sport news Mario Gotze is in danger of becoming a forgotten man as he struggles at ...

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Mario will always have the Maracana. The night the 22-year-old Gotze made his own dreams and those of the German nation come true.

It's still a goal to savour and appreciate even now, the immaculate chest control and cushioned left-foot finish, deep in extra time, appearing to unfold in one fluid motion.

The problem is, when you win the World Cup at such a young age, as Gotze did in 2014, everything that comes afterwards is always going to be anti-climactic.

Mario Gotze was only 22 when he scored Germany's winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final

Mario Gotze was only 22 when he scored Germany's winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final

Gotze's extra-time winner guided Germany to victory over Argentina at the Maracana

Gotze's extra-time winner guided Germany to victory over Argentina at the Maracana 

Gotze celebrates his winner with Thomas Muller as Germany won a fourth World title in 2014

Gotze celebrates his winner with Thomas Muller as Germany won a fourth World title in 2014

Gotze holds the World Cup aloft as Germany celebrate their victory in Rio de Janeiro

Gotze holds the World Cup aloft as Germany celebrate their victory in Rio de Janeiro 

Gotze may dwell on that point at the moment as he serves out the final year of his contract as something of a bit-part player.

He is still only 27 - a fact that leaves many incredulous given all that has happened in his career - and should be approaching his pomp. Instead, Gotze seems to be arriving at a crossroads.

The player who was once considered Germany's answer to Lionel Messi, who accomplished so much so young, has discovered that a career trajectory in such circumstances can only go downwards.

This Saturday, Gotze will be in the Dortmund squad that travels to Munich for the Bundesliga 'Klassiker' against his former club Bayern.

It's far from guaranteed that Gotze will start at the Allianz Arena. After all, Lucien Favre has started him in just three of the nine Bundesliga matches Dortmund have played this season.

Gotze has become accustomed to warming the bench at Borussia Dortmund this season

Gotze has become accustomed to warming the bench at this season

The forward has found it increasingly difficult to hold down a place in the Dortmund side

The forward has found it increasingly difficult to hold down a place in the Dortmund side

Gotze this season

BUNDESLIGA

Appearances: 6

Starts: 3

Unused substitute: 3

Minutes: 307

Goals: 2

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Appearances: 2

Starts: 1

Unused substitute: 2

Minutes: 65

Assists: 1

GERMAN CUP

Appearances: 2

Starts: 0

Minutes: 23

He has also only started one of their four Champions League group matches so far and that came on Tuesday night when Dortmund came from two goals down to beat Inter Milan 3-2.

But it said much that Gotze was taken off and replaced by Paco Alcacer immediately after Julian Brandt had levelled the scores at 2-2 in the 64th minute. Favre perhaps didn't think Gotze had it in him to score the winner.

Gotze hasn't even started in a German Cup game this season, becoming accustomed to warming the bench after Dortmund strengthened their attacking options over the summer.

They signed Julian Brandt from Bayer Leverkusen and Thorgan Hazard from Borussia Monchengladbach, adding to a forward line that also boasts Alcacer, Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus.

Gotze can play as an attacking midfielder - indeed he wears the No 10 shirt - but Dortmund are spoilt for choice. Reus played in that role during the early weeks of the season and as club captain is difficult to budge.

He is also capable of playing as a more conventional centre forward but fell victim to the blistering early-season form of Alcacer, who netted five times in his first four league games of the season.

Only an Achilles injury suffered by Alcacer has afforded Gotze a little more time on the field but the Spaniard is now fit again and so normal service will soon be resumed.

And when he does start, Gotze has failed to set the world alight. He scored in the 2-2 draw against Werder Bremen and from the penalty spot to round off last Saturday's 3-0 win over Wolfsburg. But his returns don't compare to Alcacer's.

Gotze celebrates with a fist pump after completing Dortmund's win over Wolfsburg

Gotze celebrates with a fist pump after completing Dortmund's win over Wolfsburg 

The forward cuts a dejected figure as Inter take a 2-0 lead on Tuesday, though Dortmund did fight back to win the Champions League encounter 3-2

The forward cuts a dejected figure as Inter take a 2-0 lead on Tuesday, though Dortmund did fight back to win the Champions League encounter 3-2

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