Bayern banking on revival upon Ribery return

BERLIN - Playmaker Franck Ribery will make his season debut on Saturday against Werder Bremen hoping to steer Bayern Munich to their first Bundesliga victory and put the Real Madrid transfer saga firmly behind him.

Ribery had publicly expressed his desire to join the Spanish club during the close season but Bayern, who have him under contract until 2011, refused to budge.

A protracted tug-of-war ensued between the three parties before Ribery picked up a knee injury that ruled him out for about a month and forced him to miss last weekend's Bundesliga opener, a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Hoffenheim.

"I am certain that Franck will play on Saturday. The match with France will also have given him extra motivation," Bayern manager Uli Hoeness said on the club's website.

Ribery, who returned to full team training last week, played 25 minutes in France's 1-0 win over the Faroe Islands after Bayern grudgingly allowed him to travel with the national team.

Striker Miroslav Klose will also return to action after missing the opener due to injury.

Klose was on target in Germany's World Cup qualifier, a 2-0 win against hosts Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

Ukrainian midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is also expected to start, replacing injured captain Mark van Bommel.

Ribery's high-profile return is not the only highlight of the weekend as striker Lukas Podolski is also expected to make his Bundesliga debut for Cologne after returning following three hapless seasons with Bayern.

Celebrated in the German city as 'Prince Poldi', the 24-year-old will have his work cut out when Cologne take on champions and league leaders VfL Wolfsburg who seem to have carried their sparkling form that landed them to their first title over to this season.