Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 29th 2013 Contents Franck Ribery has settled down in the
Bavarian capital so well that he looks
right at home even in the ridiculous
lederhosen he and his Bayern Munich team-
mates don for the annual junket at the Okto-
If Ribery stays in Munich until his contract
expires in 2017, he would have spent a decade
and his best playing years with the club. He
will be 34 by then and Ribery has said he
would have nothing against letting his career
run out in Munich.
Ribery has helped Bayern win every major
trophy and he is arguably the key player in
Pep Guardiola s squad. The best player in the
best team in the world.
But is Ribery good enough to take this year s
Ballon d Or? Better than Lionel Messi? Better
than Cristiano Ronaldo? Or for that matter,
Based on recent success, Ribery wins the
argument. UEFA already made him the Euro-
pean player of the year in August.
Messi, winner of the last four Ballon d Or
awards, was injured late in last season s and
could not prevent Barcelona being ripped apart
by Bayern in the semifinals of the Champions
League. Ronaldo could not lead Real Madrid
to the biggest title either.
Instead, Bayern completed a sweep never
before accomplished by a German team. It
captured the Champions League, the Bun-
desliga and the German Cup. In addition,
Ribery set a Bundesliga record of playing in
39 straight games without defeat on Satur-
Ribery, although a winger, is not a natural
scorer with the consistency of Messi or Ronal-
do---he had 11 goals for Bayern last season and
23 assists, while also adding five goals for
But his overall presence on the field has
become a lot more visible since Ribery started
working more for the team. He works hard
and runs back to help out his defenders, some-
thing that was not a given a few season ago.
Ribery likes the ball, dribbles and shoots
well and his sudden accelerations and changes
of pace are his trademark moves. He is not
as spectacular as Messi, Ronaldo or Ibrahi-
His reluctance to stick with tactical discipline
led to a falling out with previous coach Louis
van Gaal and Ribery did not become the player
he is now until Jupp Heynckes replaced the
Ribery has matured since his early days in
Bayern, when his childish pranks---tying
together the shoelaces of his teammates,
smearing toothpaste on door handles and
adding vinegar to tea---got more newspaper
space than his exploits on the field.
There have been other issues as well.
The club stood by Ribery when he was
involved in a 2010 sex scandal surrounding
an underage prostitute, while his popularity
in France also took a huge blow that year for
his role in Les Bleus implosion at the World
Cup in South Africa.
But since then, Ribery has kept his volatile
character and aggression mostly in check,
although it still surfaces occasionally in some
ill-tempered harsh tackling. He missed the
2011 Champions League final after earning a
needless red card in the previous round and
Bayern lost 2-0 to Inter.
He then punched teammate Arjen Robben
in a locker-room dispute at halftime of Bayern s
Champions League win over Real Madrid in
2012. The bust-up delayed Robben s decision
to extend his contract with Bayern.
Former France coach Gerard Houllier said
he was involved in an altercation with Ribery
after France s 6-0 victory over Australia earlier
France Football reported that Ribery
approached Houllier in the dressing room and
had to be restrained by staff of the France
Houllier told a french newspaper that an
incident took place but declined to give details.
In an earlier interview with France Football,
Houllier said: "Ribery is without doubt a tech-
nical leader---a very, very good player who s
capable of making the difference and working
for the rest of the team. But he s not a world-
class player who s going to make the team
win like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo."
Bayern officials would not agree. Club chair-
man Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said Ribery was
"perhaps the best player in the world at the
"Franck plays with an unbelievable joy. The
things he does with the ball is at likes like
(Italian acrobat and performer Enrico) Rastelli,"
Bayern president Uli Hoeness said after Ribery
scored twice in a 5-0 Champions League win
over Viktoria Plzen.
Perhaps the Ballon d Or decision should
have been delayed.
Unless Ribery takes France to the World
Cup, he shouldn t get it. Messi will be there
and so will either Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic.
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FRANKFURT---Hoffenheim lost its bid
for a replay of a Bundesliga match won
by Bayer Leverkusen with a goal that
shouldn t have been allowed.
Leverkusen s Stefan Kiessling was
awarded the goal by referee Felix Brych
in the October 18 game when his
header hit the side-netting and rolled
into the goal through a hole.
A German football federation tribu-
nal ruled yesterday that Brych didn t
breach any rules in making his decision
and let Leverkusen s 2-1 win stand.
"The decision may be unsatisfactory
from a sporting point of view, but it
corresponds to the rules and the laws,"
judge Hans E Lorenz said.
Hoffenheim has a week to decide
whether it will appeal to a higher tri-
bunal. The club is "of course disap-
pointed" by the ruling and will review
the decision "calmly" before making a
decision, said Alexander Rosen, its di-
rector of professional football.
Brych told yesterday s hearing that
he thought the ball was going wide,
lost sight of the ball, and "then I saw
the ball was in the goal."
Kiessling said that he initially
thought Hoffenheim goalkeeper Koen
Casteels had scored an own goal. (AP)
Hoffenheim denied replay of phantom goal match
Should Ribery get Ballon d'Or?
Bayern's Franck Ribery scores the opening goal from the penalty spot during the Champions League group D football match between FC Bayern
Munich and Viktoria Plzen in Munich, Germany, Wednesday. Ribery scored two goals to guide Bayern to a 5-0 victory. AP PHOTO
Ribery has matured since his early days in Bayern, when his
childish pranks---tying together the shoelaces of his teammates,
smearing toothpaste on door handles and adding vinegar to
tea---got more newspaper space than his exploits on the field.
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