A year ago, German marksman, Mario Gomez, did not feature in the structure Bayern Munich manager, Louis van Gaal, considered his blueprint for his first choice team for the season.
The German had hogged a significant amount of limelight during his days at Stuttgart but had failed considerably to impress at the bigger club. National team coach Joachim Loew was also not particularly content with the mediocre outing Gomez had with the team during Euro 2008, even after superseding Lucas Podolski’s pairing with veteran striker Miroslav Klose upfront.
Subsequently, Gomez fell down the pecking order during the extravaganza in South Africa as Podolski reclaimed his position and a certain 20-year-old, fairly unknown Bayern lad called Thomas Muller, emerged as the German discovery of the tournament.
Post World Cup, it became increasingly clear Muller will eventually step into Klose’s big shoes at Bayern Munich even though he is naturally a support striker, a winger or an attacking midfielder – none of which boasted his poaching abilities.
Louis van Gaal was adamant his first choice Centre Forward would remain Ivica Olic, and Muller was expected to cement his position behind the two strikers to strengthen his candidature as Bayern’s future firepower. It was only a spate of injuries among the Bayern front line that compelled the Dutch manager to field Gomez in action.
Little did the ex-Barcelona manager know what a fortuitous move it would prove to be.
As things stand, Gomez has netted in 28 goals in the current season in all competitions, single-handedly sailing Bayern’s sinking ship forward in the absence of the big name stars like Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Klose.
Last night in the first leg of the Champions League knock-out round, Gomez epitomised the importance of his presence in the team. He tapped in a last minute winner at the San Siro over the defending champions Internazionale, giving his team a resounding advantage before playing the return leg at Allianz Arena.
The game was heading towards a stalemate. As with fair shares of luck by their sides, both the teams were able to hold their grounds until the very last minute of the game when a Robben shot rebounded in open space after Inter keeper Julio Cesare failed to not only hold on to the ball but also to clear it out of any opposition player’s reach.
Gomez could not have asked for a better opportunity to score and did what was required in a precise, calm and composed fashion.