Manuel Veth –
Mario Götze is finally back in action for Borussia Dortmund. The 25-year-old played 61 minutes in his first Bundesliga game since January 29 when he played 24 minutes against Mainz. He then missed three games adductor problems before being diagnosed with a metabolic disorder ahead of matchday 23 of the 2016-17 season.
Shielded by the club and his family Götze completely disappeared from the scene. At some point, there was even a wild Twitter rumour that Götze, who scored the game winning goal for Germany at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, had retired from professional football. The rumour was just that, and in the early summer, Götze published a photo of himself jogging on social media. The message was clear the 25-year-old was ready to return to professional football.
By June it became apparent that Mario Götze would be part of Dortmund’s pre-season preparations under new BVB head coach Peter Bosz. When he did return, he looked slimmer and fitter than when he was first diagnosed with his sickness. Another aspect that was also clear was that he seemed seemingly more relaxed. Pictures from Dortmund’s pre-season tour in Asia show a smiling Götze, who enjoyed being back on the pitch.
Mario Götze Displayed a Positive Attitude During the Pre-Season
This attitude was confirmed in an interview with kicker in late July—speaking for the first time about his metabolic disorder Götze admitted that while he has the issue under control, he remains medicated. He also pointed out that it will take some time for him to regain his full match fitness.
This was also echoed by the training staff who limited Götze’s playing time in the pre-season friendlies never playing him more than 60 minutes. But aside from the limited playing time, something else became apparent.
Early on in his career, Mario Götze was often compared to Lionel Messi. In fact the constant comparisons to Messi—Joachim Löw famously told Götze at the World Cup final against Argentina to show the world that he was better than Messi—had perhaps even stifled his career. While Götze is a creative player, who can be dangerous up front, he is not the type of player that can play up front effectively—despite Löw’s desperate attempts to play him as a false nine.
Instead, Götze’s creativity and vision was always better suited further back in the field. Playing as a number 10 or even further back as a number eight highlight his ability to collect the ball deep and to use his vision to create chances for faster and agiler players. Peter Bosz has understood this and on matchday 1 used Mario Götze on the left-side in his 4-3-3 midfield.
With Nuri Sahin and Gonzalo Castro taking over much of the defensive duties Götze was given the creative freedom to roam the midfield and set in scene the attacking three of Maximilian Philipp, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic. In fact, it was Götze who made Pulisic fantastic start to the season possible.
The American wunderkind received much of the accolades following Dortmund’s 3-0 victory over VfL Wolfsburg. Pulisic had scored one goal and one assist and was a constant thorn in Wolfsburg’s defence. In reality, it was Götze, however, who made Pulisic stellar performance possible.
Mario Götze – Comeback Highlights new Role
In 61 minutes Götze played 33 passes with a pass accuracy of 80.5%. His pass efficiency is even more impressive when one considers that of the 12 passes he played in his half, 92% reached their mark. The lower accuracy in the attacking half (74%) is mostly down to the fact that Götze attempted many threw balls to the forward three. One of these passes in fact created Pulisic’s opening goal.
His passes aside Götze won four out of five duels had two shots, both of target, and attempted one dribble. Götze one dribble attempt stands out as the number reflects his new position. At Bayern under Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel Götze was placed right behind the attacking line. Here he was expected to play almost like a false nine creating chances by breaking through defensive lines through one-on-one situations. In his last game for Bayern Götze played right behind Robert Lewandowski as a number ten. The same was the case under Tuchel where he was used to playing right behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The classic number 10 position does, however, not exist in Peter Bosz system. Speaking on the Gegenpressing Podcast Borussia Dortmund’s ESPN correspondent Stefan Buczko pointed out that Götze now plays more like Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta.
It would certainly be a big step in Götze’s development if he could emulate the Barcelona legend. Playing in a deeper role would certainly shed the mantra of him needing to become Germany’s answer to Messi. Playing in his new role and getting match fit should now allow Götze to finally shed that stigma and become an important player for both club and country on his terms.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.