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UEFA Cup build-up

Toni set to return as Aris put end to slump

World Cup winning hitman Luca Toni is poised to return for Bayern in Wednesday’s decisive UEFA Cup group encounter with Aris Saloniki. The Italian, ruled out of Saturday’s goalless draw in Berlin with a tight hamstring, successfully came through the Munich squad workout on Sunday. Defender Willy Sagnol is also back in training after shaking off a back problem.

“I’m hoping Luca can play,“ coach Ottmar Hitzfeld commented. Bayern cannot afford to lose Wednesday’s home match at the Allianz Arena, where a few seats remain unsold at the present time, as their survival in the competition would then be dependent on results elsewhere. Victory would see the men in red through to the knockout stages as group winners.

Aris return to winning ways

Midfield ace Mark van Bommel sat out the Sunday session after taking a knock in Berlin, but the Dutchman is not rated doubtful for the European tie. Oliver Kahn returns in goal after serving a one-match club ban, Hitzfeld confirmed.

In contrast to Bayern, midweek opponents Aris Salonika go into the tie on the back of a win. The three-time Greek champions defeated visiting AO Xanthi 2-0 on Saturday courtesy of goals from Nacho Garcia (63) and Felipe Sanchon (87) to go fifth in the Superliga. Aris thus put a stop to a mini-slump which brought three defeats in their three previous league outings.

All to play for in Group F

Saloniki are also not yet certain of their place in the UEFA Cup knockout round and could be eliminated from the competition in the event of defeat in Munich. Ahead of the final matchday, Bolton Wanderers lead Group F on six points after completing their fixtures. The Premier League side are followed by Saloniki (5), Bayern (5), Sporting Braga (3) and Red Star Belgrade (0), with only the Serbs definitely out of the running.