“I am not crazy enough to compare myself with Messi because he is the best there ever was and the best there will ever be.”
That is what Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez had to say to reporters in Germany who have constantly compared him to Lionel Messi in the run-up to the European Champions League final.
His team meets Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena on 17th April before Chelsea host Barcelona in the other semi-final on 18th April.
It may be unrealistic to compare the two at the most basic level. But when you see the numbers of this year’s elite club competition, Mario Gomez is almost neck and neck with Messi when it comes to scoring goals.
The tall German striker has 11 goals in the 673 minutes he has played in Europe while Messi has 14 goals in 810 minutes.
That leaves a difference of 137 minutes that Gomez has played less than the little Argentine. With the sort of form that he is in, one cannot help but think that Gomez could have scored those three goals to be level with Messi.
Don’t get this wrong, there is no chance that Gomez is a better or an equal player to Messi. No disrespect, but there are very few who can even claim to be near him at the moment and Gomez knows that as much as anyone else does.
“I guess there are worse things than being compared to Messi but I don’t look at what he is doing. I just try to give my best for my team,” he says, before adding, “The team make it easy for me. We play offensive football and I have great team mates.”
Go over to the league and in the last four seasons Messi has scored 127 goals in 131 matches. It will not come as a surprise that Gomez is far behind, but a record of 87 in 122 appearances is not bad.
The Cristiano Ronaldo argument is completely on another level.
Mario Gomez is a typical goal-poacher who struggles when he is not playing around creative players who can create chances for him. Therefore he rightfully acknowledges his teammates' presence around him.He is far from a striker who is far from the modern day forward like David Villa, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie (all of whom can do a bit of everything), Gomez thrives inside the box.
Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben are all vital to his statistics and pull away attention from the big man sitting in the box to nod the headers in. Something like what Ruud van Nistelrooy used to do in his time at Manchester United. Gomez, though technically sound, is very very different from Messi.
Messi is more of a trequartista—a player at the top of the pitch who the team constantly look to pass the ball to. He can dribble, do some stunning tricks and drops into spaces to wriggle out chances and score himself. Still, it can be said from Messi's international record that he needs a Xavi or an Iniesta around him to be at his effective most.
These two players are only statistically close, but as far as playing style and positions are concerned, Gomez and Messi are like chalk and cheese.
But for the time being, the news is that Germany have found their very own Messi to flaunt around. Mario Gomez, who is almost certain to lead the line for Germany in the upcoming Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine, should utilize those chances to close in on Messi and his not-so-impressive international record.
In national colours, Gomez has scored 21 times in 51 games, compared to Messi’s 22 in 68.
But come 17th April, it won’t be about international colours. It won’t be about Germany or Spain or Argentina. For Gomez and Co. it will be about beating Real Madrid and setting up a final with the winners of the Chelsea vs Barcelona match.
For Madrid, who make the odd marking mistake, Bayern will look to pull Ramos and Marcelo away with the help of Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben, leaving Gomez to cause havoc with his strength in the box.
On the other hand, when Germans pop their Becks that night, it will be in the hope that they can stop the unstoppable Ronaldo. The Portuguese has had a recent surge in goals scored from distance and his new celebration of thumping his thighs does not bode well for Munich.
In what promises to be a cracker of a match, the onus will be on Mario Gomez to truly show his class….goals against Werder Bremen and Stuttgart and Leverkusen will not count. If he is to truly justify the German media’s praise and comparison, he better score against Real Madrid.
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Updated Date: Apr 14, 2012 17:56:36 IST