Thu, May 01, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Ribery insists Bayern have nothing to fear

READY FOR ACTION Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has given his team a clean bill of health ahead of their match in St Petersburg today

AFP , ST PETERSBURG

Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery takes a penalty during their UEFA cup semi-final first leg soccer match against Zenit St Petersburg at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, on April 24.

PHOTO: EPA

French midfielder Franck Ribery insists Bayern Munich have nothing to fear when they tackle Zenit St Petersburg in tonight’s UEFA Cup semif-final, second leg in Russia.

The 25-year-old scored a stunning goal — he curled his shot home from 35m — in Sunday’s 4-1 Bundesliga win over VfB Stuttgart.

But Bayern must score in St Petersburg to stay in the competition having drawn last week’s first leg 1-1 in Munich.

The Bundesliga leaders have their sights set on a domestic and European clean sweep.

They would be the first German side to do so if they add the Bundesliga and UEFA Cup to the German League Cup and German Cup titles they have already won.

However their hopes of appearing in the Manchester final on May 14 took a dent when Lucio’s own goal gave the Russian side a 1-1 first-leg draw in Bavaria last Thursday.

But with Ribery and Italian World Cup striker Luca Toni in impressive form, Bayern travel to Russia in determined mood.

“We’ll go there with confidence,” Ribery said. “There’s still everything to play for and we aren’t afraid of any team, even on their ground.”

Bayern can draw inspiration from fellow German side Bayer Leverkusen, who triumphed 1-0 at the Petrovsky Stadium in the quarter-final, despite a 4-1 defeat from the first leg.

Dutch coach Dick Advocaat’s Zenit side — the current Russian league leaders and reigning champions — have proved diificult to beat at home and are hoping to become only the second side from Russia to win the UEFA Cup.

While Bayern were in action on Sunday, Zenit’s game against FC Terek Grozny was postponed until July 1 to give Advocaat’s side extra time to prepare.

And Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has given his team a clean bill of health.

Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and defender Philipp Lahm have shaken off knocks which forced them out of the win over Stuttgart, while Toni is back after missing the first leg against Zenit through suspension.

Long-term injured midfielder Hamit Altintop is the only name missing, while both Dutchman Mark van Bommel and Miroslav Klose will play with broken noses.

“It is always important when everybody is on board and we are at our strongest,” said van Bommel, who — like Lahm and Lukas Podolski — is one yellow card away from a ban which would keep him out of the final.

“We are all completely convinced we can go through, not just now but before the season even started,” he said.

“This is the first [European] semi-final since a few years and so it is very important, we want to win four titles this year,” the Dutchman said.

“This is a chance you get maybe one or two times in your career and we will all do what we can,” he said.

Having broken his nose in three places during the first leg, Klose says Bayern must go hard in Russia.

“The only way is to be fully committed and go full throttle,” Klose said.

“We go there to win and are convinced that we will win it,” he said. “The atmosphere in the team is good and everybody believes we can do it.”

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