Created on 09-12-2013 at 09:30 AM
Bayern’s response to losing Arjen Robben for the rest of the calendar year was close to ideal, as FCB hit the goal trail in anger in a 7-0 gala away to Bremen at the weekend. The loss of Robben to an injury sustained in the midweek cup meeting with Augsburg hurts: the Dutchman has been a lynchpin of the Munich attack recently with five goals and an assist in the previous four games. “Arjen was in the form of his life,” lamented Matthias Sammer. The call went out for other players to step up to the plate - and they did just that.
Franck Ribéry led the way. Just two and a half weeks after cracking a rib on international duty for France, the UEFA Best Player in Europe returned to the starting line-up in Bremen and hit the ground running. Franck netted his first brace of the season and set up another two of his team’s goals. He was thrilled afterwards: “I’m back. I’m delighted about a performance like that. The pain has gone.“
The winger’s display in Bremen and his total of five goals and six assists in his last eight Bundesliga appearances underline why he is a hot candidate for the World Player of the Year award. “He deserves the accolade,” commented Pep Guardiola. Uli Hoeneß even went a step further: “There’s not a single player in the world who deserves it more than Franck.“
The Ballon d’Or shortlist also includes Thomas Müller, contributor of a goal and two assists in Bremen. The leading goalscorer at the 2010 World Cup is currently Bayern’s best striker in all competitions with 23 scorer points (goals plus assists) in 25 appearances. He has more goals (15) and assists (8) than any of his Munich team-mates, with six goals and three assists in the last seven Bundesliga matches.
Hoeneß in relaxed mood
Taking only league games into account, Mario Mandzukic is the club’s top goalscorer. The Croat put away his ninth Bundesliga goal of the campaign in Bremen, equalling the personal best for half a league season he set last term. And Mario Götze is smoothly running into form, with a goal and an assist against outclassed Werder. In ten Bundesliga appearances so far, the summer signing has amassed seven scorer points (three goals, four assists).
And last but by no means least, there’s Daniel van Buyten. The towering defender yet again underlined the threat he poses from set plays with the header to double Bayern’s lead in the first half.
It all means there are plenty of goals in this Bayern team even in the absence of Robben. Saturday’s game in Bremen was the sixth in a row with two goals or more for FCB, and the 52nd straight league match in which the treble winners have found the net at least once. Uli Hoeneß summed up the situation in contented and relaxed terms: “We have 20 equally good players. I’m no longer getting upset when we have an injury, because I know we have just as good an option on the bench.”