Muller: '2018 crop better than World Cup-winning squad'

Germany's Thomas Muller isn't in the mood to dwell on the team's shock defeat to Austria in the pre-World Cup friendly.

Thomas Muller (C) in action during the pre-World Cup training camp   -  AFP

Thomas Muller insisted that Germany's shock 1-2 reverse against Austria in the pre-World Cup friendly wasn't a reflection of his side's ability as it continues to prepare for the title defence.

The match in Klagenfurt saw no. 1 goalkeeper Manuel Neuer return to first team action for the first time since September from injury for the 2014 champion.

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"We tested out a lot of things against Austria and we made several changes during the game," the Bayern Munich attacker told media persons on Wednesday. "You ought to remember that we’ve only trained together once this year, for ten days in March, where we had a really good match against Spain. Therefore, we are preparing for the weeks ahead with a lot of confidence."

Joachim Low's side will take on fellow World Cupper Saudi Arabia in its last friendly before it heads to Russia. "We want to leave our mark in Frankfurt. The belief in our ability is absolutely unaffected. I’m not one to read too much into the results of friendlies. Only the important games really matter," said Muller.

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The final 23-man squad features 13 members of the Confederations Cup win last summer giving Germany a youthful look, which according to Muller is better than the 2014 crop. "Individually, without a doubt. We have several players at the peak of their powers. We’re looking forward to the tournament. I can’t wait. But, football has developed considerably. Other countries have also come on leaps and bounds and their players have become much more technically refined," he said.

A veteran of two World Cup appearances and 90 caps, Muller is also keen to bring his experience on board to help Germany continue to play its progressive brand of football. "We have become a team who looks to stay on the ball, who plays a short-passing game with a lot of movement in spaces in the middle of the park. My personal role is not much different from that in 2014 in Brazil. At my first tournament in 2010, however, where I was the new kid on the block, I just tried to do my job. Today, given my experience, I try to influence the other players positively, to have the big picture in mind," he said.

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Muller, who has 10 World Cup goals under his belt, believes defending the title won't be much different from chasing it. "You play the same amount of games. The opponents are no easier. However, the level of expectation is different. Also, apart from our fans, the rest of the footballing world wants Germany knocked off the throne. Jogi Löw has often said that we’re “the hunted”. A match against the World Champions is always any team’s biggest of the year," he said.