Featuring in 15 competitive matches during the first half of 2018/19, Borussia Dortmund's Mario Götze has got his mojo back. - © 2018 DFL
Featuring in 15 competitive matches during the first half of 2018/19, Borussia Dortmund's Mario Götze has got his mojo back. - © 2018 DFL
bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund comeback kid Mario Götze: "It's been a challenge to win over Lucien Favre"

If Borussia Dortmund were to open a theme park, the Mario Götze big dipper would be one of the star attractions.

Götze's roller-coaster career has been well-documented.

There have been peaks: his breakthrough under Jürgen Klopp and subsequent back-to-back Bundesliga title wins; scoring the winning goal in the FIFA 2014 World Cup final; and returning to BVB.

And there have been troughs: missing the 2013 UEFA Champions League final through injury, being cast in a subordinate role in his three years at Bayern Munich; and the debilitating muscle disorder, Myopathy, that nearly brought a premature end to it all.

But Götze has come out the other side fighting.

Now 26, the man Franz Beckenbauer once hailed as "the German Lionel Messi" is fit, healthy and playing regular first-team football for a Dortmund side in pole position to scoop a first Bundesliga title since the halcyon days of 2011/12.

Jürgen Klopp (l.) introduced the professional football world to Mario Götze (r.) in 2010. - 2013 Getty Images

bundesliga.com caught up with the rejuvenated attacker to get his take on the season so far...

bundesliga.com: The season is going pretty well so far. How do you see it?

Mario Götze: It's going well. When you think of how many points were available and how many we have, I think things could have gone worse. That, combined with our position in the table, makes for a very good return so far.

bundesliga.com: Did you expect things to be going so well?

Götze: Personally, I didn’t expect things to be going so well because these things take time with a new coach, new players, and with the development needed. You never quite know what is going to happen, but this makes it even better that things have gone so well. Of course, we know that not everything is perfect, and that we won a few games with a bit of luck or with the right moment. It’s nevertheless nice to have picked up the points and to get through our Champions League group. It’s great.

bundesliga.com: Why are things going so well at the moment?

Götze: The coach and the whole team are doing their bit. The opposition and how they are set up also play a role and how they perform in the situation. There are many factors that play a role and you also need a certain amount of luck to win these games. I think we are very unpredictable in games and our substitutes also score a lot of goals. There are many small things that add up and get us the points. These are all the things that are clicking, and that’s why it’s going so well at the moment.

Mario Gotze (l.) laid on both goals as Dortmund capped 2018 with a 2-1 win over second-placed Gladbach. - Bongarts/Getty Images

bundesliga.com: That said, it was a tough start to the season for you. How did you deal with it?

Götze: It was tough situation. When you have been playing for a quite a while, you have certain expectations of yourself and you want to play in every game and be successful. It was a tough situation and a new one for me, so it was a challenge to deal with. I have always tried to grow in every situation, regardless of what it is, and simply keep going and keep training and working hard. I wanted to convince the coach that he was making a mistake, at least at the start! I just worked on myself and it was a new challenge to win over the coach. It is good to grow with these things and that’s how I would assess the situation.

bundesliga.com: You scored against Augsburg. How did you feel?

Götze: It was good and it was important for me personally. It was emotional playing against my little brother, but it was a positive day, for me at least, maybe less so for my brother!

Mario Götze's strike against Augsburg on Matchday 7 was his first in the Bundesliga in eight months. - INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images

bundesliga.com: What's it like to have your brother, Felix Götze, also playing in the Bundesliga?

Götze: It’s great and it’s nice to see that he went his own way. He developed and gained his own experiences and it’s good to see how he deals with these situations. It’s great that he is at this level and I am very proud of how he has gone about it. He has come so far and I hope that more good things will follow. I am convinced that he is a very good player.

bundesliga.com: How was it for him to play against BVB in Dortmund?

Götze: It was sensational because he played in the youth teams here in Dortmund and he knows the stadium. It was then even more special and emotional to play against me. He came into the game when it was 1-1 and they were running all over the pitch. He told me that it was very tiring, especially at the end when we were putting pressure on to try to win the game. Every experience is important for him at the moment in his development and in his first year in the Bundesliga. He’s doing very well.

Mario Götze's (l.) younger brother, Felix (r.), left Bayern Munich for Augsburg in summer 2018. - AFP/Getty Images

bundesliga.com: You are currently playing as a false nine. What is your best role in the team?

Götze: I like playing this position when it is not a classic forward role. I am not somebody who just stands up front and waits for the long ball. I played this playmaking forward role before for the national team and it’s good to be able to come short for the ball and to drop deep to create space in behind. This needs to be a clear role for the number nine and I really like this position. The further forward I play, the better it is for me, but I am also happy to be able to be creative on the ball in the middle of the pitch. Personally, I like being able to play creatively and flexibly.

bundesliga.com: How do you compare Lucien Favre to other coaches?

Götze: Comparing coaches and players is always very difficult because they all have their own philosophies and concepts. What makes Lucien Favre stand out is his attention to detail and tactics and his desire for the team to have one mind both going forward and defending. He wants us to do this as a team, but also to play good football, and that is what makes him special and sets us apart this season. You cannot forget that he hasn’t been here for long and that it still needs time to develop. Things don’t change overnight, so it is important to give him time. We are implementing things very well at the moment and, if we keep on working with him and his team, then things can get even better.

bundesliga.com: Bayern will pick up more points in the second half of the season, won’t they?

Götze: That’s not an unreasonable assumption. If you see how they played against us, especially in the first half, then I am convinced that they will pick up points again very quickly.