Following his standout performances in Germany's top flight and European competition over the first few months of the 2011-12 season, Mario Gomez can rightly be considered the most feared out and out striker in Europe.
Although physically he appears as a classic English number nine, all power, aggression and towering headers, there is a subtlety to his play in and around the box that has been one of the hallmarks as his team have again been established as not only the side to beat domestically, but also a club to be avoided in Europe. Most of this is down to Gomez.
In the league this season, Super Mario has played 16 times and scored 16 goals, in Europe has bagged seven in seven, and the only competition in which he doesn’t average a goal every game is the German Cup, having appeared on two occasions scoring once.
Of course, this is nothing new for the big striker with Spanish heritage. Apart from his first season in lower league football, where he scored 6 in 19 games, Gomez has a record of better than a goal every other game since then, netting 178 times in 296 club matches overall, and 76 in his 114 games for his current club.
And the numbers just keep coming. He’s hit 14 career hat-tricks to date, has scored 21 goals in his 50 appearances for the national team and in 2011 he scored 50 goals for club and country. Yet to only look at the statistics would do him a disservice.
A disciplined and organized team without the ball, Gomez’s team becomes a marauding beast when possession is retained. A talented central midfield strives to get the ball wide quickly to the two world-class wingers who switch flanks constantly to baffle the opposition.
It isn’t easy playing as a striker in a team with one quicksilver playmaker, so doing it with two could be a bridge too far for some players. Gomez seems to thrive on it. For a player with such a big frame, he moves well in and out of pockets of space created by the movement wide and behind of him, and has honed his knack of being in the right place at the right time to either be on the end of crosses and pull-backs or gobble up the rebounds from shots. He can best most defenders physically, turns well on either side and is, as you’d expect, a handful in the air.
The phrase ‘complete striker’ is often bandied about without thought, but Gomez has proven that he is as close to it as any player in world football. Just ask his international manager. “He is unbelievably vibrant and it is difficult to find any faults in him. He has unbelievable potential, matched by very few forwards in Europe.”
Who are we to argue?