Germany international striker Mario Gomez has finally returned to Bayern Munich after over 3 months of recovering from ankle injuries. Gomez picked up the injury during the semi-final of the Liga-total! Cup against Werder Bremen in Hamburg. The 27 year old underwent surgeries to remove loose bodies in his right ankle in August, just before the start of the 2012-2013 Bundesliga season.
Gomez returned to the pitch on November 13th in a friendly match against minor league club FC Falke Markt Schwaben. 101 days after his last game with Bayern, he scored 4 goals for his squad, and also, destroyed a ball.
Gomez opened the scoring at 7 minutes, after which Mitch Weiser doubled their lead. Gomez, who was clearly eager to perform well for the team after his long break, made it 3-0 when he managed to kick a penalty into the net so hard that the ball deflated. By the end of the match, Gomez netted 2 more goals, with another coming from Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro.
Proud of his 4-goal “debut,” Gomez said to FCB.tv, “It’s not like I’ve been away for six years. Let’s not exaggerate, they weren’t the toughest of opponents.”
But Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes refused to let Gomez participate in their Bundesliga match with FC Nürnberg on Saturday, which ended in a shocking 1-1 draw. Heynckes later stated, “He has been out for three months, and now made his first steps. Let’s see how he copes with the match.”
But Heynckes did select Gomez in his squad for the Champions League Group F match against La Liga side Valencia CF. In Spain, Gomez played as a substitute at his first competitive game since August. Despite Valencia’s early red card, the Spanish took the lead at 77 minutes after a strike from Sofiane Feghouli. But Gomez’s substitution for Franck Ribéry just 2 minutes later proved vital to their comeback and taking the top spot in Group F. On the 82nd minute, Gomez set up and assisted a perfect goal that was sent flying into the net by fellow teammate Thomas Müller, ending the match with the score of 1-1.
But Bayern Munich has not suffered without their star striker these last few months. Mario Mandžukić and Claudio Pizarro, who were signed into Bayern this past summer, have been sending goals in game after game, making the team’s attacking end the least of their concerns. Mandžukić leads the Bundesliga scoring chart with a total of 8 goals, while Claudio Pizarro has proven to be a great alternative to the Croatian striker after completing a hat trick in their Champions League match against LOSC Lille.
So what more could they want? Now that Gomez is back, Bayern Munich will be virtually unstoppable in the Bundesliga and they will have a great chance in the Champions League. With their successes, Gomez had been nearly forgotten, but he will just be the icing on the cake (and a lot of it) now that he is back.
The German striker was Bayern’s most popular forward until his ankle injury, and he intends to keep it that way now that he has returned. But Gomez, who was last year’s top scorer, must first oust Mandžukić and show that he is the better striker despite the Croatian’s successes, as a fight for the top spot is clearly looming in the team’s future.
On Wednesday, Gomez confidently told reporters, “There’s always this talk that I’m not able to compete, but I’ve been competing for eight years with very good strikers and have managed to come out on top.” And with his return, one thing is certain: Jupp Heynckes will have big selection headaches in all of Bayern’s upcoming matches.
But, Heynckes has plenty of time to think as his side prepares for their last 7 matches of the calendar year. This gives him plenty of opportunities to rotate and adjust the squad and ease Gomez back into the team, as the German international prepares for a massive comeback for Bayern Munich.