Sunday, May 10, 2009

The two worlds of Mario Gomez

Hamburg - Mario Gomez was the Bundesliga hero again with a four-goal show in VfB Stuttgart's 4-1 drubbing of league leaders VfL Wolfsburg.

"Gomez gigantic," titled the Bild am Sonntag paper, while other Sunday headlines ranged from "Super Mario makes the wolves howl" to "Gomez kills wolves."

Gomez raised his season tally to 23 goals to draw even with Wolfsburg's Bundesliga top scorer Grafite. No other Stuttgart player has scored so many goals in one season, not even Giovane Elber and Kevin Kuranyi.

The big win on Saturday threw the title race wide open with Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich on 60 points each, Hertha Berlin on 59 and Stuttgart on 58.

"We always have the maximum possible target and if we can avoid any defeats, then we will stay exactly where we are now, or maybe even move further up the table," said Gomez.

While the whole of Stuttgart dreams of another surprise Bundesliga title like in 2007, Gomez' latest super show will again raise questions why he shines in the club shirt only and not in the Germany kit.

"I will probably be the main topic of discussion for the rest of the week now, so I'm happy that the next game is already on Wednesday," he said.

The 23-year-old was wildly jeered a few weeks ago when taken out in a World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein.

His scoreless run in the national team covers 15 matches and 733 minutes. The fans have been unforgiving ever since he missed from point blank range against Austria at Euro 2008.

Germany coach Joachim Loew insists that Gomez is "an outstanding player" and believes that "he will score again in the national team" as the 2010 World Cup draws closer.

Gomez is not the first player who has been unable to transform his club form to the country level. In cosy Stuttgart, he has the full support of everyone and is a key player for coach Markus Babbel.

Babbel says that Gomez is "in the form of his life," but his scoring spree has also led to speculation whether he will stay in Stuttgart beyond the summer or leave for a bigger club such as Bayern Munich or a top club from England or Spain.

Gomez has a contract until 2012 but can leave for 35 million euros (48 million dollars). The decision will largely depend on whether the team makes the Champions League or not when the season ends May 23.

"Gomez stands at a crossroads. Will Stuttgart, considered plain by many, become too small for him or is he only capable there of such great showings as against Wolfsburg," said Stern magazine on its website. (dpa)

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