Hattrick hero Super Mario earned a much needed victory for Die Roten against Hannover at the Allianz Arena. After The win, Bayern has moved three places up in the ladder to ninth position, but more importantly, the champions are now only 3 points behind 4th placed Hamburg.
After the debacle against Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich chairman Rummenigge blasted both the team and the management. Bayern Munich players’ Oktoberfest privileges were withheld due to their apparent lack of commitment and poor performance. He demanded in his matchday programme notes: “I think that we have got to put all of our problems behind us and, in the current situation, all we can say is that there can be no replacement for victories”.
The midweek international fixtures were not kind at all to the ‘team cerise’. Injury to Klose and Van Bommel completed the double whammy for Louis Van Gaal. He only had 13 fit players for practice before the matchday. Last season in the same fixture Bayern thumped Hannover by seven goals. However, this time, with more than half the squad in the medical room, coupled with the incompetence of Bayern attackers thus far, not even the staunchest of supporters would have expected the repeat of last year’s rout.
Bayern started the match with only four of the regular starters. Pranjic played in a unconventional position of a holding midfielder. Surprisingly, Tymoshchuk was made to play alongside Badstuber due to the Van Buyten’s injury. Bayern’s possession football took a toll as Hannover put up a good show, claiming 49% of the ball possession in the first half.
It all started in the 21st minute, following a counter, when Gomez’s headed Bayern off to a one goal cushion. It was Gomez’s first goal for Bayern in 13 matches, first one since February. It seemed that his goal against Kazakhstan in the midweek for Germany has somewhat rejuvenated him with an uncharacteristic vim and vigor. Even more surprising is the fact that this was the first goal by a Bayern forward in Bundesliga this season.
‘Super Mario’ is back with a bang
The goal did ensconce the cornerstone of a much needed victory for Bayern. Though Hannover did up the ante from then onwards, creating a few chances as the game was played openly. Moments later Gomez was at it again when a one-two with Kroos presented him with another chance. But his effort was saved by Hannover number one. Before the break, Bayern fluffed another chance when Tymoshchuk headed a corner wide from close range.
Minutes after the break, Gomez did well to set up Kroos in front of the goal. But the German international’s poor effort was easily saved by Fromlowitz. Moments later Bayern was almost made to pay for the missed opportunities, but Mike Hanke missed the target narrowly. Hannover beefed up the pressure and created the better of the chances. Débutante Christopher Avevor missed an open goal.
In the 77th minute, Super Mario made sure that the match is going to end Bayern’s declivity, at least for the time being. Though the move started off with an apparent handball by Gomez, he nutmegged Christian Schulz twice over and then drilled the ball past Fromlowitz to give Bayern a two goal cushion. Then just a minute before the final whistle, Gomez rounded-off his bravura with a hattrick, heading the ball home off an-inch perfect cross from Muller.
Super Mario Packs A Punch
With half the team out injured, Bayern desperately needed someone to end the catharsis, and finally it was Mario Gomez’s turn to deliver. The goal against Kazakhstan seemed to do a world of good to the misfiring striker’s confidence. At a time when the fans and management were browned off with the striker, who had cost Bayern a transfer fee in excess of €30 million, such a performance was long overdue.
Gomez failed to live up to the hype following his transfer from Stuttgart. His blunders in front of the goal became his cachet, making him a butt of household jokes. Finally, in the absence of Klose and Olic, Gomez played the game of his life for Bayern. Be it the flying header for the first goal, the chicanery to skin his marker before blasting the second goal past Fromlowitz or the header from an off-balanced position to secure his hattrick – it appeared that he was determined to pack a punch against all the censures.
Apart from scoring the goals, the 6 ft 3 also linked up well with Kroos and Muller. He had also brilliantly set up Kroos after the break.
This was Bayern’s biggest victory in the Bundesliga in the on-going season, and only their third victory in eight matches. The character shown by the entire team, amidst harsh criticism, poor performances and in the absence of important first team players, was exceptional. With Schweinsteiger, Van Bommel and Van Buyten returning after injuries, Louis Van Gaal’s primary duty would be to keep this momentum alive for the next match as well. Who knows, this victory could well be the turning point in Bayern’s title ambition.