veterans on the road: Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller in Hartford (right).

Experienced veterans on the road: Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller in Hartford (right).

picture alliance/dpa

kicker chief reporter Oliver Hartmann reports on the DFB selection’s US trip

The first three days of training under Julian Nagelsmann are behind Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller, and it can be seen from their faces and statements that the defender from Dortmund finds this tour of the USA much more exciting than the offensive all-rounder from FC Bayern. “I’m an old hand. There wasn’t anything special about it, and I wasn’t expecting any big surprises either,” said Müller in a matter-of-fact way, describing his first impressions under the new national coach, whose approach – unlike Hummels – he used until now I had already witnessed his dismissal as a club coach in Munich seven months ago.

The second, at least equally serious difference between the two veterans is: Müller has been knocked out in the 28 months since the round of 16 knockout. At the 2021 European Championships, he was mostly in the middle of the national team’s action, while Hummels was not taken into account during Hansi Flick’s term in office. The 34-year-old squad senior emphasized that he was “completely happy” to be able to get involved again, and he was clearly enjoying being able to be in the German team’s team headquarters in the immediate vicinity of Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.

Müller: “Many people wouldn’t have believed Mats could do that”

Müller believes that Hummels deserves the nomination, which will be followed by his comeback against the USA on Saturday (9 p.m. CEST, LIVE! on kicker) in Hartford: “Basically, Mats plays a very good role at Dortmund. Many people probably wouldn’t have him I don’t think he’ll get into such a physical state again.” These words reflect recognition from Müller, who is also 34 years old and who, when looking at Hummels’ career in the national team, is also reminded of his own. “We’re flying parallel a little bit,” he said. Once pushed away, then brought back, questioned again and now back together again.

Eight months after the 2018 World Cup fiasco in Russia, the then national coach Joachim Löw visited the duo in Munich to inform them, as well as Jerome Boateng, that they were being withdrawn from the national team. An action that Löw is now ready for in this form. A good two years later, Hummels and Müller were brought back by him for the 2021 European Championship tournament. While the 2-0 loss at Wembley in the round of 16 against England became a temporary farewell performance for Hummels, Flick stuck with Müller at the disastrous Qatar World Cup, only to then no longer consider him. Flick ended his banishment on September 9th in a 4-1 defeat against Japan. In the last 17 minutes of his tenure, he substituted the Munich veteran.

Now Müller and Hummels should use their experience to help ensure the sporting turnaround in the two games against the USA and Mexico. In exactly what form, the two veterans themselves are still puzzling. “I’m ready when I’m called upon, but I actually have no idea,” replied Hummels when asked whether Nagelsmann had already informed him of the starting eleven nomination. However, this can be assumed given the fact that Nagelsmann had appointed him as a manager several times in the last few days and had also given him corresponding orders in direct discussions. “He expects me to take over the organization on the field and to take corrective action when things don’t work that way. A role that I’m happy to take on because it’s in my nature,” reported Hummels.

Müller’s standing is currently even less clearly defined. “I don’t have the feeling that you have to define my role in a big way. My role is what it has always been,” said Müller in an interview with media representatives on Thursday: “Julian knows me, so there are few question marks.” Müller was not automatically placed under Nagelsmann at FC Bayern. This situation is likely to continue for the time being, which of course does not allow any conclusions to be drawn as to what role the two warriors will play at the home European Championship. If they are named by Nagelsmann in the European Championship squad, it will be the last joint attempt to follow Maracana’s World Cup title with the European trophy.

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