Created on 20-10-2008 at 00:00 AM
“Markus!“ shouted Luca Toni, impatiently tapping his left wrist as he waited for FCB Media Director Markus Hörwick to take the seat next to him at Monday’s scheduled news conference. On the eve of Bayern’s Champions League showdown with AC Fiorentina, it was obvious to all and sundry that Toni cannot wait for the game to begin.
“Obviously, it’s a very special match for me,” the striker declared, making no secret of his delight at the prospect of facing his former club. Toni appeared for the Florence outfit from 2005 to 2007, “two wonderful seasons“ which brought him 47 goals in 67 league appearances, and the Golden Shoe as the continent’s leading scorer in 2006. “But for all that, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure Bayern win tomorrow,“ he said. Jürgen Klinsmann described his hitman as “totally fired up.“
With just 24 hours to go until kick-off at the Allianz Arena, the Italian remains doubtful for the clash with the Serie A giants. “I’m pretty confident he’ll make it, but it’s not 100 percent certain,” Klinsmann reported. Toni suffered bruised ribs in the first half of Bayern’s 1-0 win in Karlsruhe at the weekend.
“The medics are working flat out,” continued Klinsmann, who will leave the decision as to whether to risk the striker until as late as possible on matchday. The Italian was at least fit enough to play a part in Bayern’s final pre-match training session. “I’ll do whatever it takes to play,” promised Toni, “I just hope it works out.“
In search of first goal
Should Toni be passed fit, he will definitely start Tuesday’s game, Klinsmann confirmed. “Sometimes you only need 20 percent fitness to score,” the player remarked, naturally hoping to hit the target against his former club. In his debut Champions League season, Toni has shot at goal more times than any of his team-mates (6), but he has yet to open his account in Europe’s elite club competition.
“I’m sure Luca will play, and I even want him to score, although I’m hoping I get one more than him,” quipped Alberto Gilardino, Toni’s successor in Florence. The pair are friends and rivals in the Italian national team. “We have a great relationship,” revealed Toni, “but tomorrow we’re opponents.“
Toni maintains friendly contacts with a number of personalities at the Tuscan club: “I’m still in touch with them, from the President through to the kitman.“ However, the striker was unable to say how he would be received by the 5,000 expected to follow their team from Italy to Munich: “We’ll find out tomorrow.“
Many commentators in Florence regard the meeting with Bayern as “a rendezvous with a former lover,” according to sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport. That naturally means mixed feelings, as Fiorentina managing director Sandro Mencucci joked, recommending Toni drop his trademark hand-cupped-to-ear goal celebration. “If he scores against us and celebrates like that, I’ll cut his ear off.“ Toni had a crack ready in reply: “It wouldn’t be so bad. I play with my feet.“