- Gomez returns to former club Bayern with Wolfsburg on Saturday.
- Says title race is closest in years.
- Will put fond memories of Munich aside at kick-off.
VfL Wolfsburg have endured a difficult spell, heading into their trip to champions FC Bayern München in 15th, without a win in three. Former FCB striker Mario Gomez sat down with bundesliga.com ahead of the game to talk about the Wolves’ plight, what he makes of the champions’ title defence, and the fantastic appeal of the Bundesliga.
bundesliga.com: Mario Gomez, the situation at Wolfsburg is difficult. How could this happen to a team with so many great footballers?
Mario Gomez: If this question were so easy to answer, we would have already changed the situation. It would be too good to be true if you could tweak one thing and the rest would fall into place. There are a number of reasons. None of us are currently playing with great self-confidence. We must focus on the simple things - just as we manged to to in the first half against Hertha Berlin [Wolfsburg were 2-1 ahead before losing 3-2 on Matchday 13].
Watch: Gomez hit a brace in Wolfsburg's 3-0 win over Freiburg in November:
bundesliga.com: The 3-0 victory in Freiburg and the subsequent appointment of Valerien Ismael full-time seemed to relax the situation. Why did this victory not instil more give self-confidence?
Gomez: After Freiburg, we really had hope. But it is not that simple. You cannot assume the good times are back after a single victory. The club have to come together to analyse why we are in this situation. Every player now has a duty to turn the page. In every training session you can see what these players are capable of.
bundesliga.com: On Saturday Wolfsburg travel to Bayern, which is no easy task, despite their recent hiccups.
Gomez: If you march ahead like Bayern have in recent years, and then a new coach comes along with a new philosophy, it can take a while for everything to take hold. On the other hand, RB Leipzig were something of an unknown quantity and they are on a great run. At Bayern, three draws are already a crisis. However, if a convincing victory follows, Bayern normally put together a winning run again.
bundesliga.com: You will return to the Allianz Arena for the first time in three years. What are your emotions?
Gomez: I had my most successful time as a player at Bayern. Munich was my home and will always be in my heart. I often think of myself almost as a Bayern player, even to this day, because I am there often and I still have a lot of friends at Bayern. Sure, I'm looking forward to this game. However, I am not travelling to Munich detached from our current situation. That would be mad.
bundesliga.com: You have played in the Bundesliga as well as Italy’s Serie A and the Turkish SüperLig. How do you see the Bundesliga in comparison to these leagues?
Gomez: In terms of attractiveness, the Bundesliga is unrivalled. In the past Bayern dominated, but the European race behind them has been very interesting. This season Bayern in the thick of it and teams that may have smaller goals given their budget or traditional expectations may be playing better than expected. The performance levels in the Bundesliga are getting closer and the clubs are closer than ever before.
bundesliga.com: It was not long ago that a traditional No9 began to look like an old-fashioned position. However, many teams are playing with such a striker again. Do you sometimes wonder about how quickly things change?
Gomez: Not anymore. Football inspires an incredible number of people, but is also a sport of extremes. It is often claimed the the latest innovation is the final answer, but, in principle, to win a game you have to score goals, and the strikers usually do quite well on that front. There will always be a need for players who want to score goals.
bundesliga.com: National team coach Joachim Löw has used a "false nine" in the past...
Gomez: I never took this personally and never saw myself as a defender or deep-lying striker. I have watched Germany games where seeing a false nine has inspired me. Just because I am now back in shape and healthy, that does not mean the national team will only use me in the future. There will surely be games in which the coach can, rightly, play with a false nine. Then I would be on the bench. That's no problem at all. And there will be games where the classic striker is in demand. I'm happy to play when I'm needed.
Interview by Andreas Kötter