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Croat all-rounder

Mandzukic: First the party, then the finals

Gerd ‘Der Bomber’ Müller of course, but also Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Roland Wohlfarth, Giovane Elber, Roy Makaay, Luca Toni... many a striker has become a Bayern crowd hero over the decades. But this season, the home faithful at the Allianz Arena have come to know and – judging by the frenetic applause – also to love a different kind of front man, a player who is a striker and the first line of defence: Mario Mandzukic.

It's because he always tracks back to the edge of his own penalty box; the way he robs opponents of possession in midfield; the way he never shirks a challenge; and his tireless, unceasing effort for the team, his harrying of opposing players, and his creating space for team-mates. It is an exceptional combination. “He played as a striker, midfielder and right-back. It was unbelievable!” declared Javi Martínez after the Champions League quarter-final home leg against Juventus. Mandzu is a fighter – “Football is a man’s game. You get stuck in. I love it,“ he says - and he scores goals too, 21 in total this term, level with Thomas Müller at the top of the club’s scoring chart.