Mats Hummels has been called up to represent Germany at the European Championships this summer. - © imago images
Mats Hummels has been called up to represent Germany at the European Championships this summer. - © imago images
bundesliga

Why Mats Hummels deserves his Germany recall

It’s hard enough to break into the Germany squad once, but to do it twice? You’ve got to be seriously good. And Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels is exactly that, having been recalled to Joachim Löw's Germany squad for UEFA Euro 2020.

It is a fully deserved nomination for the 32-year-old, who's last outing for Die Mannschaft was on 19 November 2018, before being informed he was not part of Löw's plans to revamp the team.

The centre-back returned to Dortmund from Bayern Munich the following summer in search of more regular playing time, and has since underlined his reputation as one of the finest in his position.

And the coronavirus outbreak has necessitated a rethink in the Germany set-up in terms of marrying their title hopes this summer with the plans to integrate younger players.

"Through the pandemic over the last year, we've had almost a year stolen from us," Löw explained in March this year, contemplating a possible recall for Hummels and national team colleague Thomas Müller.

"So, you can start to think about interrupting a phase of rebuilding, and doing so if it's absolutely necessary, and if me and my coaching staff feel we need an extra percentage point here or there, or someone else to give a new energy or leadership in sporting terms."

Not only that, but more recently the 61-year-old expanded further, telling kicker: "If you recall players like that then you need to give them responsibility and then they are of course going to play."

Joachim Löw (l.) has recalled Hummels (r.) for his final tournament in charge of Germany, Euro 2020. - getty images

Clearly, then, Hummels is not there to make up the numbers but as a cornerstone of a side aiming for glory. He's tried, tested, ready to go and already knows his way around the squad. But what exactly does he add?

First and foremost, Hummels handles the bread-and-butter of his position with minimal fuss: keeping strikers at bay. "Mats has had a great season and leads the way in a number of statistics in the Bundesliga," said Dortmund interim head coach Edin Terzic recently.

The 38-year-old was spot on in his analysis. Hummels has won more tackles (386) and aerial duels (168) than any other centre-back in the Bundesliga overall this term, respectively putting him fifth and second in those categories in the league overall.

Moreover, he is comfortable in possession - Axel Witsel once commented that it's "easy for me to play with him, I can play the ball to him in any situation," - and highly effective at the other end of the pitch too. The Dortmund No.5 is the league's top-scoring defender with five goals, most of which have come from corners.

Watch: Hummels' match-winning brace against Bielefeld!

As if that were not enough, he is adept at launching attacks too, often spraying precise long-balls forward to a teammate or behind the opposing backline.

"I always keep my eyes open for long balls," he said in the past. "We have brilliant movement up front, with our three or four attacking players. That's what makes it possible. In that way, even against well-organised opponents who press the ball high, you can still find solutions."

For a side as dominant as Germany, who can expect to teams to sit back deep against them, having an extra weapon in the armoury is certainly no bad thing.

Yet for all his on-field qualities, and title-winning experience - Hummels has lifted the 2014 World Cup, five Bundesliga titles and the 2021 DFB Cup, among others - part of his appeal also lies in his soft skills.

Hummels has crucial experience which will help Germany stay grounded during the Euro 2020 tournament. - imago sportfotodienst/imago/Laci Perenyi

Articulate and thoughtful, the 70-cap veteran is as capable of putting an arm around the shoulder as he is at giving a kick in the rear end - and has a knack of knowing when to use which. That could prove invaluable in a potentially month-long camp in which the players are isolated from friends and family in their bid for glory.

"He's someone who leads the way and not only in front of the camera, but also on the pitch," Terzic said. "Not only on a matchday, but also in training. He demands things from the team and then does them himself to lead by example."

And what better example could Germany ask for than a top-quality player who has overcome adversity and achieved success?