Thomas Müller says he expects Germany's UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final against Greece in Gdansk on Friday to be a tight affair.
The FC Bayern München player featured for all but six minutes of his side's perfect Group B campaign and believes the Nationalmannschaft's impressive form means teams are setting out their stall to stifle the attacking threat posed by Mario Gomez and Mesut Özil et al.
"Over the past couple of years in qualifying we've earned ourselves a reputation for being one of the favourites," said the 22-year-old. "That's why, in general, teams defend well against us – at least they certainly don't start with four attackers."
Müller is yet to light up the tournament in the same way he did the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, where he finished joint top scorer with five goals. "As an attack-minded player, it's natural that people judge you by the number of goals you score," said Müller.
"The most important thing is that me and the coach are pleased with my performances. It's my job to help the team, to play my part. I've provided a number of assists lately."
Indeed, besides scoring important goals, such as last month's opener in the UEFA Champions League final against Chelsea FC, Müller has been a regular source of ammunition for his Bayern and Germany colleagues alike – so much so that he remains his country's first choice on the right of midfield ahead of emerging talents like Marco Reus, André Schürrle and Mario Götze.
"We're a team," said Müller, encouraging the competition within the squad. "We have more than 11 players. We've always said we have a strong squad and we've got nothing against capitalising on that if it means improving. There's no tension or in-fighting. We have a very good atmosphere in the team."
The wiry winger has also had an eye on what is happening outside of Germany's base in Gdansk and has been impressed by the quality on show elsewhere. "The teams are on a very equal level here," he added. "There are no opponents like those you might meet in the group stage of a World Cup.
"Maybe that's why our play hasn't looked as good as it did back then. That said, when I think back to the World Cup, aside from the Australia match [which Germany won 4-0], we were hardly playing champagne football then either."
It also took until the latter stages of South Africa 2010 for Müller's own performances to ignite and Germany fans will be hoping Friday's tie will prove the catalyst for some more prolific displays in Poland and Ukraine.
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