By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) — For 2017 German Champion Bayern Munich it is nothing more than a luxury problem when two of its best strikers battle for a place in the starting eleven. For James Rodriguez and Thomas Mueller, things look different as the month in advance of the 2018 World Cup decisively influence their performance at the most important tournament of international football.
The fact is, both need playing time to get in best shape and gain confidence. But in the system of Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes there only seems to be space for one of them at the time. Bayern’s offensive midfield is the side’s hot spot. For James and Mueller difficult challenges lie ahead. Both forwards are aware they have to perform well to be successful.
“In years of a World Cup, I was always able to perform well. So I am optimistic 2018 turns out to be a good year for me,” Mueller commented. 2010 in South Africa Mueller captured the World Cup top scorers crown achieving five goals.
Four years later the Bavarian-born striker ended up as the second (5 goals) behind his toughest club rival James who managed to score six goals as the tournament’s most successful scorer. Having scored ten World Cup goals, Mueller finds himself on position eight of the World Cup’ s top scorers list while Miroslav Klose is the number one with 16 goals.
“I fell well and I intend to go for all possible titles. We are strong enough as a team, and I have improved after getting more playing minutes under Jupp Heynckes,” James stressed. “When a team is working well and has the quality we have dreaming of winning the treble is making sense.”
The Colombian striker lately made clear he sees his future in Munich despite being there only on loan from Spanish giant Real Madrid until 2019. “I want to stay. Munich is my future,” James said, hoping Bayern will take advantage of their buying option demanding additional 40 million euro.
James and Mueller need further improvement to secure their position as both couldn’t deliver an overall satisfying first half of the 2017/2018 Bundesliga season. Mueller only scored four goals in 20 league games and provided six assists. James just scored twice and delivered two assists.
Both had problems under former Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti and improved when Heynckes took over last October. “It is easy to explain. I play more often, and it is the rhythm that is making me better,” James said.
Mueller sees his chance to improve when playing in midfield behind the front line to be able to provide his unorthodox game style. “I see myself in another role, more the one coming from behind and not the spear-heading one,” Mueller told German media.
Bayern having signed center striker Sandro Wagner from TSG Hoffenheim is improving Mueller’s chances to fill out his favorite position in midfield. “I am stronger when playing behind the first line and the game in front of me,” Mueller said.
Bayern coach Heynckes is happy about the competition, but does not see a problem for Mueller and James. “We need a strong competition in the squad to be successful. We want a perfect start, and we have ambitious goals,” the 72-year-old commented. Heynckes told his players to concentrate fully. The performance of each will decide about the playing time.
“No matter whom we are talking about, they all need to be at a top level to be part of the team,” Heynckes emphasized. All of his key performers would get the chance to show their skills, “but sometimes they have to be patient for the good of the team.”