Champions League: Marin back in Germany to face Bayern Munich with point to prove | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.09.2019
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Champions League: Marin back in Germany to face Bayern Munich with point to prove

Marko Marin was once lauded as a future Germany star and featured for the country at the World Cup. Now 30, he returns to Germany to take on Bayern Munich with Red Star Belgrade following a largely unfulfilled career.

When Mesut Özil had his breakout season with Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, just prior to a big-money move to Real Madrid, he wasn't even voted the club's best outfield player by Germany's popular football magazine, Kicker.

That accolade went to Marko Marin.

Voted the country's best player under the age of 18 in 2007, heading to a World Cup aged 21 in 2010, and sealing a lucrative move to then Champions League winners Chelsea in 2012, the bite-sized playmaker seemed destined for lofty heights.

Marin and Özil's careers could not have diverted much more drastically, however, and now, almost a decade and a string of failed stints around Europe later, Marin is back in Germany hoping to go back to the future.

Marko Marin's career started with a bang at Werder Bremen (picture alliance/dpa)

Marko Marin's career started with a bang at Werder Bremen

Forgotten man

The now 30-year-old returns to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League with Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday, having starred in the club's return to the competition after a 26-year absence last season – including two assists in a famous 2-0 victory over eventual champions Liverpool.

Red Star face a tough group in their continuing quest to rub shoulders again with Europe's top tier, paired with Bayern, last year's finalists Tottenham, and Olympiakos in Group B.

Bayern in particulary will be on Marin's radar. He played youth football with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, and Jerome Boateng and will be relishing the chance to play on German soil for the first time since April 2012.

That summer Marin bid farewell to Werder Bremen and embarked on a new adventure in the Premier League with Chelsea, with greatness seemingly within his grasp. Instead, he faded into anonymity.

 Marko Marin (Getty Images/AFP/S. Stevanovic)

Marko Marin celebrates during Red Star Belgrade's 2-0 victory over Liverpool.

Unfulfilled promise

"Maybe [my career] could have been better, for sure,” Marin told Omnisport before the Bayern clash.

"There are some reasons. Maybe I wasn't patient enough in some situations. Injuries didn't help to make it even bigger.”

Marin looked set to be a major part of Joachim Löw's plans when he made two appearances at the 2010 World Cup. But while Özil, Müller, Boateng, Mario Götze, and Andre Schürrle emerged as the country's new stars, Marin's spark diminished. His last cap for Germany was against Sweden in November 2010.

Injuries were certainly a crucial factor in Marin's stalled career. He arrived at Chelsea injured, failed to break into the first team, and proceeded to experience similar frustrating periods of time on the treatment table or bench during loan spells at Sevilla, Fiorentina, Anderlecht, and Trabzonspor.

A transfer to Greek outfit Olympiakos in 2016 finally saw Marin rediscover a semblance of form – scoring 11 goals and assisting seven in 37 league matches – before being shipped out to Red Star amid little media attention.

"Who knows what would've happened if I stayed longer in Germany?” Marin told Omnisport.

"But I wouldn't have this experience with Red Star if this didn't happen.”

Marko Marin playing for Germany against Australia at the 2010 World Cup. (picture-alliance/dpa)

Marko Marin playing for Germany against Australia at the 2010 World Cup

Return to his roots

Marin is now enjoying his best spell of football in close to a decade, captaining his boyhood club (he was born in the old Yugoslav town of Gradiška to Bosnian-Serb parents) in the Champions League and receiving plaudits again on the back of winning the Serbian SuperLiga's player of the season.

"To play Champions League with [Red Star] is even more special. It's a very nice experience to bring the Champion League back to Serbia after so many years,” Marin said.

 "To feel what I feel at the moment, it's the best part of my career.”

Bayern goalkeeper Neuer has labeled Marin "the Messi of Belgrade" ahead of the Champions League opener and coach Niko Kovac has earmarked him as Red Star's danger man.

"They have very good footballers in their ranks. Marko Marin dictates the pace of play and is a key player," Kovac said.

Returning to Germany — the country he called home from the age of two — as a key player once again and leading Red Star to a famous result against the Bundesliga giants would be a fitting reunion.

It would go some way to writing a successful last chapter to a story that has been largely forgotten in his adopted homeland.

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