Mario Gomez may insist that he is simply doing his job, but these are fruitful times for the FC Bayern München striker, who took his tally to 23 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions this term with his fourth hat-trick of the season at the weekend.
1. FC Kaiserslautern became the 25-year-old's latest victims on Saturday as he struck three times in the second half of a 5-1 home success that lifted Bayern to fourth in the Bundesliga. He now lies level with SC Freiburg's Papiss Demba Cissé at the top of the league scoring charts on 15 goals and, more importantly, has made himself an indispensable member of Louis van Gaal's side following an inconsistent start to his Bayern career after joining from VfB Stuttgart in 2009.
"That's my job," said the Germany international, who no doubt prefers to regard his current hot streak as a return to form given his overall Bundesliga record of 88 goals from 167 top-flight games. "I know what's expected of me. Obviously, it's my goal to be the top scorer in the Bundesliga, but it wouldn't be a disaster if I didn't achieve that. For me, the most important thing is to be part of the team and contribute to the club's success with my performances."
Closing the 14-point gap to runaway league leaders Borussia Dortmund could prove too stern a challenge, but Gomez and his team-mates have their sights set on more than one prize. They next take on second-tier outfit Alemannia Aachen in the German Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday, and beyond that can look forward to a rematch of the 2010 UEFA Champions League final when they face FC Internazionale Milano in the last 16 of the same competition on 23 February and 15 March.
The meetings with Inter will have particular resonance for Gomez, who was confined to a 16-minute substitute cameo when Bayern were defeated 2-0 in Madrid last May. Van Gaal placed most of his faith in Ivica Olić and Miroslav Klose during Bayern's run to that showpiece, and it has been injuries to both of those players that have given Gomez his chance to shine. And shine he has, having also racked up six goals during this season's UEFA Champions League group stage, leaving him one shy of top marksman Samuel Eto'o.
Not that he can afford to take anything for granted, however. Indeed, despite Gomez's feats against Kaiserslautern, Van Gaal was quick to remind the forward that he still has room to improve. "It's good to see him finding the net," said the Dutch coach on Saturday. "But he could have scored one during the first half today and that would have been much more important than our fourth or fifth goals."
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