BIn his very personal choice of the 2014 world champions, the national coach decided in favor of Mario Götze and against Mats Hummels. The midfielder from Frankfurt and the central defender from Dortmund were, along with Thomas Müller, the only active field players at the time who, more than eight years after the World Cup triumph in Rio, could still hope for a nomination for the World Cup finals. The fact that Hansi Flick only put his trust in the scorer of the golden goal against Argentina and not in the tireless central defender is a tough decision.
Hummels had a strong season, and according to the principle that Flick wanted to follow when he took office – according to which the current level of performance is the indicator for nominations – it is not surprising that the Dortmunder had hoped for an invitation. In any case, it can hardly be said that the central defenders Niklas Süle or Matthias Ginter (the Freiburger was also in the squad at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but didn’t play a second) showed a stronger performance than Hummels this season.
But other factors may have played a central role in Flick’s decision against a second comeback from Hummels: With the Dortmund manager on the pitch and in the squad, the hierarchy in the national team would have been different, the balance would have changed – perhaps too much for Flick .
With Hummels in the defense headquarters, after about a year and a half under the new national coach, there would not have been much left of what Flick had built up in terms of team structure on the defensive. And with the nomination of Götze, the statics of the German midfield could suddenly change completely – both together would have been a lot of change.
One thing should be clear after the impressions of this season about two weeks before the start of the World Cup: Götze is in the form of his life. At 30, the scorer of the glorious World Cup-winning goal of 2014 is a much better, more confident and more resilient idol than he was then – and ever – in the jersey of the national team.
The evening before his World Cup nomination, he put in an absolutely world-class performance in Frankfurt’s 4-2 win over Hoffenheim. He is the linchpin of a team that currently plays the most attractive football in the league after FC Bayern. There is probably no more creative and ball-safe German midfielder at the moment, apart perhaps from Toni Kroos.
So Götze is also a player for the starting lineup. He can give the Germans what no other midfielder knows how to give so reliably at the moment: the perfect and at the same time surprising pass to the top, plus overview and calm in the build-up game. In a duet with the child prodigy Jamal Musiala, the heart of the German game in Qatar could beat as beautifully and spiritedly as it has not for a long time.
But no matter how the national coach will occupy the headquarters: what hardly anyone could have expected after Götze’s last international match in 2017 is new German football reality in November – the youthful World Cup hero of yesterday, who seemed to have disappeared into oblivion, after all these long years, has made himself the great hope for the World Cup. Before the kick-off of this highly controversial World Cup, that is a wonderful and hardly possible football-romantic win.