Will we see Mario Gomez at Euro 2016?
If you know me personally or tend to read my articles, you’ll know that I’m a huge, dedicated fan of Mario Gomez. The Beşiktaş striker has been on many a squad list for Germany in previous years, and Euro 2016 is no different. However, his place on the field could actually boil down to a provisional spot – it would all depend on the calibre of other players. Given that Gomez will be turning 31 on the closing day of the tournament – 10th July – could it be that he’s too old for the main stage? Is there younger, fresher talent eager to go for goal? The sad truth is yes, probably.
Germany’s pre-Euros media campaign seems to be running smoothly, with Mercedes-Benz religiously in their corner, promoting the feeling of patriotism as the opening whistle blows. They are the current world champions; they don’t require an introduction, but they are in pole position to really clean up. Many will be quick to tip them as the ones to watch in France. So, it’s paramount that they get things right and work to their usual clinical methods, with smiles on their faces.
Gomez himself is keen even to earn just a minute on the pitch. He is certainly a veteran among the team, a class act to follow and be inspired by. Speaking out about the tournament, he has vocalised his desire to play to his best in training, if not to secure his own place in a starting eleven, but to benefit his teammates and make them stronger for when they step out into the open waters of the French stadiums. Solidarity among the outfit has always been an incredible and enviable strength of Die Mannschaft. It isn’t that they come across careless or arrogant, they just operate completely functionally and proactively together, without letting the pressure affect them too heavily. This is a trait that other teams lack drastically.
Since 2007, Mario Gomez has appeared for his country on 62 occasions. This isn’t the most wowing statistic, but it does evidence that he is a reliable and safe bet as a back-up option, if he isn’t selected outright. The quality of Gomez’s skill is without question; he is quick with his feet and possesses great reaction times, but his height also allows him aerial access to the ball, and so can provide pivotal headers into the back of the net. This asset was also owned by Miroslav Klose, a key attacker often deployed more regularly than Gomez. The half-German, half-Spanish striker has also been trumped by Thomas Müller on occasions, despite the two working in impeccable tandem (for instance, at Euro 2012).
Germany’s arsenal of other options has put Gomez on the back foot for the past couple of years, but his lack of hours clocked on the turf is also due to injury. He has been plagued with niggles and cases of severity, which have ruled him out of months during several seasons of his career. Most notably, I feel, was back at Bayern Munich. The 2012/13 campaign saw him forego his duties somewhat until he was increasingly favoured in the coming months by Mario Mandžukić, the Croatian hotshot. The now Juventus man was a real firecracker for Bayern whilst Gomez was on the bench, so the battle of the Marios was inevitably going to see someone get hurt. That was not long before Gomez was sold to Serie A side, Fiorentina.
Even though they’d be standing firm in midfield position, the likes of Marco Reus, Toni Kroos and Mario Götze could also tarnish Gomez’s chances of scoring, even if he did make the cut for a game. Götze especially could be seeking glory; he was the one to slot the winning goal in for Germany, to crown them world champions back in Brazil, 2014.
So, there are a few factors tipping the scales against Mario Gomez. His age is a concern, with slower pace, less accuracy and lack of club game time tallied being the causes for speculation. His misfortune with injury-riddled months is also a worry, as is the list of players generally more affluent. However, his reliability, focus and determination could well see him utilised for at least a late substitution.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, Mario.