Created on 23-02-2009 at 00:00 AM
Luca Toni has not yet entirely shaken off his Achilles tendon problem, but the Italian is optimistic about his chances of aiding the Bayern cause in Wednesday evening's Champions League first knockout round first leg tie away to Sporting Clube in Lisbon. "I'm not 100 percent fit, but I'm doing everything I can. The game isn't for two days yet,“ the Italian hitman declared ahead of Monday training in Munich.
Just over 48 hours prior to the clash at the Estádio José Alvalade, a lingering inflammation of the tendon again prevented Toni from training with the squad. The striker worked out in the fitness area at the Säbener Strasse performance centre and went jogging with rehab coach Thomas Wilhelmi instead, before reporting to the medical unit for treatment. "I'll only play if I'm completely fit,“ the goal-getter said.
Rooting for Luca
"I hope he plays. We could really use him right now,“ commented chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. The former world-class striker feels the clash with the Portuguese giants comes at "exactly the right time" for Bayern after two league defeats on the bounce. "We need one good performance, and we'll be the Bayern Munich of old. Sporting is a perfect opportunity.“
Coach Jürgen Klinsmann is also hoping for a comeback from the second-highest scorer at the club: "We definitely missed his physical presence against Köln. Toni takes two defenders out of the game, which creates much more space for Miroslav Klose."
United we stand
Toni will definitely board Tuesday's flight to the Portuguese capital, along with the entire senior squad, a mark of team solidarity during a difficult phase at the club. "We need to show we stand united, overcoming a tough and disappointing phase together,“ coach Klinsmann stated after a sobering 2-1 home defeat to promoted Köln on Saturday.
Ahead of a punishing eight-day period incorporating tough away fixtures in Lisbon, Bremen and Leverkusen, the 44-year-old boss was in typically bullish mood. "Criticism just makes me more determined. I'm the kind of character who responds to adversity by throwing myself even more completely into my work.“