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Mario Gomez revives career at Bayern Munich

 Bayern Munich's  Mario Gomez, celebrates scoring the second goal against CFR Cluj's   during a Group E Champions League match in Cluj, Romania, Wedne...
 Bayern Munich's  Mario Gomez, right, celebrates opening the score against CFR Cluj's  during a Group E Champions League match in Cluj, Romania, Wedne...
 Bayern Munich's  Mario Gomez, left, celebrates scoring the second goal against CFR Cluj's   during a Group E Champions League match in Cluj, Romania,...

Romania Soccer Champions League

Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez, celebrates scoring the second goal against CFR Cluj's during a Group E Champions League match in Cluj, Romania, Wedne...

Romania Soccer Champions League

Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez, right, celebrates opening the score against CFR Cluj's during a Group E Champions League match in Cluj, Romania, Wedne...

Romania Soccer Champions League

Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez, left, celebrates scoring the second goal against CFR Cluj's during a Group E Champions League match in Cluj, Romania,...

Mario Gomez was in danger of becoming Bayern Munich's most expensive flop until injuries forced coach Louis van Gaal to give the striker another chance.
Gomez has embraced the opportunity and scored his second hat trick in less than three weeks in a 4-0 win at Cluj on Wednesday that secured Bayern's place in the second round of the Champions League.
Gomez has eight goals in his last six games and will hope to add to that tally against last-place Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday as Bayern turns its focus back to the Bundesliga.
"It's fantastic that we have a striker like that," Van Gaal said after the match in Cluj. "It was very, very good."
But Van Gaal overlooked Gomez for about a year, rarely giving Bayern's most expensive acquisition in the history of the club a regular place in the starting lineup.
Gomez arrived from Stuttgart on the heels of a 24-goal Bundesliga season for a reported fee of (EURO)35 million ($49 million).
He began well but after a few games Van Gaal, who was also new at the club, benched him and Gomez spent the rest of the season making ineffectual and brief appearances if he played at all.
Van Gaal crowned his first season at the club with the domestic double and took Bayern to the Champions League final. Gomez reportedly came close to being sent to Liverpool before this season.
Now, Bayern is lucky to have him.
Forward Ivica Olic is out for six months with a knee injury, Miroslav Klose is still nursing a hamstring problem and young star Thomas Mueller is beginning to show signs of "mental fatigue," according to Van Gaal.
Van Gaal said he adjusted Bayern's game in such a way to give Gomez more space, "and now he is scoring."
"I think I just have a lot more confidence," said Gomez, who has always insisted he needs to start games to be at his scoring best.
The way Van Gaal handled second-string players such as Gomez was one of the points raised by club president Uli Hoeness in his unusually sharp criticism of the Dutch coach. Van Gaal, Hoeness said, is difficult to talk to, does not accept other people's opinions and makes poor choices in his team selection.
Van Gaal and Hoeness officially declared peace after shaking hands in Cluj and were seen drinking red wine together after the match.
"It's simple at Bayern Munich, all you have to do is win and then everything is fine," board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
Van Gaal said criticism from Hoeness "was not nice but we've talked it out and we move on."
"I happen to be liked by my players. That's good for a coach and that's why my authority has not been damaged," Van Gaal said Thursday. "When we win, everything is good."
Bayern appears to be finding its stride after a sputtering start and will now concentrate on catching up in the Bundesliga, where it is 10 points behind leader Borussia Dortmund.
"We have to show our rivals that we are not only strong in the Champions League. We have to start climbing up the standings," Rummenigge said.
The Bayern squad flew straight from Romania to Moenchengladbach where defender Holger Badstuber and Franck Ribery are expected to join them after missing the Cluj game. Ribery has been out for more than a month with an ankle injury.
Dortmund does not play until Sunday, when it visits Hannover. Second-place Mainz travels to Freiburg on Saturday.
Schalke will try to escape from the relegation zone when it hosts St. Pauli on Friday.
In other matches Saturday, it's Hamburger SV vs. Hoffenheim; Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Wolfsburg; and Nuremberg vs. Cologne. On Sunday, Bayer Leverkusen plays Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart hosts Werder Bremen.


Updated : 2021-04-14 07:19 GMT+08:00