Munich - In little over four weeks’ time, FC Bayern München midfielder Franck Ribery will discover whether his headline-grabbing sojourn at the pinnacle of the game has been enough to earn him the ultimate individual honour in world football: the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Consistency the key
While he might not find the net quite so regularly as fellow nominees Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF), two players who scored 79 La Liga goals between them last term, the France international’s case is no less compelling.
The freshly-crowned UEFA Best Player in Europe was the pillar of consistency as a star-studded Bayern side romped to an unprecedented Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup treble. Be it against relegation-threatened FC Augsburg late in the campaign or faced with domestic nemesis Borussia Dortmund at Wembley stadium in the final of European club football’s most prized competition, Ribery delivered one superlative performance after the other.
Under new head coach Pep Guardiola, the 30-year-old has continued in very much the same vein. With Bayern a goal behind to Chelsea FC in the UEFA Super Cup, it was a moment of Ribery magic that turned the tie on its head, while a masterful midfield display in the Champions League group stage against Manchester City FC’s expensively assembled XI reaffirmed his own status, and his club’s for that matter, as the most feared entity in European football.
In the Bundesliga, it is no different. Ribery scored ten and laid on 16 assists as Bayern wrapped up the Meisterschale in record-quick time in 2012/13. The wing whizz also had a say in one goal every 81 minutes, whilst playing a part in 171 scoring attempts across the entire campaign. In 12 league appearances so far this season, he has six goals and nine assists to his illustrious name, with a brace in both departments in Bayern’s 7-0 demolition of SV Werder Bremen on Matchday 15 providing further illustration of the Frenchman’s unparalleled influence on the collective.
Indeed, Ribery’s presence alone has had quite the prophetic significance for the record German champions, who have not lost any of their last 42 Bundesliga outings in which the Boulogne-sur-Mer native has featured (37 wins, five draws): a Bundesliga best-mark in its own right to supplement the ever-growing list of top-flight records Monsiuer Magnifique’s untouchable clique already have stowed away in the annals of time.
Ribery’s performances on the international stage, meanwhile, have proved no less decisive. Needing to overturn a two-goal swing against Ukraine in a recent FIFA World Cup 2014 play-off, the Bayern hero chipped in with two assists for team-mate Mamadou Sakho in an eventual 3-0 win, ensuring France’s place alongside the likes of Ronaldo’s Portugal and Messi’s Argentina at what may well be the Frenchman’s last appearance at the finals.
When Ribery eventually decides to hang up his boots - his current deal at Bayern runs until 2017 - he will undoubtedly go down as one of football’s true greats, whether he breaks the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly on the Ballon d’Or or not. He certainly deserves to.
Franck Ribery enjoyed the perfect comeback following a spell on the sidelines. Check out his man of the match performance against Werder Bremen, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: