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Legendary or simply memorable: Mario Götze's defining year

Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich faced more criticism, particularly when it came to the success of the season and Mario Götze. The attacker, his head coach and the club face a defining transitional period.

The dust has settled, somewhat in Munich. Realism is perhaps creeping in. It's just not possible to win it all every season. Making two semifinals and winning the Bundesliga still represents a good league campaign, regardless of ambition, bank balance or squad size.

Germany head coach Joachim Löw agreed, opting out of the choir of voices suggesting Bayern had endured rather than enjoyed this season. "Bayern have had a strong season. They comfortably sealed the league title early on, and made the semifinals of the German Cup and the Champions League. They played impressive football over long periods of time. We can all be very proud of Bayern," said Löw in an interview on the German FA website.

Pep Guardiola told his players after the Champions League exit to Barcelona that he was proud, but the head coach also revealed that it had been a year of truth. Man management, injuries, tactics - Guardiola has had to learn a great deal this year, but so have the players - none more so than Mario Götze.

Weight of expectation

"Until recently Mario was still the best Götze of all time, everyone's World Cup hero - and now everything is bad," added Löw. "Nobody can fulfill such expectations. Mario is an exceptional talent, a player who can make a difference. For me without doubt he is one of the best footballers in the world."

Sadly though, it has been a long time since the 37 million euro man snatched from Borussia Dortmund's hearts has made the difference. Even Bayern Munich legend Franz Beckenbauer recently called on him to grow up, implying he was too meek. Ever since scoring the winner for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, the 22-year-old has been struggling with the enormous weight of expectation on his shoulders. While the light-footed attacker appeared for a total of just under 20 minutes overall against Barcelona, he only failed to start in one other Champions League game this season. Guardiola has room for him, but it seems unclear to both onlookers and Guardiola himself just how effective Götze is when he plays in Guardiola's current system.

Playing behind the striker in a side perfecting the transitional style of play, Götze was a constant source of inspiration and innovation at Dortmund. His decision to follow his career path and work for the head coach that made Lionel Messi what he is today has so far proved an unyielding venture. Not in terms of trophies - two Bundesliga titles and a German Cup are more than pal Marco Reus can brag about - but his development has stagnated, particularly if Messi's heights were Götze's aim.

What lies ahead is a period of transition. Guardiola has one more season to add depth to the squad, sort out his ageing midfield and have a final crack at the Champions League title. At just 22 and with two more years left on his Bayern contract, Götze has far more time on his hands. What he does next will likely be the difference between him being one of the greatest players or just one that won Germany the World Cup. If this was Guardiola's year of truth, next season must be one of deliverance. And the same applies to Götze.

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