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Ballack back for Bayern blockbuster

Published: Tuesday 18 October 2005, 1.02CET
Michael Ballack is preparing to roar back into life in the UEFA Champions League in tonight's game against Italian champions Juventus.
by Andreas Alf
from Munich

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Published: Tuesday 18 October 2005, 1.02CET

Ballack back for Bayern blockbuster

Michael Ballack is preparing to roar back into life in the UEFA Champions League in tonight's game against Italian champions Juventus.
After making his return to Bundesliga action in Saturday's 1-1 draw against FC Schalke 04, Michael Ballack is preparing to roar back into life in the UEFA Champions League in tonight's game against Italian champions Juventus.

Niggling injuries
Having been sidelined with a number of niggling injuries and then a bout of flu, the FC Bayern München playmaker is eager to try his luck against the side who have won more Italian titles than any other. "It's about time we played them again," said Ballack. "They are among Europe's best and this match is a real highlight."

Measuring stick
Like Juventus, Bayern are the most successful club in their domestic league, and for Ballack, playing the Turin giants will be a good measure of his side's skills. "This meeting will tell us where we stand in European football right now," added Ballack. "It will show us if we have made a step forward since our two 1-0 defeats against them last season."

Vieira injured
Ballack was hoping to come up against another great goalscoring midfielder tonight in the form of former Arsenal FC hero Patrick Vieira, but because of a groin injury, the French international has not travelled to Germany. "This could be an advantage for us, but they still have Emerson," concluded Ballack.

Stage set
The stage is certainly set for Ballack to play a starring role against a side who, like Bayern, have yet to drop a point in this season's UEFA Champions League. Now coach Felix Magath is hoping that he will have what it takes to seize that opportunity.

'The old Michael Ballack'
Ballack had not been in his best form in the early stages of the season and was not able to play in Bayern's opening UEFA Champions League win against SK Rapid Wien and played against Club Brugge KV despite not being fully fit. "I hope that we will see the old Michael Ballack on Tuesday night," said Magath.

Bold prediction
With all of the worst days seemingly behind him, Bayern's No13 is hoping that tonight's match at the Fußball Arena München can mark the real start of a successful European season. And Ballack has been bold enough to predict the result.

Dream scenario
"I will set up Roy Makaay and he will score the decisive goal in a 1-0 win," said Ballack with a smile. With Makaay not having scored in the last 52 days - a lengthy break by the Dutchman's standards - Bayern would have more than one reason to celebrate if Ballack's prediction comes true.

Last updated: 18/10/05 23.02CET

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