GERMANY STRIKER Mario Gomez insists his Euro 2012 campaign is still alive despite losing his place to Miroslav Klose.
The 26-year-old Gomez was preferred to the Lazio veteran for each of his side’s three group games but, despite scoring three goals, was dropped for the 4-2 victory over Greece that sealed their place in the final four.
Klose scored against Fernando Santos’ team and could start again against Italy on Thursday, but Gomez is adamant that he still has a part to play.
“I’m not out of the tournament yet,” he told Kicker. “I know that (being on the bench) wasn’t good for me, but I can still contribute significantly, and help us take the title.
“I will not let it rankle, Miro (Klose) said it perfectly: ‘It’s good for the team to have two good strikers’. It’s even better that I’m doing well now. In 2008, it didn’t work out for me, and I didn’t play in 2010.
“We are both very important players. I have shown that I can play and score important goals, even if Miro is here. We have competition of the highest level.
“There is a very fair fight, and he’s very enthusiastic, despite being 34-years-old. Of course I would have liked to have played against Greece. But we’d have to talk to the coach. If I were in his place, I’d do what’s best for the team.”
Germany will have the chance to set up a second consecutive European Championship final clash with Spain when they face Italy in Warsaw. And Gomez noted the Azzurri’s change of style under Cesare Prandelli and recognised the threat they posed.
“Italy played offensively against England (in the quarter-final),” he said. “I said before the tournament that Italy are strong. The team have good players and they work well together.
“It is no longer the Italy team of the last three or four years.”
With Cristiano Ronaldo suffering elimination with Portugal in Wednesday’s semi-final against Spain, Gomez’s chances of being crowned the tournament’s top-scorer have increased. The Bayern Munich hitman maintained, however, that collective success is far more important to him than winning individual accolades.
“If I become a European champion, I don’t care whether I have absolute recognition or not,” Gomez said. “That way, I will have reached my goal with the team.
“Between 2008 and 2010 I exhausted myself because I wanted to please everyone. At one point, I asked myself whether I was having fun with the national team, or whether I was just out to convince critics. So I came out of the rut and am now able to play well.”
Finally, Gomez warned his team-mates that they must not underestimate Spain should they reach the final, despite the criticism La Roja have received for some of their performances so far.
“One must not underestimate the Spaniards, even if they don’t always shine here,” Gomez said. “It will be difficult. In the final, it would be 51:49 in their favour because they are the world and European champions. But first we need to get past Italy.”