Pokal Reflections: Mario Gomez and Martin Harnik Steal the Show as Bayern Gets Their Treble Glory in Historic Final

On Saturday night in Berlin, FC Bayern entrenched their club in history one last time in what has been a historic 2012/13, completing the treble in a 3-2 classic over Stuttgart. The win gave Bayern the first treble in German football history and makes the club the seventh team to take the honors of winning their league title, league cup and the European Cup in one season. A team that suffered just three league losses all season could not be more deserving of that as Jupp Heynckes goes out in style as one of the best managers in league history.

A game that very easily could have been a victory party for Bayern after Mario Gomez put in a second half brace was anything but as a Stuttgart side that stayed in the game in the first half made a furious comeback attempt in the game’s final 30 minutes, rebounding from what seemed to be a sure Bayern win and putting some fear in the European champs after Martin Harnik scored in the 80th minute, giving Stuttgart ten minutes to find an equalizer to send the game into extra time.

In the end Bayern held on to their lead, and a magical final season for Heynckes was complete. The club that just one year ago suffered one of their most difficult stretch as they lost the 2012 league title, Pokal Final and the Champions League in one month avenged those demons one by one with a record-breaking season that surpassed all expectations anyone could have expected for their 2012/13 season by attaining a record-setting amount of points in the Bundesliga while going on one of the most dominant Pokal runs in history in addition to their redemption in the Champions League. It is safe to say that this Bayern squad will go down as one of the best ever in club history as well as in football history as they join Celtic, Ajax, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Manchester United as the only clubs to complete the treble.

Redemption for Gomez

After not featuring in the Champions League final at Wembley and appearing to be on the outs at the club as Pep Guardiola takes over next season, Mario Gomez made the most of getting the start from Heynckes, scoring a second half brace that at the end of the day was the difference as his second goal turned out to be the winner as Bayern held on to their 3-nil lead in the game’s final moments.

Both goals were classic Bayern-era Mario Gomez, one touch finishes in the box after a brilliant piece of team football from one of his many world-class partners in the midfield. Great buildup from Lahm and Robben led to the first tap-in goal and a brilliant ball from Thomas Müller led to the second as the two goals showed why Gomez is still one of the game’s top strikers despite his reduced role at the club. Is there a more efficient finisher in the box than Gomez up for grabs this summer?

17 goals in all club competitions this season before tonight’s performance show that Gomez can still be a contributor to a top club as there are very little players that are as pure of goalscorers once inside the box as the 27-year-old. Yet with Guardiola coming in for next season and the emergence of the slightly more fluid Mario Mandzukic, Gomez’ days are numbered at Bayern as the rumors of Robert Lewandowski’s transfer from Dortmund become more and more of a reality and the likelihood of Super Mario’s exit from the club he left Stuttgart for is at an all time high.

Still, he is a prolific scorer who will more than likely land at a big club this summer if he does leave Bayern as the demand for a player with the ability to finish is something that will always be desired. His all around play is just not up to the Guardiola standard as Bayern’s system becomes more and more technically demanding, a puzzle that might not see Gomez as a fitting piece.

Regardless of what unfolds in the coming months, Mario Gomez will go down as a special player in the modern Bayern era. Two 25+ goal seasons with the club will guarantee that fact. If tonight was the last time we will see Mario Gomez in an FC Bayern kit you could not paint a more perfect ending as two classic Gomez finishes in the box show exactly why he had taken the Bundesliga by storm in the first place. A special ending for a special player whose strengths may just not fit in with the direction his club is headed.

Martin Harnik Steals the Show as Stuttgart Makes the Final One to Remember

With his club down 3-nil with just under half an hour left in the match, Stuttgart’s Martin Harnik took the stage in Berlin with a magical answer to Gomez’ brace with two clutch goals of his own to drag Stuttgart back from the brink and breathe life into a Stuttgart side that looked as if it was left for dead after a first half they did well to stay in before Traore took down Lahm in the box late.

A classy header off a cross from substitute Gotoku Saki gave Harnik his first goal and pulled Stuttgart within just two in the 71st minute as the underdogs quickly recovered from the shock of the Gomez brace early in the half and started to create some of the chances they had in the first half, desperately trying to claw back into a match against a side that only lost to three German clubs in 2012/13.

Ten minutes later Saki and Harnik would link up again, this time with Saki striking the crossbar and the ball landing on Harnik’s feet. Neuer denied Harnik initially, but the ball found his feet on the rebound and he made no mistake with another crack at goal, slotting it home and pulling his side withing one with ten minutes left to play.

In the end Harnik’s magical Berlin moment was not enough as Shinji Okazaki misplaced a free header from in close that might have sent the match to extra time and Stuttgart were forced to deal with what could have been as they finished with a flurry in a game that saw their players represent their club in a manner that all those around Stuttgart should be proud of.

In a game that very well could have been a Bayern victory parade, 90 minutes of football in the way of the club celebrating the title, Harnik and Stuttgart turned it into a special match that everyone will be able to look back on fondly as the pesky underdogs in Stuttgart gave Bayern everything they had in Berlin on the final night of the 2012/13 Bundesliga calendar. They should hold their heads high knowing that they were more than deserving finalists, something that was evident in the performance they put out on the pitch.

Special End to a Special Season for Bayern and the Bundesliga

In a season that was supposed to be a battle between Dortmund and Bayern for Bundesliga supremacy that turned into a rejuvenation of FCB’s reputation as the dominant German club it was only fitting that a special collection of some of the game’s best talent that overcame their demons of the past finished by holding onto their 3-nil lead, denying a Stuttgart Cinderella bid and finishing off what was one of the best Pokal runs in the history of the German Cup.  Harnik’s two goal comeback excluded from the below tweet obviously.

Seeing the Bayern players wearing shirts with “Triple” on them instead of the typical T-Mobile advertisements and holding up shirts for Holger Badstuber who has been out with injury and for Dante and Luiz Gustavo, who were reported to have left Bayern camp with tears in their eyes having to miss the final due to Confederations Cup camp for Brazil, you could see what made this year’s Bayern team so special.

A group of talent that suffered the ultimate lows of the end of last season regrouped with the additions of Dante, Javi Martinez and Mandzukic and grew into the best club in the world under our very eyes. In the Champions League Final, Robben conquered his demons from last spring with a late winner. Tonight Mario Gomez did the same with his two second half goals proving the difference, but in nearly every game a different Bayern player could have been lauded as they have grown into a unit that has in one season turned into one of the special groups that we as football fans love to see grow in front of our eyes.

In the 50th year of the Bundesliga we have seen countless special moments from Bayern as well as the rest of the league as the growth of German football that has been on the rise with each passing year might have just hit the beginning of its climax in 2013. While Bayern may have taken the spotlight in the big picture, many clubs can look back on the 50th year of the Bundesliga fondly. Dortmund continued its rise in the ranks of Europe’s elite, surviving a CL “Group of Death” with Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City before finding late magic against Malaga and dispatching Real Madrid in the semifinal in what was a magical run to Wembley for the club. Eintracht Frankfurt went all the way from promotion to the Europe League, threatening at the Champions League for much of the season. SC Freiburg nearly made its own Champions League dream a reality, staying in the race until the final matchday of the season, losing to Schalke.

Bayern’s record-breaking dominance may skew the picture, and their addition of Mario Götze and rumored acquisition of Lewandowski have put  a damper on what should be a celebration of a season in which the league got to put itself on the world stage, showing a product that many have seemed to enjoy. From the pageantry of the great supporters from throughout the league to the emergence of some of the game’s best players and clubs in 2012/13 the Bundesliga has continued to show why it is a league that can’t be ignored by the football fan.

All of those things were on display tonight as both Bayern and Stuttgart fans filled Berlin for a fitting finale to the 50th year of the Bundesliga. Bayern’s run to a three goal lead showed what made them so dominant this season, just a cut above their opponents while Harnik’s comeback for Stuttgart showed that despite the statistical gap between Bayern and their opponents, the “other’ clubs are still by no means weak fodder as Stuttgart gave a performance that was nearly on par with the European champions after ninety minutes.

The summer can wait for the speculation and the concern for spending out of Bayern that is adding to an already stocked war chest of talent that is raising concerns about parity in seasons to come as the Guardiola era at the Allianz begins. For now we can sit back after a great end to a memorable year of Bundesliga football that saw the first ever German treble winners send off one of the league’s most special figures as a player and coach in Jupp Heynckes in style. FC Bayern are the German champions and the champions of Europe, a true representative of the growth of the German game. What happens next year and in the summer can loom on tomorrow, today German football is in the spotlight as Bayern joins the elite list of treble winners as the seventh club to do the feat. No matter your club, you can appreciate a season that has seen the German game take over.

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