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Götze’s potent blend of laid-back zest

An agile feint to the left, a stepover to the right, a single pace for balance and to isolate the target, and the ball whistles into the bottom corner of the net: Mario Götze is truly in his element. The rain has gone away and the demanding training routine is even more fun now. The sun has come out in Qatar, and Götze is radiant.

“Training in these conditions is superb,” the versatile attacker told FCB.tv. The summer signing is clearly enjoying his first proper period of preparation with FCB, as he was still completing a post-injury rehabilitation programme when his new team-mates were busy in pre-season. “It wasn’t great,” he recalled, “but I’ve put it all behind me.”

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. Götze has made 20 appearances for the treble winners and was increasingly influential as time went by. The 21-year-old really hit his stride in the run-up to Christmas, finishing the first half of the campaign with eight goals and five assists to his name. “I achieved peak fitness, I had playing time and I became part of the team,” commented Götze, “it made a few things easier for me. I’m very optimistic now.“

That’s clear to see in every training session. Götze is determined and full of zest, but is skilfully combining that with a suitably laid-back approach, a good combination for coping with Pep Guardiola’s decision to hold two training sessions a day. “At this stage it’s totally normal for training to be harder than usual. It’s a completely normal process,” declared Götze, who has returned from the holidays itching to get back to action: “The break has done as all the world of good and we’re ready to get going in the New Year.”

Götze’s main hope for 2014 is “to stay fit and healthy, and play good and successful football as a team.“ Mario can hardly wait for the match schedule to restart: “We have a few highlights coming up. We’re looking forward to the second half of the season!“ And Bayern fans can look forward to excellence from Mario Götze, as the 21-year-old indicated: “I’m in good shape and I’m enjoying myself. That’s the most important thing.”