By Kris Voakes
In 2011-12, Mario Gomez was on fire. Seemingly unable to stop scoring goals, the Bayern Munich striker was up there alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as a virtual guarantee on the score sheet each week. He regularly found the net at key times, managed the rare feat of four goals in a single Champions League knockout game and ended the season with 40 strikes in 50 matches at club level.
But 2012-13 has been a very different story for the Germany international. Having missed the start of the campaign through injury, Gomez only made his season debut in late-November and now finds himself on the outside looking in as Bayern continues to get the job done in his absence. Add in the prolonged search for extra resources in attack, which has already come to fruition with the announcement of Mario Gotze's signing this summer, and it is clear that Gomez's stock has fallen considerably in Munich.
However, Tuesday night brings a tipping point for Gomez at Bayern. Mario Mandzukic’s suspension from the Champions League semifinal first leg against Barcelona opens a door that has been all but locked until now for the former Stuttgart man. The Croatian has been a decent replacement for Gomez, but simply hasn’t proven to have the same firepower as the big No.33. Such has been the form of die Roten, though, Mandzukic has become a key part of a side which has steamrolled its way through almost every opponent it has faced this season. Jupp Heynckes has continued to pick the former Wolfsburg man and has yet to feel particularly let down by the result.