If he features in both semi-final legs, and Bayern overhaul Real Madrid, Thomas Müller will have the chance to make his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance in this season’s final in Kyiv, but the 28-year-old is not a man to get carried away.
On facing Real Madrid in the semi-finals
These teams don’t give anything away and the quality of the individual players is extremely high. During my youth there were always meetings between Bayern and Real Madrid. Bayern won some and lost some. They’ve always been close and exciting games, so both us and Real Madrid have respect for each other.
Two great teams are up against each other in a semi-final and that always means high tension, because everyone is aware of the importance of the occasion; every good bit of play and every mistake can decide the match. You can certainly sense the tension in the stands. Of course, we never give up, but other teams have that philosophy too.
On Jupp Heynckes’ treble-winning 2013 side
In terms of the history of the club, the treble is something extremely special. In 118 years, we’ve won the treble once, with one coach: Jupp Heynckes. It would obviously be unbelievable for one coach to achieve that twice, so the motivation is very high. [The fact Heynckes reached the final in both of his previous #UCL seasons is] an insane statistic.
Winning the Champions League gives you a status and it is the best there is, but the end of the Champions League final isn’t that different from other wins. The pressure drops, but I have often said that as a fan I remember Bayern’s win in 2001 more vividly than the one in 2013 [when I played]. As a player, you go out in every final to win the game. You have to do your part and, if you do that, you feel relieved that you succeeded. If you have to watch a game, you are more nervous.
On the UEFA Champions League:
The Champions League has always been the crown, with the best teams playing there, particularly the previous season’s domestic champions. It’s been a stage for attacking football. Teams like to have the ball, but they often get pushed back into their own penalty area. If you look at the quality of the players, that is the beauty of the game in the Champions League. I have been lucky enough to play in the Champions League every year.
The motivation is always to win the next game. It is not important that you are a three-time champion, or only once, or that you haven’t won the trophy yet. You just want to be better than your opponent. We haven’t won [the UEFA Champions League] in the last five years. We are very hungry. As players who have been professionals for years, we can play for a long time if we can stay motivated.