Luca Toni wants to win Bayern the Champions League

AFP - [email protected] • 17 Sep, 2008 Updated Wed 17 Sep 2008 08:50 CEST
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Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni says he wants to win the Champions League title at the first attempt as he prepares to make his competition debut, aged 31, in Romania on Wednesday.

Having joined Bayern from Fiorentina in the summer of 2007, the towering Italian scored 24 league goals in 34 Bundesliga games last season as Bayern reached the UEFA Cup semi-final. But Toni is looking forward to his first Champions League game when Bayern open their Group F campaign at Steau Bucharest’s Stadionul Ghencea stadium.

“My goal is for us to get as far as possible. My dream is to win it,” Toni told Bayern’s website. “Everyone wants to play in the Champions League, I’m really looking forward to the atmosphere. I’ll do everything in my power to score.”

The 1.91m forward scored two goals last weekend in the 3-0 win over Cologne as Bayern warmed-up for the trip to Romania by going second in the Bundesliga. “Luca’s sheer physical presence makes him incredibly hard to stop,” said Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann after the Italian’s double strike. He instinctively knows where the ball’s going to go."

Despite criticism from the Italian press since his move to Germany, Toni - who had a desperate Euro 2008 finals failing to find the mark a tall - has excelled in Munich.

“You could kick him out of bed at three in the morning and put him in the penalty box, he’d still score goals,” grinned Bayern manager Uli Hoeness. “I sense Munich feels more and more like home for Luca. He gets more support here. We force our opponents onto the back foot and there’s lots of goalmouth action. Italy just punt long balls forward, no-one comes up in support, and he’s left all alone in a wide open space.”

Bayern will open their Champions League campaign without star winger Franck Ribery after coach Klinsmann confirmed the game was ‘a little too soon’ for the France international.

“Franck is doing very, very well. He’s pushing himself to the limit in training, it’s almost impossible to slow him down,” Klinsmann continued. Ribery, sidelined since tearing ankle ligaments at Euro 2008, only resumed the squad training programme last week. “He’s not yet ready for the Champions League,” added Klinsmann, who said Ribery could be on the bench for Saturday’s Bundesliga game against Werder Bremen.

Meanwhile, Bayern are keen to keep Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in Munich beyond his contract, which expires in June 2009.

“We are anxious to keep him,” said Rummenigge. “Bastian’s development is very satisfying, he has been playing outstandingly well.”

Negotiations broke down in May with foreign clubs keen to sign the German star, but with Schweinsteiger having captained his country during the recent World Cup qualifiers, Bayern want to re-open negotiations.



AFP 2008/09/17 08:50

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