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Robben: I’m fit and ready

Dutch star eyes place in starting line-up

The last time Arjen Robben started for Bayern was the home meeting with Juventus in late September. He was forced off on 45 minutes with a knee injury which required surgery, but ten weeks and three brief outings later, he is raring to go again. “I’m fit and ready for Tuesday,” he said on Sunday, two days ahead of the crunch return in Turin. “It’s a vital match, and I’d like to play from the start.”

In last Friday’s 2-1 win over Mönchengladbach, Robben re-entered the fray after four weeks on the sidelines. The Dutchman appeared for the last half-hour and made an immediate impact, leaving three defenders for dead down the right channel just 60 seconds after coming on, and winning the 75th minute free-kick in a dangerous position from which Holger Badstuber fired the winning goal.

World class winger

“He’s world class, which is great for us as a team,” commented Philipp Lahm, “when he comes on from the bench, things start happening on the field, because he looks for the one-on-one situations and opens up space. Once he’s 100 percent fit, he has to be in the starting eleven.”

However, Robben declined to speculate on how fit he really is right now. “I don’t know how long I’ll manage. Maybe only 60, 70 minutes, but maybe the full 90,” said the Netherlands international, who has spent recent weeks working out with fitness specialist Thomas Wilhelmi. Arjen is glad neither he nor the club attempted to rush his comeback. “I have a much better feeling now than if I’d tried it too early.”

Coach decides

Bayern must win Tuesday’s Champions League fixture in Turin in order to make the last sixteen, and Robben is determined to help his team for as long as he can. However, he is well aware that the decision lies exclusively with coach Louis van Gaal. “I’ve not spoken to him yet,” the player revealed, “but I think the boss knows I’d like to play.”