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Football: Gomez still Bayern back-up despite hat-trick

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez warmed up for next week's Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona with a hat-trick in just six minutes, but the Germany star has been told he is still only a back-up striker.

Gomez came off the bench for the last 13 minutes of Bayern's 6-1 German Cup semi-final win over VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday, but still managed to score a hat-trick against a tiring Wolves defence.

The 27-year-old has spent much of the season on Bayern's bench as back-up to first-choice striker Mario Mandzukic, who is suspended for next Tuesday's visit by Barcelona.

Despite his three goals, Gomez is not guaranteed to start against Barcelona with veteran Claudio Pizarro also in the mix having scored four goals in last month's 9-2 rout of Hamburg and at Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final.

"We've seen that when Mandzukic is tired, I still have options," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, with Bayern at Hanover 96 on Saturday in the Bundesliga before facing Barca in Munich.

"I'm pleased for Mario, he worked really well tonight."

Gomez's agent, Uli Ferber, has said his client is unhappy to be Mandzukic's back-up and last weekend told German daily Bild the situation can not go on "indefinitely".

Having cost Bayern 35 million euros (US$39.44m) from VfB Stuttgart in 2009, Gomez has scored 72 goals in 110 league games and there is reported interest from Premier League sides Chelsea and Manchester City.

After his impressive goals, Bayern president Uli Hoeness heaped praise on him.

Having been presented with a simple tap-in from Xherdan Shaqiri on 80 minutes, Gomez profited from two superb passes by Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger as he doubled Munich's tally in the dying minutes.

"Mario received some wonderful passes and used them like he was finishing them in his sleep. He's done very well," said Hoeness.

Bayern's director of sport Matthias Sammer simply insisted "the trainer gives everyone the feeling he is important and needed" when asked about Gomez's situation.

Gomez could not have done much more to state his case for starting against Barcelona, but Bayern's attack is in hot form having scored 24 goals in their last six games, conceding just three.

Having booked their place in the German Cup final, Bayern will face either VfB Stuttgart or Freiburg at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on June 1 and are bidding to become Germany's first team to win the treble, having already won the Bundesliga title.

ryj/nr

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130417/football-gomez-still-bayern-back-despite-hat-trick