Munich - Averaging a goal every hour and with a Bundesliga-leading six strikes to his name so far in 2015/16, FC Bayern München forward Thomas Müller travels to promoted SV Darmstadt 98’s Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor on Matchday 5 in the form of his life.
A closer look at the statistics behind the quietly superlative displays of the Bundesliga’s inimitable Raumdeuter (space interpreter) highlights the 26-year-old’s growing importance to the Bayern cause.
Since making his top-flight debut under Jürgen Klinsmann in August 2008, Müller has chalked up an incredible 77 goals and 76 assists in 201 Bundesliga outings. During that time, he has been the model of consistency, finishing five of his six Bundesliga campaigns - not including his debut season - on double figures for both goals and assists.
Last term, he had a direct hand in 27 of Bayern’s 80 Bundesliga goals - a personal best - but just four matches into 2015/16, the seasoned Germany international is already well on his way to blowing those numbers out of the water as Pep Guardiola’s insatiable ensemble look to become the first team in history to win four successive Bundesliga titles.
After grabbing a brace on the opening day of the season in a 5-0 rout of Hamburger SV, Müller has added to his tally in wins over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Bayer 04 Leverkusen (another double) and FC Augsburg: a game in which he not only converted an injury-time winner from the penalty spot, but also set up Robert Lewandowski’s equaliser 14 minutes earlier. Another brace followed this week in the UEFA Champions League away at Olympiacos FC.
Indeed, aside from Müller’s impressive haul, the understanding the Bundesliga’s man of the moment shares with his Polish strike partner in crime has been integral to the champions’ ominously assured start to their title defence. Between them, Bayern’s maverick front two have weighed in with 40 shots on goal and are responsible for nine of the club’s 12 league strikes in 2015/16. Not since the days of Roy Makaay and Michael Ballack at the same juncture in 2005/06 have so many of die Roten’s goals come from just two players.
Above all, however, last weekend’s derby triumph ensures second-placed Bayern remain one of just two sides - along with current leaders Borussia Dortmund - to have won all four of their Bundesliga assignments so far this term. While the Klassiker combatants do not meet until Matchday 8, history suggests that as long as at least Müller keeps scoring, it should only be a matter of time before the record German champions usurp their great rivals at the top of the standings.
There are countless reasons why Bundesliga sides have been asking themselves the decade-long question of how to stop Bayern, but with the Bavarian giants victorious in their last 41 Bundesliga matches in which Müller has found the net, putting the shackles on the club’s ostensible win-guarantor could be half the battle.