Champions League preview: Toni's transfer demand piles more pressure on Van Gaal

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The Independent Online

With Bayern Munich facing elimination from the Champions League tonight, the last thing beleaguered coach Louis van Gaal needed yesterday was striker Luca Toni demanding to leave after deciding his relationship with the Dutchman was "dead".

Toni, who helped Italy win the World Cup in 2006, has been sidelined by Van Gaal since he took over from Jürgen Klinsmann in the summer. "I've had problems with him [Van Gaal] for the last four months," he said. "Everything has a limit. Our relationship is almost dead."

"I would like to go back to Italy to score those goals that will help me return to the national team," Toni added. "I remain the top scorer of all the Italian strikers active in the national team."

Toni's transfer request adds to the pressure on Van Gaal, with Bayern languishing seventh in the Bundesliga and knowing that victory over Maccabi Haifa at the Allianz Arena tonight will not be enough to keep their Champions League hopes alive if Juventus win at Bordeaux, who have already qualified.

In Group C, Real Madrid have been lifted by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo from an ankle injury as they seek to take a major step towards qualifying for the knockout stages by beating FC Zurich at the Bernabeu. Ronaldo has been out for nearly two months but returned to training on Friday. The Real coach Manuel Pellegrini yesterday said: "Cristiano Ronaldo has done well in the last few training sessions, he is in the squad and we will see tomorrow if he plays."

The group's other game sees Milan entertain Marseilles at San Siro – a repeat of the 1993 final which the French side won 1-0 – with the Rossoneri knowing victory will clinch a place in the last 16.

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