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Strikers head-to-head

Il Bomber v Super Mario for scorer crown

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Luca Toni chased lost causes, thrust into the box at every opportunity and enjoyed a host of chances, but it was one of those nights for the Italian as the Bielefeld defence crowded him out, keeper Rowen Fernandez performed heroics, the striker aimed just wide of the target, or he was hauled back for offside and a handball. For all his effort, Il Bomber was destined to go home empty-handed on Wednesday.

"Luca was desperate to score tonight but missed out," reflected Uli Hoeneß, while Ottmar Hitzfeld felt his leading scorer "lacked the little bit of luck you always need.“ It is hardly a crisis that Luca has not scored in his last two league outings, but it has added a note of tension to the run-in, as his lead in the scoring charts is steadily slipping away.

Gomez on a charge

Bayern's Bomber continues to top the list on 21 goals, but VfB Stuttgart hitman Mario Gomez is breathing down his neck after the Germany international notched at the weekend and then fired a midweek brace, moving onto 18 goals for the season to halve Toni's lead in the space of two matches.

Two fixtures remain before the final totting up process. Toni and FCB play Duisburg and Berlin, Gomez and VfB meet Wolfsburg and Bielefeld. The Italian's team-mates will do all they can to help in that time. "It would be good for the leading scorer to be one of us," confirmed Mark van Bommel.

Stay relaxed

Bayern certainly tried to find Toni at every opportunity against Bielefeld. "The team played for Luca today, Ribéry tried to place every cross on his head," remarked Hitzfeld. "The players kept looking for him and willing him to score, but it didn't work out," Hoeneß agreed.

Perhaps the team had become too preoccupied with their talismanic striker, Van Bommel pondered afterwards. "You shouldn't get hung up on that sort of thing, you need to stay relaxed," the Dutchman argued, "as we saw, if you aim every single ball at him, it doesn't work out.“ In any case, Toni may not even need to score again, as Stuttgart's Super Mario still needs three more to catch up - and Stuttgart face opponents with plenty left to play for this term.