Is Mario Gomez worth a gamble for Germany at Euro 2016?
Simon Sinclair | February 23, 2016
Striking dilemma for Germany at Euro 2016
World champions Germany face an interesting dilemma ahead of Euro 2016, as they are poised to enter the tournament with Thomas Muller as their only recognised frontman.
Die Mannschaft clinched their fourth World Cup in Brazil despite boasting only the Bayern Munich forward and veteran Miroslav Klose as their strikers.
Klose retired from international football following Joachim Low’s side’s triumph, leaving Germany without an experienced forward during their qualifying campaign for the Euros.
They managed to book their place in the competition in France this summer though, scoring 24 goals in the process, with Muller leading the way with nine strikes.
The Bayern man is backed as the favourite to dominate the competition, with his odds at 6/1 with Coral to walk away with the Golden Boot yet again.
However, Germany’s options behind the 26-year-old are thin on the ground in terms of traditional strikers, although they are still considered second-favourites to win the tournament behind the host nation.
Pushing midfielders into the attack
Germany are blessed with a plethora of talented midfielders, which has seen even Mario Gotze struggle to hold down a regular place in the middle of the park.
The 23-year-old proved his ability on the biggest stage, scoring the decisive goal in Germany’s victory over Argentina in extra time of the World Cup final.
Gotze has showcased that he has the diverse skill set to adjust to playing up front and notched three strikes during qualifying.
However, he has not played for Bayern or Germany since he sustained a groin injury during Die Mannschaft’s 1-0 loss to the Republic of Ireland in October. Gotze therefore faces a tough task to regain his best form and fitness ahead of the tournament to play an important role for Low’s men in France.
Andre Schurrle has an excellent record at international level with 20 goals in 49 appearances for Die Mannschaft.
The former Chelsea man scored three goals during qualifying, but has found life tougher in the Bundesliga for Wolfsburg with only one strike to his name so far in the current campaign.
Schurrle has displayed quality in and around the box, but has rarely played as a central striker which would not present an enticing option for Low to gamble on in a major tournament.
Reus ready for Euro 2016 impact
Marco Reus’s form for Borussia Dortmund has seen him linked with every top club across Europe.
The 26-year-old was robbed of his place at the World Cup after sustaining an ankle injury just days before the start of the tournament.
After missing out on the triumph in Brazil, Reus will be hungry to make an impact for Die Mannschaft at the Euros, although his outstanding goalscoring record with Dortmund has not quite translated to the international arena (nine goals in 27 caps).
Reus has notched a goal every other game for Die Schwarzgelben during his four years at the club, and his record has earned him recognition as one of the outside options to win the Golden Boot with odds of 20/1.
However, like with Gotze and Schurrle his style of play may not be suited to feature down the middle of the pitch for Die Mannschaft. It would be a waste of his considerable talent to have him isolated in an unsuitable role where he could otherwise utilised elsewhere by Low.
Bundesliga strikers to answer the call?
Max Kruse played a sparing role during the qualifiers, but managed to score three goals, all of which came from the bench, including a brace against minnows Gibraltar.
The 27-year-old had a successful two-year spell with Borussia Mochengladbach before moving to Wolfsburg last summer, but has struggled during his time with Dieter Hecking’s team, finding the net only five times in 20 appearances in the Bundesliga.
Although he has failed to fire domestically, the forward has outside odds of 25/1 to be the leading marksman at the competition.
Low could also hand a surprise call-up to 33-year-old Alexander Meier following his impressive campaign for Eintracht Frankfurt.
The forward notched 19 goals in the Bundesliga last season and has added a further 12 to his tally this year. Only Muller and Robert Lewandowski have boasted better success in front of the net over the past two seasons in Germany.
However, his lack of experience in big matches will likely hinder an opportunity to represent Die Mannschaft in France, forcing Low to turn elsewhere.
Return of Mario Gomez
Before the days of Lewandowski and Muller, Gomez was the spearhead of Bayern’s attack with an incredible record of 75 league goals in 115 matches.
However, the rise of Muller and the arrival of Mario Mandzukic pushed him down the pecking order at the Allianz Arena, and as a result he moved to Serie A side Fiorentina.
Gomez has struggled immensely with injuries during his time in Italy, limiting him to just nine appearances in the league in his first campaign and only 20 in his second.
His fitness problems cost him a place in Low’s squad for the World Cup where he was forced to watch as his teammates lifted the trophy in Rio de Janeiro.
In an attempt to rekindle his form ahead of the Euros, Gomez secured a move to Besiktas on a season-long loan deal. He has managed to get back to his best in the Super Lig, firing 16 goals in his 21 matches for Kara Kartallar displaying his predatory instincts in the box.
Gomez perfect fit for world champions
Gomez’s rejuvenated form earned him a recall to the squad for Germany’s matches against France and the Netherlands last year, with the targetman featuring at the Stade de France while the other game was cancelled.
Before then, the forward last appeared for Die Mannschaft in their first outing after their World Cup triumph over Argentina in a 4-2 defeat to La Albiceleste in a rematch, and his last international goal came all the way back in Euro 2012 from a game-winning brace against the Netherlands.
Gomez has proven pedigree on the biggest stage and the ability to play up front on his own using his stature and power on the ball, which has been acknowledged by Low, who stated: “When Mario is fit, plays regularly and has his rhythm and confidence then he his valuable to any team.”
He would fit the mould of the striker Low would build his team around to offer an different option to Muller in attack, along with providing the experience to the younger players in the squad like veterans such as Klose, Oliver Neuville and Oliver Bierhoff have offered in the past.
The 30-year-old’s fitness could be an issue after playing his first full season in over three years, but his peak form and nous in the final third offers a lot more than the other options available to Low heading into the competition, making him the perfect candidate to supplement superstar Muller.