In a report by AZ, soccer tactics expert Constantin Eckner detailed why he thinks Mats Hummels is not exactly the best option in the central defense for Joachim Löw and Germany. Specifically, Eckner thinks Hummels is over the hill—specifically, too slow.
Hummels has never been the fastest and has lost a step athletically. He has passed his peak in athletic terms. Today people say that the best age for footballers is 27, according to athletic criteria. That can be dangerous.
Citing Hummels’s inability to catch Ante Rebic in the DFB-Pokal final, Eckner argues that Hummels needs to avoid getting into a foot race if Germany is to succeed:
Hummels and Boateng have shown with their positional play at Bayern that they can clean up a lot. Hummels, however, has to have already cleaned up a situation before he gets into a running duel. It cannot be the other way round. If he has to get into a race, things get complicated.
Eckner’s opinion should be respected, but you could argue that he is focusing too much on how Eintracht Frankfurt’s Ante Rebić gave the Bayern Munich defense a fit with his pace in the DFB Pokal finale. It is true, Hummels and company struggled with decision making, speed of play, and positional defense in a poor team effort. It would be naive, however, to ignore the litany of spectacular defensive stops that Hummels made over the course of the season.
How Hummels performs for Löw in this tournament will start to be seen against Mexico, but to gloss over the many success Hummels has had in the past year is an unfair assessment of his talent.