Thomas Müller is one player who can talk with authority about two of soccer’s most shocking results in recent history.
He was there when Germany stunned Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup, and he was there again on Friday when Bayern Munich routed Barcelona 8-2 in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Not only that, he also played a key role in both results by opening the scoring early in both matches.
Müller's 11th-minute goal put Germany en route to the thrashing of Brazil six years ago at the Mineirão Stadium, and his fourth-minute strike on Friday put Bayern on its way to the stunning win over Barcelona at the Stadium of Light. He also scored in the 31st minute in the Champions League quarterfinal.
The victory in Brazil led Germany to the World Cup final and the world title against Lionel Messi’s Argentina. The win against Messi’s Barcelona put Bayern in the Champions League semifinal against either Manchester City or Lyon, which play later Saturday.
The performance against Barcelona impressed Müller the most.
“In the win in Brazil, we didn’t have the same amount of control. Yes, we were good, but tonight (Friday) the way we dominated the game was ruthless,” Müller said. “It was a special night. We wanted to overwhelm them from the start, just like we have been doing in recent months.
“Obviously you can never shut off against a team like Barça, but we were dominant,” the 30-year-old Müller said. “Especially off the ball. It’s a big statement, but it’s the way we played as a team that really makes me happy.”
Müller wasn’t the only one present in both historic games. Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Jérôme Boateng also were in the Germany team against Brazil, and Bayern coach Hansi Flick was an assistant to Joachim Löw in the 2014 World Cup.
“We were relentless,” Neuer said. “We continued to attack. Obviously Barcelona are strong in attack and can score goals, but we kept going and didn’t let up. We wanted to score goals, and succeeded.”
Both Brazil and Barcelona were utterly overwhelmed early on. Brazil was losing 5-0 by the 29th minute in the city of Belo Horizonte, while the Catalan club was losing 4-1 by the 31st in Lisbon. None had answers for the high pressure and high intensity brought on by their German opponents.
Messi was covering his face in despair early in the first half in Lisbon as it became clear that Barcelona’s ball-possession style had no chance against Bayern’s more vertical and aggressive approach.
“The way they maintained such a high intensity over 90 minutes was sensational,” Flick said. “That’s our mentality, it’s what we’re all about. We knew we’d force the errors if we put them under pressure. We wanted to exploit that, and it couldn’t have worked out better.”
Barcelona and Brazil made uncharacteristic defensive mistakes under pressure and both looked stunned by the obvious superiority of their rivals. Brazil looked done after going down 5-0, as did Barcelona after falling behind 4-1, with the players' attitudes on the field indicating they had given up. Germany’s last two goals against Brazil came from the 69th onward, while Bayern closed its scoring with four goals from the 63rd onward.
“We had so much fun out there,” Müller said. “Barcelona have special players and we had to be even more aggressive, come back again and again.”
The disastrous loss to Germany cost the job of Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari at the time, and the same is expected to happen to Barcelona coach Quique Setién. The 8-2 drubbing is also likely to force a change in era at the Catalan club, which had already struggled this season with veterans such as Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Luis Suárez and Gerard Piqué.
"This today is unacceptable,” Piqué said.