A relegation battle is one of the most feared scenarios of footballers and fans the world over, yet a man accustomed to success says he would like little more than to be involved in one.
Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels has won the Bundesliga three times, adding that trophy to his collection of one DFB Cup, three DFL Supercups and, of course, the FIFA World Cup. Yet it is one of those achievements that is not recognised with a trophy, which he currently craves.
"I told a friend of mine a few weeks back that I would love to be involved in a relegation battle once," he told ZDF Neo television. "We did it once with Dortmund, back in 2014 when we suddenly found ourselves in 18th just a few months after I won the World Cup. It's so cool when you get yourself out of it, although I don't know how cool it would be to go down."
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That is a scenario that Hummels is unlikely to experience, though, at least not considering his status as one of the world's best central defenders. With the strength and solidity he provides, it is hard to imagine any team he is in struggling.
Indeed, Bayern lifted a fifth straight Bundesliga title in 2016/17, having strengthened their defence by signing Hummels from Borussia Dortmund last summer. It was a move which saw a backlash against the Germany international, with many BVB fans not taking kindly to the Bayern youth product's decision to return to their arch-rivals.
"I was totally ready for that," recalls Hummels, who says that he could "theoretically" imagine a return to Dortmund one day, "even if I probably should not have said that (laughs).
Hummels will undoubtedly have felt different about his former teammate on his return to the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK back on Matchday 11. Aubameyang scored the only goal of the game to end Bayern's unbeaten start under head coach Carlo Ancelotti, but the record champions had the last laugh.
"It's certainly a lot better when you've got the Meisterschale in your hands," Hummels said after winning the Bundesliga title for the first time as a Bayern player. "I've enjoyed the whole process. There were a lot of highlights, and some disappointments, but overall - to win the title, which is what's expected of you every season here - it's been a good first year. I'm looking forward to making it a very good one next season."
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