With the exception of the German Super Cup final they lost 4-2 to Borussia Dortmund, FC Bayern Munich snaffled every title within their grasp in 2013. They swept to success in the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League, and their superb trophy haul may not be over yet as they compete for the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup. It has been a spellbinding year for the Bavarian outfit, and they owe many of their highs to the form and ability of French winger Franck Ribery.
Kaiser Franck has enjoyed a spectacular 12 months, shining for his all-conquering side as their most consistent performer.
"Franck Ribery's season was incredible – he deserves the Ballon d'Or," commented Bayern coach Josep Guardiola, appointed in the summer. "The best footballer in Europe has a legitimate claim to that title," added team captain Philipp Lahm, citing the UEFA Best Player in Europe award Ribery collected in August. As for club legend Franz Beckenbauer, he too is a big fan of the gifted 30-year-old: "Ribery is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world and the best in 2013. Without him, Bayern would probably have won one title, but not three."
Ribery has not only been performing wonders for Bayern, either. With the Boulogne native pulling the strings, France overcame a period of doubt to ultimately clinch a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. FIFA.com now looks back at three key dates in Ribery's stellar year.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayern Munich: saving the best till last
18 May 2013
Bayern had already wrapped up the 2012/13 Bundesliga title when they faced Monchengladbach on the final day of the season. The stakes may have been low, but players were anxious to deliver a fitting display in their final league outing under Jupp Heynckes – and Ribery made it his own personal mission to give their departing coach a stirring send-off
The game started badly for Der Rekordmeister, with Monchengladbach rattling in three goals in the opening ten minutes, but that was merely the cue for Ribery to weave his magic. Loath to countenance defeat, the Frenchman weighed in with a pair of goals – including a magnificent left-footed volley high into the net from 25 metres – as well as two assists, dragging his side to a 4-3 victory. It was Ribery's most accomplished performance of a season in which he struck ten goals, served up 14 decisive passes and generally brought a touch of the spectacular to everything he did.
It was also a result that allowed Bayern to approach the Champions League final the following weekend in complete serenity…
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund: the icing on the cake
26 May 2013
Ribery and Co travelled to Wembley hoping to claim Europe's premier club prize, but it was another Bundesliga side who awaited them there in the shape of Dortmund. Put under pressure on his left flank by Polish duo Jakub Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszcek, Ribery took time to find his feet. Indeed, as in the club's memorable semi-final against Barcelona, the No7 initially caught the eye for his remarkable defensive work, but he could not be kept quiet for long and helped swing the match with a telling pair of touches.
Firstly, with 61 minutes gone, Ribery slipped an excellent pass through to Arjen Robben down the left, and the Dutch international was free to feed the unmarked Mario Mandzukic in front of goal. That put Heynckes' men 1-0 up, but, with the scoreline level again two minutes from the end, Ribery brought his talent to bear once more. This time, he spotted Robben making a run and clipped a back heel into the area, allowing his team-mate to race onto the ball and land the decisive blow of the game. Having experienced heartbreak in the showpiece losses to Inter Milan in 2010 and Chelsea in 2012, Ribery was at last able to lift the most prestigious trophy in European club football.
France v Belarus: Ribery to the rescue
10 September 2013
While Bayern have tended to steamroll most of their opponents this year, France were forced to dig deep in 2014 World Cup qualifying. The pressure was particularly intense as they prepared to take on Belarus, Les Bleus having drawn 0-0 in Georgia four days previously to stretch their run of games without a win to five. With their backs to the wall, France could settle for nothing less than all three points to secure a spot in the play-offs, and that meant ending a spell of more than 500 minutes without scoring. To make matters worse, Ribery was an injury doubt beforehand due to a gluteal muscle problem picked up in the previous game, but the Bayern star was finally passed fit and set about answering his country's call.
Cheered by the Belarus fans when the team line-ups were read out, the former Marseille schemer proved a constant thorn in the hosts' side due to his dribbles, speed and invention. Moreover, he won and converted the 47th-minute penalty that ended France's long goal drought, stopping the rot at 526 minutes. He then turned in a cross from Mathieu Valbuena to draw Les Bleus level for a second time on 64 minutes, and his first double on the international stage helped France secure a 4-2 victory that put them back on the road to Brazil once and for all.