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Mario Gotze has experienced a fall from grace

Thursday 16th February 2017
Mario Gotze will be forever remembered as a national hero for scoring the decisive goal in a World Cup final. The German midfielder also once played an integral role in a successful Borussia Dortmund side, but times have since altered. As after a disappointing past 18 months, Gotze is no longer fawned upon.

The World Cup is the most prestigious football competition on the globe, every player dreams of leaving an everlasting impression on the tournament, and Gotze delivered in spectacular style at Brazil 2014. During the lead up to the final, he scored against Ghana in the group stages but then saw his time on the pitch limited. Germany reached the semi-finals and demolished the host nation, 7-1, which set up an encounter with another South American superpower, Argentina. Although Gotze began the game as a substitute he came on in the 88th minute, and during extra-time volleyed the ball across the goalkeeper to find the bottom corner. The precocious talent had created a moment in his career that will never be equalled, one that settled the destination of the Jules Rimet trophy and witnessed him crowned as the darling of German football.
From a young age, the Germany international grew up learning his trade at Borussia Dortmund. He made his senior debut in 2009 and during the coming seasons, Gotze played a crucial role for Jurgen Klopp's side. In 2010-11, Dortmund claimed the Bundesliga title, the club's first for nine years, and they added further silverware the following season by being crowned champions for the second successive time, in addition to lifting the DFB Pokal. Gotze was now at the peak of his powers, and another impressive 12 months saw him help his side advance to the final of the 2012-13 Champions League, only to lose against their bitter enemies, Bayern Munich - a team that tempted Germany's rising star to join them for the start of the next campaign.

The midfielder arrived at the Allianz Arena with high expectations, a fee of £31 million made him the most expensive German player ever at the time, but his period in Munich failed to go according to plan. Although Gotze maintained a decent goalscoring record and collected his share of winner's medals, including three Bundesliga titles and two domestic cups, his third season with the Bavarians left him frustrated and often watching from the sidelines. After appearing in just 14 games under Pep Guardiola, with a loss of form and injuries both contributing factors, Gotze's reputation plummeted. A disappointing European Championships in France, where he failed to make an impact and lost his place in Joachim Low's side, persuaded the playmaker that a change was required. A return to Dortmund beckoned.
Gotze arrived back at the Westfalenstadion after a three-year absence, costing the club £10 million less than the price they originally sold him, so where did it go wrong at Bayern? The midfielder's superb technical ability, creative instinct, as well as his excellent passing and dribbling skills, have never been in question. During three full seasons playing at both Dortmund and Bayern, where he amassed 111 appearances for each club, Gotze found the net 31 times and provided 44 assists for BVB, while scoring 36 for the Bavarians with 24 assists.

Although his scoring record slightly improved after his high-profile switch, for a player with the potential to become one of the world's greatest playmakers - who can be deployed on either the left, right, or in the centre, there was a significant reduction in the number of assists Gotze provided. To some extent, injuries prevented him from showcasing his talent, as he missed six months of action during his time at the Allianz Arena, but the tribulations he faced were also due to never fully settling at the Munich club.

Reported by the Daily Mail after his return to Dortmund, Gotze had this to say regarding his initial exit from the club.

With the experience I have now, I would make the decision [to leave Dortmund] at a later stage, but I wanted to take the risk at the time and make the next step. Looking back at it, I would have made a different decision now.

Gotze admitted it was a mistake leaving his childhood club to link up with their most fierce rivals; however, seven months into this season, he has failed so far to make an impact on his Dortmund return. In 11 Bundesliga appearances, the German has just one goal and a single assist. He's not performing to the standards expected, which resulted in him losing his place in Thomas Tuchel's side and beginning every league game since the winter break among the substitutes. BVB sit fourth in the table, trailing leaders Bayern, the much-maligned RB Leipzig, and Frankfurt, they are also in danger of being eliminated from the Champions League after narrowly losing the first leg away at Benfica. Dortmund are desperate for their talented prodigal son to steer them to former glory.
At 24 years old, Gotze has plenty of time to reclaim his place among the game's elite attacking midfielders. With 67 caps for Germany to his name, five Bundesliga titles, and a World Cup winner's medal, he also has the credentials to achieve that feat. Although the Dortmund man currently lacks confidence, which is affecting his performances, the undeniable ability he possesses means reviving his career in the near future is entirely possible. If the player, who is often referred to as the ‘German Messi', can find a way to rediscover his best form, the footballing world will then be justified in returning Mario Gotze on to a pedestal.
Danny Glendenning

Passions include reading, sport, and nights out with friends. A football fanatic whose writing career began in May 2016. Now 30 years old, lives in South Yorkshire - local team is Doncaster Rovers, although heart lies with Arsenal. Contributing editor for It's Round And It's White. Current claim to fame is an interview with Ron Atkinson. Always looking for work, either editing or writing. Contact via email: Dannysg1988@outlook.com. Or Twitter: @DannySG1988.



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