Created on 21-04-2008 at 00:00 AM
In a mood best described as a little weary but extremely upbeat, the Bayern squad gathered on Monday afternoon to begin preparations for Thursday’s UEFA Cup semi-final home leg against Zenit St. Petersburg. Two days after winning the DFB German Cup against Borussia Dortmund, the stars have already turned their focus to the next major task, securing a passage to the European final.
”We want to make history, and we have a huge opportunity to do just that. It would be a dream come true,” declared Bastian Schweinsteiger as the Reds continue their pursuit of four trophies this term. The League and DFB Cups are already safely in the Säbener Strasse trophy cabinet, Munich require two victories at most from five remaining matches to seal the Bundesliga crown, and only the Russian champions stand in the way of a glittering success on the continental stage.
Van Bommel keen to feature
The players who did not appear in the Cup final completed a double dose of training on Monday, while the regulars performed a series of exercises aimed at regeneration. Their number included Mark van Bommel, who started the day in hospital having an examination after sustaining a broken nose in the Cup final. Doctors have advised the Dutch ace to undergo surgery, but the midfielder has declined, taking personal responsibility for the decision.
Van Bommel is determined to play against St. Petersburg and then again in Sunday’s potential championship decider at home to VfB Stuttgart, it was reported. The 30-year-old may wear a special face mask to protect the injury. A final decision on Mark’s fitness for the forthcoming fixtures will be taken once the coaching staff have observed training over the next few days.
Toni as biggest fan
One man who will definitely not be in the team to face St. Petersburg is striker Luca Toni. The man who leads all the scoring charts he is eligible to contest is suspended this week after reaching five yellow cards in the UEFA Cup. “We’ve scored goals before without Luca Toni,” Schweisteiger pointed out. The goal-getting responsibilities would now pass to Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. “I’m not worried at all,” Schweinsteiger continued.
Toni himself believes the Cup winners will do just fine in his absence. “It’ll be a tough match, and we all know how important it is. But we have a great team. We’re confident, we want to complete a perfect season and win the triple. I’ll be Bayern’s biggest fan on Thursday,” the Italian declared. The only other man definitely out of the semi-final first leg is fractured metatarsal victim Hamit Altintop.