Dortmund is blessed with so much talent – but coach Lucien Favre keeps dropping him. His destination could now be Italy.
Mario Götze had just sat back in his seat on the grandstand, which is currently the substitute bench, 85 minutes had been played, Borussia Dortmund led 2-0 at VfL Wolfsburg safely. And Götze shook his head in disbelief as you shake your head when you no longer understand the world. His coach had changed five times, but the 2014 World Cup hero was never called. He was allowed to take a seat again like a youngster who can be happy to be in the squad. There wasn’t too much to interpret what Götze’s face behind the obligatory corona protective mask was supposed to say.
Dortmund’s sports director Michael Zorc had announced the close farewell to Götze before the game on television: “We have agreed not to continue the cooperation.” It is the best for both sides. A good conversation had been held, Götze was “a good boy”, he would “become very important for us this season”. Diplomacy sounds like that. But at the latest after Götze’s senseless warm-up in front of empty ranks in Wolfsburg, it is clear that the scenario is no longer very likely. Coach Lucien Favre was able to change five times due to the Corona special rule: he brought a 17-year-old (Giovanni Reyna), a 19-year-old (Leo Balerdi), a 20-year-old (Jadon Sancho), and also a 32-year-old (Marcel Schmelzer) . There was no use for the 27-year-old Götze.
The game itself was as you feared in advance that ghost games could be: footballing okay, but you didn’t have to see it. After a good half an hour there was a brilliant Dortmund move, initiated by Julian Brandt, who is allowed to play at BVB what Mario Götze had been expected a long time ago. Raphael Guerreiro used the confusing, quick combination to 1-0. Afterwards, half of the thoughts seemed to be in the collective subconscious of the Borussia already on Tuesday against the leaders FC Bayern. Only surprisingly late, after 75 minutes, Jadon Sancho accelerated again in midfield in a counter attack, with speed and smoothness, and Achraf Hakimi scored the 2-0. That was it. Game decided, strength metered, with only two really good scenes to win: Dortmund’s second half account now shows 27 out of 30 possible points.
Götze could no longer have contributed to the upswing. Most recently, his trainer had given him an accompanying clause (“you have to tell the truth”) that he simply did not fit into the current system. At the end of the first half of the season, Favre had – as you hear, under a lot of pressure from the team council and management – switch to a flexible 3-4-3: with two full-backs who are in possession of the ball and act as additional wingers and only when they are in possession of the opponents to defenders will. Before that, two more defensive midfielders usually play, such as Axel Witsel and Emre Can or, alternatively, Thomas Delaney and Mahmoud Dahoud in the last two games. Speed dribblers like Thorgarn Hazard, Jadon Sancho or Giovanni Reyna are now on the winger post, where Götze made his early start into professional career under coach Jürgen Klopp.
For a while Götze could hope that a change of coach would improve his chances again. Dortmund spun for a while in the first half of the season, trailing behind Bayern. Favre wiggled. It is said that Götze could have lived with a 20 percent drop in salary. But now BVB wins in series, so there is only one person left like him to escape. Italy is mentioned.
Another question is whether that makes him happier. Many say that there has rarely been a player who has been blessed with talent and made such bad decisions. Götze later classified his early move to Bayern in 2013 as unfortunate. Götze, once hailed as a “talent of the century”, did not quite fit into the concept of the then new Bayern coach Pep Guardiola. Sure, if the coach actually had a certain Neymar in mind. In 2014 Götze decided the World Cup final with his goal for Germany, but even then, national coach Joachim Loew did not change it until late. When Guardiola’s successor Carlo Ancelotti indicated early in Munich that he would be able to cope without Götze, Götze’s return to Dortmund in 2016. There he met coach Thomas Tuchel, who allegedly did not fit the return campaign into the concept. Götze was then injured for a long time and long-term incapacitated.
After that, he only got back in good shape for a short time in the second half of last season. Götze cannot understand why Lucien Favre dropped him afterwards. Even the greatest romantics can see that Götze is not strong enough for what Borussia Dortmund is playing, his dribbling seems to have disappeared. What good is it that Götze is still number one in BVB’s noble squad in “Footbonauten”, the computer-controlled ball training in a cage; what good is it that he has a strong pass rate if he is playing? In an ideal world, a coach would build a system around a player like Götze. But that will hardly happen at the level of Dortmund, FC Bayern and similar calibers.
And so it is quite likely that Mario Götze will again be sitting in a seat shell with a corona mask on the last matchday and will no longer understand the world.