Stuttgart are desperate for goals as the team have failed to put the ball in the back of the net in their last four Bundesliga matches. Is the return of striker Mario Gomez what they have been missing?
Usually there isn't a dry season in Stuttgart as the city receives moderate precipitation year-round but when it comes to goals, this December has been the driest of months for the Swabians. Zero goals in their last four games have amounted to zero points, leaving the team just two points away from the relegation zone.
Last season the club relied heavily on striker Simon Terodde's nose for goal. The player had four assists and scored 25 goals in 32 games, becoming the top scorer in Germany’s second division.
However, it has been a different story ever since Stuttgart’s promotion. Terodde, a striker with minimal top-flight experience, has only managed one assist and two goals in 15 matches this Bundesliga season. The club have announced Terodde is moving to Cologne, leaving a gap in Stuttgart's attack which they have quickly filled by signing their former striker Mario Gomez from Wolfsburg.
With more than 150 Bundesliga goals and 71 caps and 31 goals with the German national team, Gomez is one of the most experienced forwards in the Bundesliga.
"With Mario Gomez, we will have a scorer of the highest quality," Stuttgart’s sporting director Michael Reschke said.
But Gomez, who came through the club's youth system, is far from in his best form.
Last season, Gomez scored 16 goals in 33 matches and scored a crucial penalty during Wolfsburg's relegation play-off match.
While the striker has contributed three assists in 15 Bundesliga matches this season, he has only been able to score once.
The lack of goals is not due to a lack of chances either. Gomez has already missed the target twice from the penalty spot with Wolfsburg, once against Schalke away at the end of October and the week after against Hertha Berlin at home.
At first glance, the former Bayern Munich forward does not appear to be much of a catch for a team thirsty for goals.
Memories of 2007
It has been a decade since Stuttgart last lifted the Bundesliga title. Gomez played an instrumental role during the championship season of 2006/07. Back then a 21-year-old Gomez was the club's top goalscorer with 14 goals and one of Germany's top prospects.
Today, Gomez's return to Stuttgart is about much more than just football. His return is a reminder of the club's glory days, a reminder they are still one of Germany's largest and most traditional clubs.
"I am very happy to return home, to the place where it all began," Gomez said.
With other players from the 2006/07 squad such as Andreas Beck and captain Christian Gentner in the team, Gomez's comeback to Stuttgart was a natural move.
At 32, Gomez has something other than coming home on his mind. The striker knows that Germany coach Joachim Löw could still consider him as an option for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
"Now it is all about staying in the league, playing a good second round and for me personally reaching the World Cup," said Gomez.
It is good news for Stuttgart as Gomez's only chance to prove himself to Löw and secure a spot in the World Cup squad will be through goals – a flood of them.