Ribery back to rescue struggling Bayern?

October 2, 2008

BERLIN, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich will have Franck Ribery back for a first Bundesliga start of the season against Bochum on Saturday but unless Luca Toni can suddenly sharpen up even the return of the Frenchman may not be enough.

Bayern have slipped down to ninth place after losing their last two league games and with an international break coming up Juergen Klinsmann needs a convincing home win to avert all those gleeful headlines featuring the word "crisis".

Klinsmann is convinced that Tuesday's 1-1 draw at home to Olympique Lyon in the Champions League showed evidence of an uptick in form from his team and the coach is probably right.

Ribery, in the starting line-up for the first time since rupturing ankle ligaments at Euro 2008, showed thrilling touches of his best form and the way the team fought back from conceding a ridiculous own goal clearly pleased the coach.

The fact remains, however, that without Toni's goals this Bayern team tends to struggle.

The Italian, who netted 24 times in the league last season, has three to his name this term -- one in the 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin and two in the 3-0 victory over Cologne.

When Toni has not scored, Bayern have not managed a Bundesliga win and in the last two matches, defeats at home to Werder Bremen and away to Hanover, he has been ineffective.

He looked jaded again against Lyon, getting into position to score plenty of times only for his usual instinct to desert him.

"Sadly, I was always just a couple of centimetres out," a frustrated Toni said on the Bayern website (www.fcbayern.de) after the Lyon game. "I hope I'm back scoring again on Saturday."

Victory on Saturday would at least ensure Bayern do not fall any further than five points behind leaders Hamburg SV, who are away to Energie Cottbus on Sunday.

Second-placed Bayer Leverkusen have an excellent chance to take over at the top, at least for 24 hours, when they host struggling Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Third-placed Werder Bremen have a trickier game away to VfB Stuttgart in another of Saturday's matches.