A year after being dumped by Germany head coach Joachim Loew, Thomas Mueller is set to showcase why he is so important for Bayern Munich -- and Robert Lewandowski -- at Chelsea in the Champions League.
Alongside Erling Braut Haaland, Bayern's star striker Lewandowski is joint top-scorer in the Champions League with 10 goals going into the last 16, first-leg clash on Tuesday.
In order to keep him fresh, Mueller was a second-half replacement in Friday's 3-2 league win over bottom side Paderborn when Lewandowski netted twice.
The Poland striker is on a career-high 38 goals after 32 games in all competitions and is happiest with Mueller alongside him.
"It's easier with Thomas next to me, he helps me out a lot," Lewandowski has said of Mueller.
"We always have one player more in the penalty area when he plays, I have more space and not always two or three opponents against me."
It's no coincidence that Lewandowski is enjoying his highest goal tally just when Mueller's 14 assists in Germany's top flight also puts him near his personal best.
The 30-year-old is back to his best after significant setbacks for club and country in 2019.
Alongside fellow 2014 World Cup winners Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, Mueller was told last March he was no longer needed by Germany as Joachim Loew rebuilt his squad following the 2018 World Cup debacle.
But when Niko Kovac was sacked in November, caretaker coach Hansi Flick restored Mueller to the starting line-up, often at Coutinho's expensive, and he has flourished.
Mueller was superb in their recent 4-1 win at Cologne, drawing defenders to create goals for Kingsley Coman and Lewandowski as Bayern raced into a 3-0 lead after 12 minutes.
What makes Mueller unique is that he is neither a striker, nor an attacking midfielder, but describes himself as a 'Raumdeuter' -- an interpreter of space.
He is at his deadliest with perfectly-timed runs and quick passes so that his presence in the penalty area creates space for Lewandowski.