Cut from the Germany squad on the eve of the UEFA EURO 2008™ finals, the precocious Marko Marin demonstrated just why he is being favourably compared with Thomas Hässler after marking his second international appearance with a memorable goal against Belgium.
Barely seven minutes after being introduced from the substitutes' bench, the little midfield whirlwind made his mark. Receiving the ball from Philipp Lahm, he played a perfect return ball before the FC Bayern München man returned the compliment. In the box now, Marin feinted, wrong-footing Daniel Van Buyten and working enough space to allow him to fire in an unstoppable shot across the goalkeeper. "Two guys outplaying four or five Belgians with one-twos, direct play and a brilliant dummy," said coach Joachim Löw. "The way Marko Marin cut inside, feinted and finished into the far corner was classy."
They were moves familiar to fans of VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, for whom Marin announced himself in telling fashion last season. The 19-year-old scored four goals and contributed 13 assists as Die Fohlen earned promotion to the Bundesliga. Marin, meanwhile, earned a surprise call to Germany's preliminary UEFA EURO 2008™, though he was omitted from the final 23. "It was bitterly disappointing," he admits. "I am glad to be back now, though, and want to give my all." He certainly did that in Nuremburg on Wednesday, underlining what a find he could prove to be for Germany as, having been born Bosanska Gradiska, he could have chosen to represent Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It was in Frankfurt that the youngster started to play football, however, linking up with Eintracht Frankfurt before switching to Mönchengladbach in 2005. The move has paid dividends, with Marin pushed into the starting lineup earlier and quickly developing into the sort of player with which the Germany coach is not overwhelmed in terms of options. Small, with great technique and an eye for goal, he has earned comparisons with EURO '96™ winner Hässler though Marin is perhaps blessed with more pace. He can play as an attacking midfielder or on the left flank, but his main ambition is simply to "ensure I am back [for Germany] again next time and that I play as often as possible". Given his display against Belgium, Löw looks unlikely to deny him that wish.
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