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Robben and Gomez

Potent partnership in the making

The Robben/Gomez combination has already produced two goals under match conditions in Dubai, as Mario Gomez twice clinically put away chances laid on by Arjen Robben. “It was good yesterday,” Robben said on Tuesday, reviewing a successful start to the winter training camp. For his part, Gomez is not surprised that the players have picked matters up where they left off before Christmas: “You don’t lose a lot of form in two weeks.”

Gomez scored in each of the last five Bundesliga matches before the mid-season break, and now has a total of 12 goals in 24 outings in all competitions. “I don’t believe in setting any kind of targets. I’ve never aimed at a fixed total of goals,” the 23-year-old insisted. However, he is naturally keen to boost his hit rate across the course of the second half of the campaign, as Mario has only just truly found his feet at FCB.

“I’ve proved it to myself again: You can make your own luck if you work hard, and you’ll always be rewarded for it,” he mused. The former Stuttgart man scored goals right from the start of his time at the club, but Louis Van Gaal felt he was not combining effectively enough with the rest of the team and dropped him to the bench, the striker recalled. All that has changed now.

“We’ve all got to know each other very well now. You know the runs your team-mates are going to make and the passes they like to play,” reported Gomez, who like the other players needed time to absorb Van Gaal’s footballing philosophy. “All the players understand better what the coach wants,” confirmed Robben, “but we can still improve. We’re not at our peak, but we’re on the right track.”

Keen anticipation