Mario Götze′s omission no real surprise as Joachim Löw shows his hand | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 15.05.2018
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Mario Götze's omission no real surprise as Joachim Löw shows his hand

It's no secret that Germany have an embarrassment of riches. Despite the temptation to go with the man who scored the World Cup winner in 2014, Joachim Löw was left with little choice but to leave Mario Götze out.

As the names rolled across the screen at the announcement of Germany's 27-man provisional squad in Dortmund on Tuesday, the surprises were largely those of absence rather than selection.

Doubts over the fitness of Manuel Neuer and the recent personal choices of Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan never seriously threatened their places, meaning the selection of uncapped Freiburg striker Nils Petersen was the only real shock among a host of familiar faces.

Petersen may still miss out on Russia, with four players to be cut by June 4, but the man indelibly associated with Germany's 2014 World Cup win will definitely have the summer off. As indeed will Andre Schürrle, his current Borussia Dortmund teammate, and the man who provided the assist in Rio.

The break may even be good for a player who reached the pinnacle of his career at just 22 and whose descent since has been almost as swift as his rise.

His grace and vision came to the fore as he racked up 16 goals and 20 assists for Dortmund in all competitions in 2012-13 before agreeing a move to Bayern Munich, who BVB would meet in that season's Champions League final. 

Fall from grace

But that move only accelerated a downward spiral that reached its zenith on Tuesday. Despite a decent start in Bavaria, where he contributed 14 goals and 13 assists, Götze cut an increasingly marginalized figure as a series of injuries and an accompanying loss of form eventually saw him head back to the Signal Iduna Park.

Again, the move hasn't quite worked out. While he's played deeper in recent times, Götze has scored just twice in the Bundesliga this term and has struggled as much as his club. Indeed, it's a mark of Dortmund's regression that Marco Reus is their only representative in the squad.

Löw is known for his loyalty to players, as shown by the presence of Matthias Ginter, Mario Gomez and Neuer, who hasn't played since September, in his preliminary squad.

But even Löw's faith in the man who was once the golden boy of German football has been tested beyond its limits. After failing to score while played up front in Euro 2016, a combination of illness, injury and poor form have seen him picked by the national team boss for just 45 minutes of Germany's last 1,620.

For most national sides, the combination of history and the talent would be enough to earn selection. But with Leroy Sane, Özil, Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, Leon Goretzka, Thomas Müller and Reus as the options picked ahead of him, Götze can have little room for complaint.

Still room for a return

But, despite having packed more in to the last four years than most players do in a career, Götze is far from done. Löw said he "felt sorry" for the 25-year-old before adding that "this season he really wasn't in form - I hope he returns."

A summer of rest and recuperation, and perhaps even the jolt of missing out on Russia 2018, may yet prove more advantageous to Götze than it first appears. With a new coach set to take charge at BVB in the coming weeks, he may also find himself rejuvenated in the way that Brandt has since Heiko Herrlich took charge at Leverkusen at the start of the season.

Right now, that's likely to prove the scantest of consolations for Götze. But, for Löw and for Germany, the sheer depth of talent available means sentiment and history need not play a part in their World Cup title defense.

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