On paper, everything looks perfect for Germany. They qualified for the quarterfinals against France without a lot of difficulty, with the exception of a miserable first half against Algeria. They have scored nine goals, and only conceded three.
Yet the German side has come under fire from the nation's media, who bemoan the centre-back four as well as the harmless display in the final third. The 2010 World Cup squad and their fresh, counter-attacking style still receives praise.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Muller trashed those comparisons. "We are much better than back then, it would be ridiculous to insist otherwise," said the German forward.
"We did not have the quality to bring through our match. We had to sit deep and wait for the counters. Against Argentina (a 4-0 win in the 2010 quarterfinal) we chased (Lionel) Messi with three players."
"We have taken a huge step: We are much more commanding (than) in 2010," Muller added.
Muller has four goals at the 2014 World Cup, but failed to add another one against Algeria, with his best chance coming off a header late in the second half. "That's our flaw. I also could have taken care of getting the job done within 90 minutes with that header," he said, referring to the fact that Germany needed extra time to beat Algeria.
However, Muller believes the criticism is largely unjustified, especially the way it has been framed.
"I can live with substantial and sporting criticism. But I can't take the manner of it," Muller said. "You get the impression that we have to apologize for making it to the quarterfinal." The Bayern Munich forward would be disappointed if the road for Germany does not end in the Maracana, as the team feel anything short of a World Cup trophy would be a let down.
"I will only be satisfied when I return home with the title. I play at FC Bayern, we have played at the highest level for years. I could not just say that I am satisfied after losing a final. I won't board the plane back home with a smile."
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