Bundesliga: Bayern injury woe for Hanover clash

August 23, 2007

BERLIN, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich spent over 70 million euros ($94.36 million) to build their squad back up over the close season but injuries mean even their resources will be tested when they host Hanover 96 on Saturday.

Bayern played so well in beating Hansa Rostock 3-0 and Werder Bremen 4-0 in the opening two games that their only two threats would appear to be complacency or an injury crisis.

The personnel situation cannot yet be called a crisis but coach Ottmar Hitzfeld will be concerned that he has only one striker for Saturday's game.

Luca Toni, the new Italian signing who has scored twice already, will have to lead the line alone after Miroslav Klose joined Jan Schlaudraff and Lukas Podolski on the casualty list.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marcell Jansen are also big doubts after they were forced to miss Germany's friendly against England at Wembley on Wednesday.

Centre-back Lucio has a calf injury but could be fit for the visit of Hanover, who got their first win of the season when they came from a goal down to beat Karlsruhe last Friday.

Despite the concerns, Bayern will be overwhelming favourites to make it three wins out of three on Saturday, and Hitzfeld is already having to field suggestions that his side can go through the entire season without giving up top spot.

'There's a long way to go yet this season and a lot can still happen,' Hitzfeld told reporters. 'You can be very unlucky with injuries. There are still plenty of question marks.'

Bayern could in fact lose top spot, at least for one night, when Hamburg SV play away at Bochum on Friday.

Hamburg are the only other side apart from Bayern with maximum points from two matches.

They should be boosted by Rafael van der Vaart's apparent acceptance that he will be staying put, with Valencia now having given up their pursuit of the Dutch playmaker.

Champions VfB Stuttgart have just a point from their opening two games. They go in search of a first win of the season at home to Duisburg on Saturday. The good news for coach Armin Veh is that Mexican international Ricardo Osorio is fit again.

Werder, who also have just a point to their name, are the other obvious under-performers after the first two rounds.

Coach Thomas Schaaf has had no such positive news in the build up to Saturday's game away to Cup winners Nuremberg, as he copes with a genuine injury crisis depriving him of players like Torsten Frings, Tim Borowski and Carlos Alberto.

Last season's runners-up Schalke 04, who have four points, are in action away to VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday.