Muller vs Sancho: Who Will Claim the Assist King Title?

Germany Thomas Muller
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The Creative kings of Germany

Whilst Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are fighting for the Bundesliga title, their creative marvels, Jadon Sancho and Thomas Muller, are enjoying a fascinating race to the top of the Bundesliga assists chart.

Muller is currently leading the way with 16 assists, but Sancho is right on his tail, just one assist behind on 15. With nine games left to go the race is going to be an exciting one and every game is going to count and both players will rue any missed opportunities to climb up assist table.

Whilst there isn’t much to separate them in the assists chart, that’s where the similarities between the two end. A decade separates Muller (30) and Sancho (20) in age and the gap between the two in terms of style is even bigger.

Muller has earned himself the title of ‘raumdeuter’ which translates to space interpreter, as his game revolves around expert-timing and cleverly utilising the space left by defenders. Sancho, on the other hand, is a rock and roll-esque player. A lively winger who uses his lighting pace and tricky dribbling to devastating effect, often leaving defenders red-faced.

Both methods have been effective thus far with both men finding themselves at the top of the creative charts, but only one can prevail. Here, we will pit the two against each other and see who could finish the season as the Bundesliga’s chief creative force.

The Roles they play

There is no doubting the importance of both Sancho and Muller to their clubs and their statistics tell the story of just how big their contributions are. Whilst they share similar stats in the creative department though, their roles are far from similar.

Sancho has spent this season as Dortmund’s key attacking force, not just with his creative contributions but his goalscoring too. The 20-year-old is the club's top scorer with 14 in the league this season, meaning he is leading the way in both Dortmund’s goalscoring and assists charts and has been involved in more goals than anybody. He has contributed to over 40% of Dortmund’s league goals this season, cementing his place as their standout player.

Muller, on the other hand, is much more understated. Despite his plethora of assists, the German does not stand out in the same way as Sancho. This could be down to his style of play; Muller is more interested in helping his team and giving them structure as opposed to grabbing goals or having the spotlight on him.

Not only that, but Muller is part of a team that is full of contributing players, most notably Robert Lewandowski. The Poland international has 25 league goals this season and is arguably the best striker in the world right now and having him in front of you means that if you give him the ball, your chances of getting an assist skyrocket.

However, Sancho is finishing the season with the same luxury that Muller has and now has a striker who is sure to grab goals for his side. Dortmund’s January signing of Erling Haaland means that the attacking workload is now shared. Since joining in January the striker has bagged nine goals in just eight Bundesliga appearances, whilst Sancho has grabbed six assists in that time.

Despite both players being utilised very differently within their teams the results are the same, bags of assists. They have both shown that there is no right or wrong way to be a creative player, and whilst very different it is impossible to split the two in terms of their creativity and effectiveness.

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Who do they have left to play?

With just ten games to go, each teams run-in is one of the key factors when trying to determine who will finish at the top of the assists chart. So, who has the easiest run-in and which player has fared best in the past against their upcoming opponents?

Bayern’s end to the season, on paper, is slightly trickier than Dortmund’s. The Bavarians are still to play Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach, who issued Bayern with two of their four losses this season, as well as having to play Dortmund.

Dortmund have an immediate three-game stretch against Schalke, Wolfsburg and Bayern that will prove difficult. However, they have a run of four games against sides in the bottom six which could provide a great opportunity to pick up points. Not only that but the January arrival of Haaland could give them a good chance of overcoming the stern tests at the start of the run. 

What Muller has going against him is that his assists are stretched over fewer games than Sancho, perhaps indicating less consistency. The German has grabbed half of his 16 assists in just four games, getting two assists in a 4-1 triumph over FC Koln, two in a 6-0 dismantling of Hoffenheim as well as two in each of Bayern’s 4-0 victories over Dortmund and Dusseldorf. Bayern, and Muller, will only have the pleasure of playing one of those teams again and that’s Dortmund. Another 4-0 victory will be a big ask, so it’s hard to predict where Muller’s assists could come from.

On the flipside, Sancho has managed to grab an assist against almost every side in the league. Of all the teams that Dortmund have played twice this season, Frankfurt are the only side not to be on the receiving end of a Sancho assist. Whether it be in easy games, tough games, wins or losses, Sancho has no difficulty leaving his mark. It is exactly that kind of record that will stand him in good stead for the remainder of the season.

Who Will Claim the Assist King Crown?

It’s difficult to give a concrete answer, the final stretch of the season is always full of surprises so we can’t be sure of results repeating themselves. One thing we do know for sure is if Bayern don’t produce the same huge score lines as earlier in the season, Muller might be at risk. If his side need some inspiration, the German doesn’t appear to be the man to provide it. 

Sancho, however, has proven to be Dortmund’s man of the moment on many occasions throughout the season. Regardless of how the rest of his side performs, the young winger always looks set to produce a moment of brilliance. This is why, even if the end to the season does throw some banana skins in Dortmund’s direction, Sancho looks certain to carry on with and even improve his creative form.

The final stretch of the season is always full of twists and turns, neither player can be counted out. However, with his ability to produce moments of magic from scratch and the addition of talisman Haaland, the money would be on Sancho becoming the Bundesliga’s assist king this season just like the last.

By Jak Richardson

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