Created on 01-05-2008 at 00:00 AM
Despite last week’s 1-1 draw in Munich, meaning Zenit require only a goalless stalemate to make the UEFA Cup final, Bayern have arrived in St Petersburg convinced they can win the day. fcbayern.de has examined the sides under the microscope and uncovered seven good reasons why Ottmar Hitzfeld and Co. are entirely justified in their optimism.
Seven reasons in favour of Bayern
Luca Toni’s return
The Italian has ten goals in the competition in as many outings, sealing Bayern’s place in the semis with a last-gasp brace in Getafe. He was suspended for the first meeting with St. Petersburg, but returns for the decider. “We’re a better team with him,” declared manager Uli Hoeneß. fcbayern.de says: Sempre avanti - do it again, Luca! By contrast, Zenit have lost Sirl, Ricksen and Arshavin to suspension. “Arshavin’s absence is a serious blow for Zenit,” Ottmar Hitzfeld observed.
Depth of experience
Oliver Kahn, Mark van Bommel, Luca Toni, Zé Roberto, Lucio and Miroslav Klose are the obvious names, but Franck Ribéry, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger are hardly greenhorns on the European and international stage. Bayern understand and appreciate the dynamics of such an important match, but the Russians are relative novices when it comes to continental experience, starting the first leg with a line-up boasting an average age of just 22.
Bayern have yet to lose in six away matches in the UEFA Cup this term, beating Belenenses (2-0), Belgrade (3-2) and Anderlecht (5-0), with draws in Braga (1-1), Aberdeen (2-2) and Getafe (3-3). Munich have always scored at least once on their travels, firing an impressive ten in their last three away fixtures.
Unbeaten in Russia
Bayern have played in Moscow on six occasions, always scoring at least once while winning three and drawing the other three. By contrast, Zenit have yet to beat a German team at home, drawing three and losing one of four matches. The defeat came in this year’s quarter-finals, a 1-0 reverse against Bayer Leverkusen at the Petrovsky stadium.
Reds on a roll
Bayern have already won the German Cup, and the championship shield is now a formality. Hitzfeld’s men have won four on the bounce in the Bundesliga, beating outgoing champions Stuttgart 4-1 on Sunday. FCB are on an 11-game unbeaten run, whereas Zenit have won only one of the first six matches of the Russian season and lie a lowly 12th in the standings. Furthermore, St Petersburg have not played in the league for almost two weeks.
Good playing surface
Contrary to expectations, the turf at the Petrovsky stadium was lush and firm when Bayern tested the surface in final training on Wednesday. Gifted technicians such as Ribéry and Zé Roberto should find the pitch entirely to their liking. “We have an excellent chance, provided we impose our authority,” commented Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Getafe, Hitzfeld and Kahn
After the quarter-final drama in Getafe, Bayern have begun to think their name is on the Cup this year. Furthermore, both Ottmar Hitzfeld and Oliver Kahn are reaching the end of illustrious club careers. The double is in the bag, and the UEFA Cup would represent the crowning glory. The two greats will be utterly determined to bow out on an unprecedented high.