Nurnberg, Germany – Bayern Munich has demolished foes without its top scorer from last season Mario Gomez, and the German striker is quickly working his way back from surgery.
Gomez returned to competitive action Tuesday, scoring four times in a friendly against local sixth-division club FC Falke Markt Schwaben, and may earn a role Saturday when Bayern visits Nurnberg in Bundesliga play.
"It was a great game from Mario," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said. "Mario's been out for three months. My job is to exercise caution about bringing him back."
Although Gomez could prove to be excess goods at this point, when healthy, the 27-year-old is one of the top scorers in the world and played the full game on Tuesday.
Offseason additions Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro have replaced Gomez up top, helping Bayern produce 32 goals in just 11 Bundesliga games. While Bayern waits for Gomez to return to 100 percent, the scoring duties seem secure.
Coach Jupp Heynckes will have to figure out how to get Gomez into a rotation that has been dominated by Mandzukic and his league-high eight goals. Pizarro, in his second stint with Bayern, had a Champions League hat trick last week.
But a confident Gomez expects to reclaim his job as the top striker.
"I've always delivered when it matters and scored important goals," Gomez said after his return. "And I'll keep doing that, once I'm back to 100 percent. I'm enjoying being back with the squad."
Bayern still has other injury concerns, as Arjen Robben will be out this week and for the Champions League fixture at Valencia, and Luiz Gustavo and Franck Ribery could also sit out this weekend.
Defender Holger Badstuber is set to return from injury this weekend, which is another boost with fellow center back Jerome Boateng injured against Eintracht and set for a spell on the sidelines with a pulled muscle.
Bayern is perfect on the road this season, posting shutouts in every match and scoring a combined 15 goals in five matches.
Nurnberg will try to upset Bayern, which has 10 wins from 11 games, Bayern is seven points clear in the standings and the class of the league.
Meanwhile, Nurnberg sits on just 11 points - 19 behind Bayern - and just above the relegation zone after 11 games.
Second-place Schalke visits fifth-place Bayer Leverkusen in the lone game with two two-half squads, and both will seek full points Saturday to avoid losing even more ground on Bayern.
Eintracht remains in third after its third loss in five matches, but will have a chance to get back on track when it hosts last-place Augsburg on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund takes renewed confidence from two great matches against Real Madrid in the Champions League into its home match Saturday against Greuther Furth as it tries to climb into the top three, while Hannover will try to stay in the top six when it hosts Freiburg on Saturday.
Also Saturday, Mainz visits Hamburg and Stuttgart visits Monchengladbach. On Sunday, Werder Bremen hosts Dusseldorf and Hoffenheim hosts Wolfsburg.