Mats Hummels is Borussia Dortmund’s “true” world champion, as he is the only BVB player, who actually played. But Hummels didn’t just play, he played brilliantly, which is why he made it into the World Cup XI alongside his German teammates Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, Phillip Lahm and Thomas Müller. But how has the defender fared since he won the World Cup in July against Argentina?
The answer is simple: Not so great. Following a four week vacation after winning football’s most prestigious trophy, Hummels entered team training for the first time just two days before the season started with the least prestigious trophy in the world: The German Super Cup. Yet, only 10 days after joining team training the centre-back picked up the knee injury, that he’d drag through the entire first half of the season.
“I can count the games I felt fit or played pain free on one hand.” – One can also count the games the world champion played well so far this season on one hand. The first half against Bayern München on match day 10 was the first great performance, but sadly he had to go off at half time and missed another whole month before re-joining the team against Hoffenheim – which was the second acceptable Bundesliga performance of the defender.
Everything else was rather dim for the newly promoted team captain. In the majority of games Hummels was just beside himself, making wrong calls or just being one step too late. Anticipation is one of his greatest abilities, yet it’s never working out for him, when he isn’t entirely fit. One false judgement often leaves him stranded and the entire back line exposed. It’s great when it’s working out, but in Dortmund’s situation a cautious approach would have been the wiser choice.
The centre-back came to the same conclusion, as he explained on a press conference in La Manga: “I wanted to help the team, so I returned one or two games earlier than plan and I wasn’t in shape. I often realized, that I made mistakes or made wrong decisions because of my lack of fitness. At some point it was impossible to remediate, otherwise I would have had to stay sidelined for the entire Hinrunde in order to be in top physical shape. So we tried it anyway, which didn’t work out so well in hindsight. One can definitely learn from this for the future.”
Mats Hummels was certainly not the only one with these problems, but for now we just hope this nightmare is over and the whole team is in the required physical shape for the upcoming chase.
“When I get through the preparations without injury, I’ll be able to play the way, that I expect from myself to play.”
Let’s stay positive, that he will.