When he scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final, Mario Götze looked set to be one of the world's best players. But with Russia 2018 looming, Tuesday's game may be one of his last chances to re-establish himself.
After almost a year of absence, Mario Götze has finally made his comeback to the German national squad. However, the Dortmund midfielder had to watch from the bench as Germany played out a goalless draw against England at Wembley on Friday night. His much-anticipated return to “Die Mannschaft” is likely to happen in Tuesday’s friendly against a high-caliber French team.
“I feel very, very good. I believe I’m at 100 percent,” Götze assured reporters during a press conference last week. The 25-year-old’s metabolic illness sidelined him for large parts of last season but he has already featured in eight Bundesliga matches this year with Dortmund.
Nevertheless, Götze is yet to fully recapture his old form - he's failed to score in 12 appearances for his club this term.
While Götze’s absence pained many Germany fans, the national team didn't feel the loss quite so keenly. Germany haven't lost a single match so far in 2017 and won the Confederations Cup earlier this year with a young squad who were relatively inexperienced on the international stage.
“We have a performance hierarchy, anyone could earn a spot in the team through good performances,” said German midfielder Toni Kroos.
Competition for places in the German national team is at an all-time high. For Götze, proving that he deserves a spot in the World Cup squad for Russia will be one of his biggest challenges.
“We have good alternatives - we have about 30 or 40 players who could easily attend the World Cup,” added Kroos.
The Real Madrid midfielder is not exaggerating. Coach Joachim Löw will have a tough time shaving the list of World Cup and Confederations Cup winners down to only 23 names.
“Football goes on, my life goes on.”
Despite scoring that famous goal against Argentina in 2014, Götze is aware that there is fierce competition among his peers and making the most out of the upcoming game might be crucial if he wants to earn a spot in the squad.
“Of course it’s a great memory to look back to but it’s now 2017 and the 2018 World Cup is just around the corner. Football goes on, my life goes on,” said Götze about his World Cup winner.
Luckily for him, people have not forgotten his goal at the World Cup nor his talent. Liverpool and former Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp recently named Götze as the best player he has ever coached. Praise has not been limited to Klopp, key figures in the German national team's staff have also voiced their support for the Dortmund midfielder.
"I think it's a good thing that he's taken his time to recover. It's not easy to be so patient as a young man," said team manager Oliver Bierhoff.
Whether he plays the full 90 minutes against France or once again sits on the bench, his talent and history are such that Löw will always have plenty to consider with Götze.