Munich - 2013 was a near-perfect year for FC Bayern München’s wing wizard Franck Ribery and the French international is keen to maintain his momentum heading into the second half of the Bundesliga campaign.
Ten days after finishing behind both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the FIFA Ballon d’Or vote, Ribery spoke exclusively to bundesliga.com about the record titleholders' opening game of the Rückrunde against Borussia Mönchengladbach, the Bundesliga title race and his targets for 2014.
bundesliga.com: Franck Ribery, have you got over finishing third in the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or vote?
Franck Ribery: Yes, of course. It hurt a lot to begin with considering I had won everything with FC Bayern and because I had already received several individual awards. However, the subject has been put to bed in my eyes. I’m only focusing on the future now.
bundesliga.com: What targets have you set yourself for the New Year?
Ribery: To have just as successful a year as 2013 - despite the fact that it will definitely be harder. I believe it’s possible though. We have an incredible amount of untapped potential at FC Bayern. We're capable of retaining our status as German champions, but also of winning the DFB Cup and becoming the first ever team to defend the UEFA Champions League title. 2013 was the best year of my entire career. I want to build on that in 2014. I can promise you one thing: I’m still hungry for more. We want to continue winning everything and create even more history.
bundesliga.com: The start of the second half of the season sees FC Bayern taking on Borussia Mönchengladbach. Are you expecting a tough test?
Ribery: Definitely. It’s never easy playing at the Borussia Park, but I love the backdrop there with their fantastic stadium and fans. We enjoyed a spectacular encounter on the final Matchday of last season [a 4-3 win for FC Bayern]. It was absolutely insane - especially as it was our last Bundesliga game with Jupp Heynckes as head coach. There were lots of emotions involved and I managed to score an incredible goal. We’ve got to take this seriously, though, and put in a disciplined performance if we want to take anything from the game. We’re well aware that Gladbach had a spectacular first half of the season, but we’re fully prepared. We’ve got two difficult away games ahead of us, including next Wednesday’s clash with VfB Stuttgart. We’re determined to win both games and enjoy a positive start to the New Year and to send out a message.
bundesliga.com: FC Bayern are unbeaten in 41 Bundesliga encounters and you personally haven’t lost any of your last 47 league games [a 1-0 defeat in Dortmund on 11 April, 2012]. How long can you keep the streak going?
Ribery: As long as possible (laughs). My aim is to win the Bundesliga without suffering a single defeat. We want to win every game and put a convincing performance every time we play.
bundesliga.com: In just under four weeks' time you’re set to take on Arsenal FC in the first leg of your UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie for the second year in a row. Are you looking forward to it?
Ribery: It’s always a great honour to compete in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League so I’m especially looking forward to it. However, I’m aware that it will be very difficult to get a result there because their team is stronger than last year. Mesut Özil has added a great deal of quality at Arsenal with his exemplary passing and incredible vision. In the first leg last year we were at the top of our game and ended up winning 3-1 in London. We’re intent on putting ourselves in a good position for the second leg again this time around, but we shouldn’t forget that we just scraped through the second leg last season. So we have been warned.
Interview by Alexis Menuge
Check out Ribery's sensational volley against Gladbach during former FC Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes' final game in charge, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: