Chicharito slump not a reason for panic for Mexico, Leverkusen fans

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The Mexican forward hasn't scored in two months, but he's proven before that he can break out of a lull and get on a hot streak when needed.

Generally a baker's dozen is a delight. Instead of getting a traditional dozen — 12 — the humble baker hooks you up with an extra (13th) item at the cost of "on the house." This is a good place to be at when you're talking about Danishes. It is a bad place to be at when you're talking about matches since a forward had scored a goal.

Yet, when you look at club and country, 13 matches is exactly what the scoreless streak sits for Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. The issues were exacerbated when he stepped up and failed to convert a kick from the penalty spot last time out in Bayer Leverkusen's 1-1 draw with Freiburg. That penalty miss especially set the experts off howling. How could this once-deadly forward miss from 18 yards away? How could this man of goal streaks suddenly go so cold?

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Pundits in Mexico were — and still are — comparing his scoreless games in the Bundesliga with Liga MX playoff matches in which Mexican players were able to finish, as though one had any bearing on the other.

Chicharito's next chance to find the back of the net comes Wednesday when Bayer Leverkusen faces Monaco in the UEFA Champions League. And he might not score at home against the Ligue 1 side in a match that will see both sides go through to the round of 16 no matter result. But that's fine. His goal in the away match against Monaco — a 1-1 draw in September — is one of the reasons Leverkusen is able to put its feet up and cruise in this contest.

Forwards go through streaks, and while Chicharito is in an unsuccessful period, that's no reason for panic for club or country.

Sure, this is his longest slump since late 2014 into the beginning of 2015, when he went scoreless from mid-November to late March. But just like that, he scored four goals for Real Madrid in April, including a significant Champions League tally in a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid and a domestic double to help Los Blancos over Celta de Vigo. Once he breaks out of the current dry spell, he could be set for more. His current club coach, Roger Schmidt, has no doubt that the breakthrough is coming.

"I haven't taken [Hernandez] to one side to speak to him," the coach said Tuesday at a news conference. "Every striker goes through a difficult patch, and Javier just so happens to be going through one at the moment. I know it's only a matter of time before he starts scoring again, though."

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It seems like only a fool would think otherwise. At no stage in his career, whether with the national team or in his stops at Chivas, Manchester United, Real Madrid and now Leverkusen, has Chicharito not scored. His movement in the box and his finishing ability is well known among teammates and opponents alike. This drought will not last for four more years until Hernandez retires.

What has him in this slump? Is it personal issues, with his career putting him far from his girlfriend in Spain for the moment? Is it a mental block, with the pressure of being "the man" at Leverkusen and the potential top scorer for his country weighing down on him? Or is it just like Schmidt says, that sometimes forwards go through periods of time when they don't score?

Whatever the answer, it won't last long. Chicharito is struggling now, but soon enough the same writers and commentators pointing to his weaknesses will again be hailing his strengths. You can be as sure of that as you can of the warm, happy feeling that comes over you when you get an extra pastry from the baker down the street.

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