Derided as a pointless exercise, Germany’s summer tour turned out to be a much-needed confidence booster for striker Mario Gomez.
By Nick Bidwell in Berlin
At last the awakening. After a 15 games without a goal for the national team – those of a hard-hearted disposition prefer to calculate in terms of a 829-minute drought – Germany striker Mario Gomez finally has rediscovered his bearings at this level, netting no fewer than four in the 7-2 thumping of the United Arab Emirates in Dubai.
Many a pundit here was quick to portray Germany’s early summer fixtures in China and the UAE as a politicking operation, a heavily-depleted squad travelling half-way around the world just to schmooze and glad hand their hosts. However, it certainly was not a wasted trip for Gomez, who, with the doomsday clock ticking down on his Nationalmannschaft career, at last broke through the mental block which had plagued him for so long.
Gomez, a recent £30million Bayern Munich acquisition from Stuttgart, has proved quite an enigma. Unstoppable for Stuttgart, where he has managed 33 Bundesliga goals in the past two seasons. Yet timid and ineffective on the international stage. Many coaches would have discarded him by now. But Bundestrainer Joachim Low has always believed that the missing piece in this particular jigsaw was confidence not talent and to his credit, has stood by his. Given all Supermario’s gifts – the power, the skill, the sure finishing touch with head or either foot – Low’s stubborness could pay off handsomely.
Besides Gomez’s goal-spree and Manuel Neuer’s capable debut in the UAE stroll, there were few, if any other, positives to glean from the Asian jaunt. Indeed, the opening game of the tour, a 1-1 draw in Shanghai against China – Lukas Podolski on target for the visitors – as little short of disastrous, the German performance sorely lacking in tempo, enterprise and and unity. Sloppy in their passing, sitting far too deep and rarely offering any sort of attacking threat, this was jaded, end of term fare in every sense.
Newcomers to the squad such as Wolfsburg midfielder Christian Gentner, the Stuttgart pair of newly-naturalised Brazilian forward Cacau and defender Christian Trasch and Hoffenheim engine room workhorse Tobias Weis all enjoyed some playing time, though none left an indelible mark. Nor, truth to tell, did the recalled likes of Celtic right-back Andreas Hinkel or Middlesbrough centre-back Robert Huth, who had not appeared for his country for almost three years.
Then again, perhaps we should not have expected too much. Germans and friendlies do not tend to be the happiest of bedfellows and legitimate absentees were legion. An FA Cup Final date with Chelsea prevented skipper Michael Ballack travelling, regulars Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker were out injured and no Werder Bremen or Leverkusen players were involved either, retained in Berlin for the Geman Cup Final, a showpiece in which Bremen prevailed 1-0 thanks to a deflected effort from midfielder Mesut Ozil.
The question has to be asked: Why did the DFB agree to an official tour with their domestic season still unfinished ?