Created on 12-11-2013 at 13:10 PM
Franck Ribéry’s arrow straight, blistering direct free-kick goal against Augsburg at the weekend symbolised his current rich vein of form. The Frenchman’s personal stats spoke volumes too: no other player touched the ball more often (119 times), delivered more shots at goal (7) or was involved in more tackles (30).
Leading bookmaker bwin has Ribéry, who has been directly involved in 16 Bayern goals (nine goals, seven assists) in 17 appearances this season, as favourite to claim the Ballon d'Or, the prestigious award for the World Player of the Year. Ribéry’s odds are quoted at 2-1, followed by Lionel Messi (4-1), Cristiano Ronaldo (9-2), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (29-1) and Arjen Robben (34-1).
The UEFA best player in Europe is now hoping to carry on where he left off against Augsburg when he represents France in a crucial two-legged clash. A last chance to get to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is at stake when the French play Ukraine (15 November in Kyiv, 19 November in Paris) in the play-off double-header.
After arriving at the French national centre of excellence in Fontainebleau on Tuesday, Ribéry addressed a press conference, discussing his current form, and expressing his gratitude to Pep Guardiola.
Franck Ribéry on...
...the play-offs against Ukraine: “We face two very difficult games. We mustn’t underestimate Ukraine. They concede very few goals and they’re dangerous on the break. We mustn’t start thinking: ah well, we have a second game, so we can just go through the motions in the first match. Quite the opposite: we have to go to Ukraine looking to win. Our team is capable of that. We have to play without pressure and without fear.“
...his current form: “I’ve never felt as strong as this. I’m playing at a genuinely high level at the moment. I really think this is my year, so I’m also hoping it all turns out well with the national team.“
...the weight of expectation: “People have very high expectations of me. More and more cameras are focused on me, everyone’s looking to see what Franck Ribéry does. But I’ve always lived with this pressure and I’m used to it.“
...the Ballon d'Or: “A lot of people are asking me about the Ballon d'Or at the moment. Obviously, I dream of winning it, and decision time is coming closer. But I’m telling myself just to keep playing the way I can. I need to enjoy it and not put myself under pressure.“
...Pep Guardiola: “Guardiola has helped me a lot. Every day he says to me: 'Try things! Shoot at goal!' I’m the kind of player who always enjoys playing a killer final ball, even if I’m only two metres from goal in training. And what he says to me then is: 'You should have scored that one yourself.' Since he arrived my strike rate for Bayern and the national team isn’t at all bad. I hope it carries on like that.“