Gomez finally finding form for Bayern

MUNICH - Bayern Munich's injury crisis has finally given striker Mario Gomez a chance to start repaying the huge investment the club made in him last year.

Gomez, who has found himself on the substitutes' bench with frustrating regularity since he became the Bundesliga's most expensive signing last season, burst out of his shell on Saturday with a hat-trick against Hanover 96.

He is likely to get another chance to silence his critics when the Bavarians host Romanian champions Cluj in Champions League Group E on Tuesday.

Gomez had not hit the target this season before Saturday and coach Louis van Gaal said his performance could provide the springboard he needed to get his Bayern career moving.

"It's very important for a striker when his self-belief comes back," said the flamboyant Dutchman.

"I think we will see a very good Mario Gomez in the next few weeks."

Gomez cost Bayern around 30 million euros when he joined from VFB Stuttgart before the start of last season but struggled to get into a side which also boasted Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Ivica Olic and Miroslav Klose.

He managed 13 goals including 10 in the Bundesliga, but they were not enough to stop him being written off as a flop.

This time, he has been given more chances, especially after Klose and Olic joined Robben and Ribery on the injury list against Hanover.

"When one plays for 90 minutes, one always has more chances and possibilities to excel," said Gomez. "I've always known that I can do it."

The Champions League has already offered both teams a respite from their dismal league form.

Bayern, stuck in midtable after eight games of the Bundesliga, top Group E with six points from their opening two games while Cluj have three points from a surprise opening win over Swiss champions FC Basel.

Cluj, double winners last season, are 12th in the Romanian league after a 5-3 defeat at Vaslui on Friday.

Bayern have enjoyed some relief from their injury crisis with Olic recovering from a broken nose and Daniel van Buyten having got over a back injury.

Teams (probable):

Bayern Munich: 1-Joerg Butt; 21-Philipp Lahm, 5-Daniel van Buyten, 6-Martin Demichelis, 28-Holger Badstuber; 23-Daniel Pranjic, 31-Bastian Schweinsteiger, 25-Thomas Mueller, 39-Toni Kroos; 33-Mario Gomez, 11-Ivica Olic

Cluj: 1-Nuno Claro; 4-Cristian Panin, 20-Cadu, 15-Hugo Alcantara, 24-Ionut Rada; 19-Juan Culio, 22-Ioan Hora, 6-Gabriel Muresan, 7-Emil Dica; 16-Rafael Bastos, 9-Lacina Traore