Created on 13-08-2007 at 00:00 AM
After 70 minutes of Saturday’s match at the Allianz Arena, Luca Toni raised his left arm and nodded towards Miroslav Klose, who delivered an inviting cross towards the big Italian’s head. Toni came within a whisker of connecting, but was left sitting a touch ruefully in the Hansa Rostock penalty box, before getting up and applauding his German strike partner. The move exemplified a fine day for what Uli Hoeneß described as Bayern’s new “dream strike pairing”. Ottmar Hitzfeld later joined in the chorus of praise: “They looked for each other, and they found each other. It was a dream start.“
The deadly duo notched all three goals on the afternoon, an early strike for Toni and a second half brace for Klose, who also laid on Toni’s tap-in. “It’s good when strikers get off the mark in the first match, it takes the pressure off,“ Hitzfeld observed.
The players’ individual track records pointed at goals to come, so the surprise on Saturday was evidence of an immediate and instinctive understanding between the pair. Toni and Klose had last played together 31 days earlier in a 4-0 warm-up victory over Schaffhausen, before the injury which sidelined the Italian for almost four weeks.
“I didn’t think it would work as well as that right from the start,” Toni admitted. “We combined well,“ agreed Klose, a lone striker for more than half the pre-season period and visibly invigorated by the presence of the big man at his side. “Miro exploded with Toni alongside him,“ Hitzfeld remarked, “he gained from Toni’s strength and physical presence in taking out opponents.”
Risk pays off
Toni was in fact a surprise starter at the weekend after resuming the squad programme just a few days earlier. “I spent a long time thinking over whether to field Luca Toni,” Hitzfeld revealed. The coach’s summary after 90 minutes was delivered with a smile: “I believe the risk we took in picking Luca Toni paid off.”
The striker is clearly not yet 100 percent fit, “but you’re always totally fired up for the first match, and it releases extra adrenalin. Luca gritted his teeth and ran further and harder than his current fitness would normally allow,“ Hitzfeld continued, “he was a constant threat and won a huge number of challenges. He always went looking for the ball.“
Hitzfeld never doubted that his two top strikers would harmonise at an early stage. “I was sure it would go well,” he insisted. “In pre-season, we worked hard on sticking close to each other and looking to play one-twos,“ Klose revealed.
The pair played off each other admirably in their first Bundesliga match together, never better than in the 14th minute when Klose, with only Rostock keeper Stefan Wächter to beat, elected to square for Toni to slot home the opener. “That was incredibly unselfish. I was pleased with that,” Hitzfeld observed.
“You’ve got to be delighted at having a partner as good as him,“ Toni commented afterwards, thanking the German for laying on his first Bundesliga goal and promising to repay the compliment. “Miro helped me score, and I’ll do the same for him in the future.”
Klose had plenty of reasons to celebrate even without an assist from his new partner, initially claiming a classic poacher’s goal after Wächter spilled a Philipp Lahm shot, and then bulleting a header into the net for Bayern’s third. There followed Klose’s first trademark overhead somersault goal celebration in a red shirt. “That’s something I’ve not done in a very long time, so it was good to find out if I still had it in me,“ Klose joked. It will surely not be the last piece of acrobatics from the player this term.