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 Group E tonight.
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 Dutchman. "I think we will see a very good Mario Gomez in the next few weeks."
Gomez cost Bayern around €30m (£27m) when he joined from VFB Stuttgart before the start of last season but struggled to get into a side which also boasted Franck Ribéry, 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 Ribéry on the injury list against Hanover. Bayern have enjoyed some relief from their injury crisis ahead of tonight's game with Olic recovering from a broken nose and Daniel van Buyten having got over a back injury.
Roma will again be without forwards Mirko Vucinic, Adriano and Jeremy Menez for their Group E match at home to Basle while midfielder Daniele de Rossi will also miss out.
The club said in a statement that the quartet had still not recovered from injuries which forced them to miss Saturday's 2-1 Serie A win over Genoa.
Francesco Totti and Marco Borriello are therefore expected to again lead the line, with Roma looking for their second win having beaten CFR Cluj last time out.