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Lahm and Robben

Bayern’s potent pairing down the right flank

The only player who has been able to stop Arjen Robben recently is a team-mate. In a practice match a couple of weeks ago, Philipp Lahm clattered into the Dutch winger, and earned himself a brief telling off for his trouble. Otherwise, Lahm and Robben nowadays form what must be the Bundesliga’s most harmonious pairing down the right side of the field.

“Robben is outstanding, the way he goes for the one-on-ones or even one-on-twos,” Lahm enthusiastically reported following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Mainz, to which FCB’s right-sided duo made a telling contribution. Robben laid on the opening goal and netted the third himself with a wicked curling free-kick. For his part, Lahm supplied the cut-back for Mario Gomez to score his side’s second.

Until the introduction of Franck Ribéry an hour into the match, almost all Bayern’s best attacking moves were initiated from the right. A number followed the same pattern. The right-footed Robben cut inside at speed, creating space for Lahm out near the touchline. “We’ve seen again just how hard they are to defend against,” Ivica Olic pointed out to “Robben is incredibly quick with the ball at his feet, and when he cuts inside, the opposing team have to go with him. That leaves the wing area completely open for Philipp to run into.”