However, the champions were surprisingly beaten at home by newly-promoted Hertha Berlin on Saturday. There was one man absent who will be present at Signal Iduna Park tonight when they take on Arsenal in the Champions League.
Mario Gӧtze was suspended on Saturday (after an extremely harsh sending off against Bayer Leverkusen).
The “German Messi” (according to newspaper STERN) has been linked to every top club around Europe after a spectacular season last year for Borussia Dortmund.
Six goals and fifteen assists in the Bundesliga is an astronomical return from a then-18-year-old playmaker. Gӧtze, though, is no ordinary player. He has been on Borussia Dortmund’s books since the age of nine. Before then, he played for Eintracht Hombruch, also based in Dortmund. In an interview with Goal.com, his youth coach Christain Droese gave his former player a glowing reference.
Having coached him between 1998 and 2001, Droese said, “Mario was a player one could not really each anything to because he played football with an intuitive instinct.”
To be even mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi, having an intuitive instinct is a basic requirement. His direct dribbling demonstrates this. He also knows the right moment to release the ball when in attacking positions.
Gӧtze is most comfortable as an attacking midfielder. He can play just behind the striker or on the left or right wing. In Jurgen Klopp’s 4-2-3-1, he has looked adept as part of the attacking midfield trio alongside Kevin Großkreutz and Japanese import Shinji Kagawa. Gӧtze made such an impression last season that he was called up to the Germany squad three months into the season. He and Bayer Leverkusen forward André Schurrle became the first Germans to be capped who had been born since the fall of the Berlin Wall. He has also acquired other accolades, though – Gӧtze has won two Fritz Walter medals, which are awarded to the best German players at under-17, under-18 and under-19 levels.
What is frightening on an international level is the amount of talented young attacking players Germany boasts at the moment. Schurrle, Groβkreutz, Lewis Holtby, Toni Kroos, Marco Reus and Marko Marin should all be pinpointed alongside Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller, who have already made names for themselves on the international stage.
In terms of the conveyor belt of German talent, Gӧtze is certainly of the highest quality.
It is worth taking note of something else his former coach Droese said.
“Players these days leave too soon,” believes Droese, who also added that Gotze “would be well advised to stay at [Borussia Dortmund] for a long time.”
This is unlikely. If Barcelona or Manchester United come calling, it will be hard to turn down their overtures.
Nevertheless, Gӧtze will probably play out at least the remainder of this season under the stewardship of Dortmund chief Jurgen Klopp.
Arsene Wenger should be particularly wary especially when you consider Arsenal’s defending of late. As the Schwarzgelben (Black and Yellows) proved on Saturday, they are significantly better off when Mario Gӧtze is in their side.
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