The Westfalenstadion has been Mats Hummels’ home for the better part of the last decade. From being a fresh faced youngster fresh out of the Bayern academy, Hummels eventually became the face of a resurgent Borussia Dortmund leading them to several titles. His move this summer to Bayern Munich was a major one, not only for the impacts on the pitch but for the emotional and mental state of both clubs.
It wasn’t a move Hummels took lightly at the time either, but even he underestimated the effect his return to his old stomping ground would have on him. He outlined his feelings in a post-match interview.:
This was my living room for, i don’t know [sic], 200 games. It was very strange to be here as opponent [sic], to not be welcome. It was tough for me i have to admit. I thought I would be a little more relaxed about this.
It hit me a little bit harder emotional than I thought before.
For Hummels’ part, his response is completely normal. The DFL SuperCup while nominally a friendly comes with big stakes. There’s silverware involved not to mention that this is in all reality the start of how the team, and the player, will be judged this season.
A gaffe could have dramatically altered the perception of Hummels entire career going forward at Bayern Munich. Rather than standing with a clean sheet — admittedly, the team is standing on the shoulders of Manuel Neuer’s incredible performance — this could have been the “Hummels chokes when it becomes too much”. It’s unfair in many respects, but it is also one of the expectations of modern sports.
And that’s just the pressure from the Bayern side of things. The personal pressure of returning the villain to the same people who have cheered your name for eight years on top of that would cause many to break.
Mats Hummels knew the stakes and he’s honest about that. And he was equal to them.