Record Breaking Thomas Müller the Key to Bayern's Stunning Recovery

Thomas Müller
Thomas Müller has played an instrumental role in guiding Bayern Munich to an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Thomas Müller may have been the man to score Bayern Munich's 100th goal of the league campaign on the season's final day, but it was his assist for the game's opener which will enter the record books.

Bayern's number 25 collected Robert Lewandowski's layoff and perfectly weighted a bouncing ball into the path of the onrushing Kingsley Coman, taking out six Wolfsburg players with one simple pass. The Frenchman didn't need to take a touch before rifling the ball into the corner to bring Müller's Bundesliga assist tally to 21 for the season, the most ever recorded in the competition.

However, league records and title talk seemed the content of fanciful daydreams eight months ago. The 30-year-old was hauled off after an hour as Bayern suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt shortly before manager Niko Kovač was sacked.

Bayern were fourth in the table and Müller had fallen out of favour with the outgoing Kovač after starting as many league matches on the bench as on the pitch.

Following the season's conclusion, Müller reflected on this difficult period: "Autumn was not easy, both for the club and for me personally," as quoted by the German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung. "Therefore, besides my first championship, it may be the most special, the most intense, the most emotional. A lot of negative things happened at the beginning, where you worry."

While Kovač practically tossed Müller aside, the Croatian's replacement Hansi Flick has made a concerted effort to bring the squad's senior members back into the fold.

Thomas Mueller, Hansi Flick
Müller (L) has generously rewarded Hansi Flick's (R) faith in him this season | TF-Images/Getty Images

Müller has been particularly damning in his comparison between the two coaches since Kovač's departure, likening the lack of preparation in the approach of Flick's predecessor to going shopping at the supermarket without a list.

Given the sensational turnaround Flick has overseen during his short reign as Bayern manager, there has been no shortage of praise for the 55-year-old. However, Flick was quick to dish out the compliments himself, describing Müller as 'a player that would do any team good' and 'the coach's right-hand man' a few weeks after taking the top job.

While the topic of Müller's position inevitably involves a nod to the player's own unique description of his role as Raumdeuter - space interpreter - Flick has deployed him either on the right flank, or as one of a three in midfield.

Müller's contribution on the ball has deservedly earned him plaudits but the 30-year-old also puts in a significant shift when Bayern are (rarely) out of possession.

Flick's reinvigoration of Müller has been key to Bayern's success but so has his implementation of an effective press. The Bayern fan favourite thrives in the offensive transition. Müller often offers the first line of pressure and when the harrying has forced a turnover, he is particularly adept at rapidly finding the feet of teammate amid the chaos.

Given the frequency at which he finds himself on the scoresheet, that teammate is inevitably Robert Lewandowski. Eight of Müller's assists this term have found the back of the net via the Pole's head or boot. For comparison, Wolverhampton Wanderers boast the Premier League's most prolific partnership in the form of Adama Traoré and Raúl Jiménez with the latter laying on seven goals for his Mexican teammate.

Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne assisted 20 Bundesliga goals during the 2014/15 season at Wolfsburg | Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Müller's final assist for the first of Bayern's goals in their 4-0 thrashing of Wolfsburg took him beyond the record set by Kevin De Bruyne during his spell at the champions' vanquished final day opponents back in 2014/15.

With 16 Premier League assists to the Belgian's name this season, De Bruyne is embroiled in his own statistical battle as he trails Thierry Henry's record of 20 with seven games to go and the title already out of Manchester City's grasp.

Bayern wrapped up the Bundesliga title with two games to spare, allowing the club to shift focus towards the upcoming Champions League mini-tournament in August. Bayern still have the formality of a home visit from Chelsea - who they lead 3-0 on aggregate - before they take their place in Portugal but are already considered to be among the favourites.

The beauty of Flick's side is that they have such frightening strength across the team but Müller offers a layer of unpredictable creativity which has guided Bayern to such a stunning second half of the season. With Müller and his eye for an assist fresh for continent's prestigious crown, the campaign could get even better.