Gomez wants win over Spain at Euro 2012
Watching Spain play is a lot of fun for Germany striker Mario Gomez, and it will be even more enjoyable if he can beat the land of his father at the European Championship.
Germany was beaten by Spain at the last two major tournaments - in the final of Euro 2008 and in the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup.
Both of those games were personal disappointments for the Bayern Munich striker, a Barcelona fan who is the son of a Spanish father but was born in Germany.
But after scoring three goals in his first two games at Euro 2012, Gomez has already brought Germany within reach of the quarterfinals and a possible rematch with Spain in the final.
''I have been watching Spain a lot - they are fun to watch, not only because I am half-Spanish,'' Gomez said Friday. ''They are surely one of the favorites, but we've been getting closer over the years and our great aim is to beat Spain.''
Gomez may have a soft spot for Spain, but don't expect that to be a problem if the teams meet.
''As a player, I am 100 percent German. I play for Germany so I'm not really concerned with how Spain does,'' he said.
Given his form, Gomez could be forgiven for already thinking ahead to the knockout stages.
Gomez was widely considered Germany's second-choice striker, behind Miroslav Klose, coming into the tournament. Yet, thigh and back problems have left Klose struggling for fitness and coach Joachim Loew selected Gomez for the team's first match, against Portugal.
Although he scored the winner, Gomez could not escape criticism from home. Mehmet Scholl, a former Germany player who is now a coach at Bayern and a television commentator, told an audience of millions he was afraid the striker would develop ''bed sores'' because he found himself on the ground so often.
Gomez said the criticism hurt.
''You score the winner against a tough opponent and you still get heaped on. But the coach told me to forget it all and that he was happy with the way I played,'' Gomez said. ''However, you still feel that you are under enormous pressure and it only eased after the match against the Netherlands.''
Gomez scored two great goals in the 2-1 win over Germany's historic rival, enough to silence the critics back home.
''It's important for us to know that we have a striker who can score even from half a chance,'' said midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who set up both goals. ''Right now, we have the feeling that all we have to do is kick the ball up front and Mario is there. And in the penalty box, he is top class.''
In the last two Bundesliga seasons, he scored 54 goals in 65 games. He scored 43 goals for Bayern in all competitions this season, including 12 in the Champions League where he led Bayern to the final.
He set a German record by averaging 0.52 goals a match in three seasons for Stuttgart, where he won Bundesliga title.
But for the national team, Gomez has never lived up to expectations. Until now.
Four years ago, he was remembered for missing from about a meter (yard) out in a match against Austria that the Germans needed to win to advance from the group stage. They did, but Gomez didn't play a major role after that.
At the World Cup two years later, it was Klose who scored the important goals. Now, it's Gomez's time in the spotlight.