Toni missing as Bayern step up treble pursuit

Erik Kirschbaum
Thursday 24 April 2008 00:00

Bayern Munich, with one trophy in the bag and a second almost sewn up, turn their attentions to a possible treble when they face Zenit St Petersburg in tonight's Uefa Cup semi-finals.

Having won the German Cup on Saturday and holding a 10-point Bundesliga lead with five matches remaining, the 1996 Uefa Cup winners are favourites to go through to the 14 May final in Manchester against Fiorentina or Rangers.

The Russian champions Zenit are struggling at the start of the new domestic season, lying 10th in the league with one win and seven points from six matches.

Bayern, who made winning the treble their aim after failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in a decade, will be without their suspended top scorer Luca Toni for the first leg in the Allianz Arena. The Italy striker, who has scored eight goals in four games, was booked in the thrilling 3-3 quarter-final draw at Getafe when he netted twice in the final five minutes of extra time to put Bayern through on away goals.

"We won the cup and now we want the league championship and the Uefa Cup for the treble," Toni told reporters after scoring twice in Saturday's 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund, his 34th and 35th goals of the season. "We've still got two titles to go. I hope by the end of May we'll have all three."

Zenit knocked out Bayer Leverkusen in the quarter-finals, winning 4-1 in Germany before losing the return leg 1-0.

The Ukraine midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk, who sat out Saturday's 1-1 draw against Saturn, is expected to return to coach Dick Advocaat's team.

"We can't let up now," said the Bayern captain, Oliver Kahn. "It's always difficult when you're in several competitions at the same time. It might not always look elegant but what's important is the result."

One Bayern player who will not look elegant is the midfielder Mark van Bommel. He broke his nose in the German Cup final after colliding with Dortmund's Mladen Petric and refused to comply with doctor's orders for an immediate operation. "We've reached the critical moment in the season with the Uefa Cup semi-final," said Van Bommel. "I've got to play. Having a crooked nose for a few weeks isn't so bad."

The German club Schalke 04 yesterday named the Dutchman Fred Rutten as their coach for next season.

Rutten, 45, who is with the Dutch club Twente Enschede, will succeed Mirko Slomka, who was sacked earlier this month after Schalke's Champions League quarter-final defeat by Barcelona and a 5-1 league thrashing by Werder Bremen. Schalke said Rutten had signed a two-year deal, starting on 1 July. Mike Bueskens and Youri Mulder will stay in charge of the team until the end of the season and then work under Rutten as his assistant coaches.

Schalke were runners-up in the Bundesliga last season and are lying in third place with five matches of this season remaining.

Rutten has spent almost all his professional career at Twente, having first signed with them as a player in 1979.

After rising through the club's coaching set-up, he spent four years as assistant coach under Guus Hiddink at PSV Eindhoven before returning to Twente in 2006.

Bayern Munich (probable, 4-4-2): Kahn; Lahm, Demichelis, Lucio, Lell; Ribéry, Van Bommel, Roberto, Schweinsteiger; Klose, Podolski.

Zenit St Petersburg (probable, 4-3-3): Malafeev; Anyukov, Shirokov, Krizanac, Sirl; Denisov, Tymoschuk, Zyrianov; Arshavin, Pogrebnyak, Fayzulin.

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