FOOTBALL: Mario Gomez was seen to be a luxury for most German fans ahead of Euro 2016.
That might have also been the view of coach Joachim Low, who before the tournament began looked to start Mario Gotze in a “false nine”.
But with the Germans struggling for goals in the early part of the group stages, Low turned to Gomez, who responded with strikes in the wins over Northern Ireland and Slovakia in the 3-0 last 16 success.
Despite not being universally popular with German supporters, his goalscoring record for Besiktas in Turkey, where he was on loan from Fiorentina last season, was good, hitting the net 26 times in 33 games in the Turkish league.
He also has 29 goals in 67 games for Germany, which is the best record in Low’s squad.
Gomez does not care whether he plays a full game in the quarter-final against Italy tomorrow morning (AEST) or 15 minutes for the national team, as he only has one goal.
“I really only care about winning the European Championship,” he said.
“If the coach needs me for 15 minutes, I’ll be there.”
Gomez missed out on a World Cup spot two years ago as Germany went on to beat Argentina in the final.
He is now desperate to be involved in more success for his nation.
Germany might find that hard as it has not beaten Italy in eight past tournament meetings.
New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has the Azzurri playing well and will be full of confidence after defeating reigning champion Spain in the last 16.
Portugal is the first team through to the semi-finals after beating Poland 5-4 in a penalty shootout after the game finished 1-1 after extra time.
Robert Lewandowski put the Poles in front after two minutes before Renato Sanches equalised on 33 minutes.
Ricardo Quaresma scored the winning spot-kick after Jakub Blaszczykowski’s effort was saved by Rui Patricio.
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