Previews: Toni back for Bayern title tilt

BERLIN - Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni has timed his return from injury perfectly with the champions travelling to Wolfsburg on Saturday in a match that could make or break their title hopes.

Bayern and Wolfsburg are joint second on 48 points, a point behind leaders Hertha Berlin with nine matches left and a defeat for either would see them drift off at least three points.

Wolfsburg, with seven consecutive wins, have the league's most feared home record, dropping only two out of a possible 36 points from 12 matches.

Toni's return from a four-week absence with a heel injury is welcome news for Bayern who had been short of fit strikers after Miroslav Klose injured his ankle and was ruled out for more than a month, leaving volatile Lukas Podolski as the only option.

"Luca is hungry. He wants to get stuck in there," said Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann on Wednesday after the Italian scored a hat-trick in training.

"He is fully fit and he has the confidence that the heel is 100 percent well. That is important mentally," he told club website.

Toni will partner Podolski in attack against a hard-working Wolfsburg defence that have only let in 10 goals at home and contributed greatly to their recent spectacular run.


But Toni will have Franck Ribery, hitting top form after striking twice for France in consecutive qualifiers over the last five days, to provide the passes. The inspirational Bayern pair have not played together since February.

They should, however, not underestimate Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath, who won consecutive league and cup doubles as Bayern coach before being sacked in mid-season in January 2007.

"Felix is an old cat, a real competitor," said Bayern manager Uli Hoeness. "He will stay in the shadows and play down his hopes.

"If we win then that would almost be the title, even a draw leaves all our options open."

League leaders Hertha will seek an 11th consecutive home win in a sold-out Olympic stadium when they host Borussia Dortmund, who have drawn more than half of their league games.

Hertha are chasing their first German championship since 1931 and the return of Patrick Ebert, sent to play briefly with the B team over a disciplinary issue, will boost their midfield.

But injured captain Arne Friedrich is still doubtful for Hertha's defence.