Still competing on three fronts, talk of finding form and fitness when it matters most has been a constant of FC Bayern München's campaign and, in Franck Ribery, one of their stars appears to be executing the gameplan to perfection.
'A special goal'
Speaking before the 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, the 32-year-old conceded that "a lot of people probably doubted I would get back to my level of play", following an 11-month spell on the sidelines. A match-winning performance in the Allianz Arena, which included a goal-of-the-season candidate, are the first pieces of proof that Ribery hasn't lost his touch.
One moment of magic from the Frenchman was all it took for the record titleholders to record their 23rd league win of the season. Frankfurt goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky did well to save Mario Götze's initial effort on 20 minutes, but was helpless to prevent Ribery's sensationally improvised overhead kick from looping beyond his reach from the rebound. "All you can do there is applaud," admitted the Eagles' No1, while head coach Pep Guardiola hailed the effort as an "unbelievable goal".
"It was a special goal," mused Ribery himself. "You don't see something like that in every game. I've never scored a goal like I did today." His 70th Bundesliga goal for Bayern and first on home soil since March of last year, will live long in the memory, while the outpouring of emotion in his celebration was "a necessary release" following one of the most frustrating periods of his career.