Robbery - Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery - stealing the show for 10 years at Bayern Munich
Saturday 29 August 2009 will go down in history as the beginning of an eminent chapter in the history of Bayern Munich, marking the first day Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery took to the field together in their colours.
On that day, Bayern – who were still licking their wounds after a 2-1 defeat at Thomas Tuchel's Mainz, having drawn their first two games of the season to plummet to 14th – picked up their first win of the campaign. It was a 3-0 victory over Wolfsburg which marked the beginning of a sublime new era.
Leading 1-0 thanks to a Mario Gomez goal, Bayern coach Louis van Gaal first sent on his compatriot Robben to make his Bundesliga debut following his switch from Real Madrid at the start of the second half. The magic started just 15 minutes later, though, when Ribery was also sent into the fray, setting Robben up for a dream debut goal five minutes later. The same combination put the finishing touches to the win, and Robbery was born.
Watch: Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben - the best double act of all time
The early days
Robben made his first Bayern start in the 5-1 win at Borussia Dortmund the following week, providing his first assist for Bastian Schweinsteiger to make it 2-1 to Bayern after Mats Hummels had headed the Westphalians in front. Ribery came on to net his first goal of the season and the rest, as they say, is history. Robben provided another assist in Bayern's 2-1 win over Nuremberg a week later before the injury troubles which have hampered his time in Munich began.
Indeed, while Robbery has been every bit a steal for Bayern, Ribery and Robben have only actually been on the field for a third of the games they could have potentially played together in. With 15 Bundesliga titles, nine DFB Cups and a Champions League triumph between them, it makes you wonder what else Bayern might have conquered had Robbery featured in all the 299 Bundesliga games they could have played in together.
Win, win, win with Robbery
Nevertheless, when they have played together, Bayern have looted their opponents with 85 wins from their 109 Bundesliga outings – a whopping 78 per cent. Ribery's personal win record is 182 wins/74%, while Robben's reads 145 wins/77%, including an unbeaten record in 25 appearances in the 2017/18 season.
2011/12 was a particularly productive season for the pair with both finding the back of the net 12 times, while Robben set up five and Ribery provided a mammoth 18 assists. That is hardly surprising, however, considering that Ribery is the Bundesliga's all-time leading assist provider (since such records began in 1992), with 121 to his name. Robben is not too far behind, having set up 105 goals.
What they say…
Robberys don't always go according to plan, though, like in April 2012, when there were fisticuffs in the dressing room at half-time of their Champions League semi-final clash with Real Madrid. "We had a free-kick just before the break and it was ideal for a right-footer," Ribery explained several years later.
"Jupp Heynckes had divided us and if it was for a right-footer, then it was either I or Toni Kroos, with Arjen the only left-footer. But Arjen got involved and said Toni should take it. I was really angry. I was in a rage, he was in a rage, and then it just happened.
"I'm really happy with our relationship now, though. It's a shame that we weren't such good friends to start with, and there were a few disagreements, but we're great mates now and have a lot of fun together. He knows how important we both are for Bayern. I've always said I don't care less which of us gets more goals or assists – I've never been envious of Arjen's goals. It's all about the group; about Bayern Munich, and even Arjen's happy with each goal I score."
A compliment which Robben returned after Ribery came third in the vote for the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. "He's done great and deserves the recognition," Robben said. "If we want to win titles, we need Ribery."
That is precisely what Bayern bosses thought when they saw the pair's contracts expiring this summer. New deals have been offered to both and that means Ribery could also become Bayern's record title-winner by lifting a ninth Bundesliga crown in 2018/19, while Robben would join Oliver Kahn, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mehmet Scholl on eight with yet another title.
Either way, it is going to be one last curtain call for the greatest Robbery of all time.
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