With his total alertness, readiness to receive the ball and capacity for daring strokes of genius at any moment, it is immediately clear that Mario Gotze is in his element at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. The German technician, already revered as a once-in-a-lifetime talent back in his homeland, now looks likely to make his breakthrough on football’s biggest international stage.
Over the course of the three-time world champions’ 4-0 opening match victory against Portugal, the 22-year-old proved himself to be a lethal attacking force capable of consistently wrongfooting his opponents. Nevertheless, Gotze is as cool and considered off the pitch as he is creative on it, making him the perfect embodiment of the new spirit in Joachim Low’s squad.
“It was important for us to take those three points [against Portugal], but that was all,” Gotze said to FIFA.com. “Our performance shouldn’t be overstated, as there were some things that simply went well for us. In some situations we were just lucky. It won’t be easy given that Ghana now need three points no matter what. It’ll be a very tough game, but we can be confident about it.”
For Joachim Low, Gotze is also an compelling option for the starting line-up against the physically imposing west Africans. “When things get tight, [Mario] is a player who can perform well against big defenders,” Low said following his side's opening game.
As the son of an information technology professor, Gotze’s watchword is rationality, but he also thrives on spontaneity when it comes to posing a threat in front of an goal. Nevertheless, there are many occasions when this pacy player, often praised for his instinct, favours a considered step-by-step approach.
“We don’t have many matches at this tournament, so we’re trying to go into each one of them with a high level of concentration,” he said. "In these conditions it’s important to play rationally, stay focused and play football our way.”
His approach appears to have been validated after Germany sealed another 4-0 FIFA World Cup opening match win, much like they did four years ago against Australia in South Africa. Besides, there is nothing boring about Die Mannschaft’s new attacking style.
“It’s really important that we cover every area of the pitch and always pick the right moment to move forward. Each of us knows what we have to do out there,” Gotze said.
The conviction in his face as he talks is as clear to see as the tentative grin that then appears. It is clear that he has no problems playing football under the gaze of the entire world in Brazil, and right now he is enjoying every minute of it.