Mario Götze 19 Midfielder Borussia Dortmund
The South African World Cup had just ended. Spain were champions, Holland were unusual, Uruguay were fun and Germany were magnificent. Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira had made waves, joining Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philip Lahm as part of Joachim Löw’s upwardly mobile nationalmannschaft.
With Marco Reus, Toni Kroos, Marko Marin and a number of other talented young players ready to stand up and be counted as part of an exciting footballing future, the summer of 2010 was an optimistic time for Germany, as it remains now. Fine players, meticulously trained, technically gifted and with bright futures; a golden era is here.
And in Dortmund, a distinct buzz is gathering momentum. As wonderful as this group of talented young German footballers are, Borussia believe they have the best of the lot.
Just hearing the phrase ‘new Messi’ is usually enough to get our eyes rolling and, if we’re feeling particularly uncharitable, the deployment of a swift right hook may follow said quip. However, in this case, we can understand the comparisons and we’re not about to argue. When DFB Technical Director (and former Dortmund star) Matthias Sammer proclaimed that Mario Götze was one of the best young players he had ever seen, notice was duly taken.
Five brief appearances as a substitute during 2009-10 afforded a glimpse of what was to come from the Memmingem born, slightly built 17 year old. With quick feet, a high level of technical ability and a creative footballing brain, Götze was clearly going to do well as he matured. But few could have predicted the impact he would make during 2010-11.
One of the things that we love about the Bundesliga is its openness. Bayern Munich, with the largest budget and grandest designs, will always be in the mix when titles are awarded, but challengers can come from a fairly wide pool. No fewer than five different sides have scooped a Bundesliga crown (shield) over the last ten years and no team can lay claim to true domination of the decade.
Borussia Dortmund, under the skilled tutelage of Jürgen Klopp had finished sixth, and then fifth in previous years as 2010-11 dawned. A tilt at the top four was mooted in the media, but was Klopp’s side a little too inexperienced?
As the final whistle blew at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion following a 2-0 opening day home defeat against well fancied Bayer Leverkusen, there was little to suggest that the required consistency would be in place to propel Klopp’s side onward and upward. Götze had played the full ninety minutes but had shown little. Perfectly understandable, he had, after all, only played a sum total of 46 minutes in the Bundesliga prior to the match. Maybe next year eh?
Keeping faith with his talented young attacker a week later, Klopp’s side won 3-1 at Stuttgart, with Götze starring and scoring one of the goals. Dortmund never looked back.
Die Schwarzgelben would go on to win the next six matches, and would lose only four more times all season, eventually clinching the Bundesliga title by finishing seven points clear of Bayer Leverkusen, their tormenters on the opening day. The focal point of Dortmund’s title challenge was the masterful Götze, scoring eight times and laying on a further eleven for his colleagues. However the stats don’t really do Götze’s performance justice. He terrified defences right across Germany with his pace, ingenuity and knack for goals.
A first international cap arrived just over a year ago and Götze is now a central part of Joachim Löw’s plans for Euro 2012 and beyond. The youngster scored his first international goal against a Brazil side complete with Neymar in a friendly earlier this year in a game that laid down a clear marker for the next decade
Götze has started this season well, scoring four and providing four assists. It will be difficult for Dortmund, and perhaps young Mario, to overcome ‘second season syndrome’ and clinch a successive title, but with each week Götze’s game develops that little bit more and any talk of potential ability is long gone. This is happening now.
There is a clear indication that Götze is being honed for Euro 2012, a pivot and a razor sharp edge for an embryonic dominant Germany. You have been warned Spain.
"It is not possible to stop Mario Götze, he runs through opponents as though they aren't there” – Franz Beckenbauer
A Outstanding, joint top of the class. Show Europe how good you are in 2012.