For the second time in the last two World Cups, Germany has crashed out during the group stage as football across the country has once again been rocked by poor performances on the international stage as Die Mannschaft’s 4-2 win over Costa Rica was not enough to secure passage into the round of sixteen.
The inquest into another horrendous tournament performance, this time under Hansi Flick, is sure to begin this very evening after the former Champions League-winning manager Bayern Munich has failed to better the result by his predecessor and former mentor Joachim Löw in 2018. But how Germany manages to move past the disappointment will have to be done without star midfielder Thomas Müller after the iconic figure has announced his retirement from international service.
Müller has been an immense figure in the German football landscape after becoming a key member at boyhood club Bayern Munich after first breaking into the senior picture in 2008-09 before immediately being viewed as a vital piece of the puzzle just one season later.
Since then, Müller has gone on to achieve every possible trophy on offer for both club and country since his international debut for Germany in 2010 which saw him score 5 goals in his first 12 caps that calendar year.
He will perhaps be remembered most fondly for his efforts in 2014 when his 10 goals in 15 caps included five goals at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil while being a key reason why Germany lifted its fourth World Cup.
All told, Müller achieved 44 goals in a Germany shirt, putting him seventh all-time and just and just three away from pulling level with Rudi Völler and Jürgen Klinsmann while also being capped on 121 occasions, good enough for joint-fourth all-time along with former Bayern teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger.
It is an unfortunate end to a truly nation-defining international career for the Bavarian-born and bread star, and many may look to his poor utilization as a number 9 in Flick’s tactical schematic this winter as one of the key reasons why Germany has bowed out of the competition far earlier than their prestige suggests is possible.
That notwithstanding, few have helped change German football both in the trophy cabinet and on the tactics board after “radio Müller” helped usher in a new tactical role - Raumdeuter - that Müller championed to great effect. Though he is not the same as he once was, he will nevertheless be immensely difficult to replace, but Germany can be confident moving forward given the wealth of young talent ready to step into the breach.