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Robben’s review

‘With Xabi, one quick glance is enough’

Despite an energy-sapping World Cup, Arjen Robben hit the ground running when he returned to FC Bayern for the first half of the 2014/15 campaign: the Dutchman is FCB’s top scorer in the league with ten goals from 17 games. In the second part of our exclusive interview Robben reviews the season so far, singling out one of the club’s summer signings for special praise, and also looks ahead to 2015. 

Interview with Arjen Robben, part 2 Arjen, many people thought Bayern would struggle for form after having so many players involved at the World Cup. How would you assess the Bundesliga campaign so far?
Arjen Robben: The team deserves a big pat on the back because it’s been a really good first half of the season. We’re still unbeaten, even though we had a very short summer break and a lot of injuries since then.

How important is Bastian Schweinsteiger’s comeback?
Basti is one of our captains and that tells you everything you need to know. He’s come through a very tricky period and I hope he can really go for it again as of January. We need him!

You won your Champions League group after only four games…
That was exceptional. Jérôme Boateng’s late winner to make it 1-0 against Manchester City in our first match was the most important moment for me. Winning the game meant we settled into our rhythm straight away. And obviously I’ll never forget winning 7-1 in Rome. That was a perfect evening!

Xabi Alonso settled in from the very first day and emerged as a crucial factor in the successful first half of the season. What’s it like playing with him?
It’s really good to have a player of his calibre on the team. He’s not only a great guy, he’s a terrific footballer too. Most of the time, one quick glance is enough, and he plays the pass you want. I really enjoy being out on the field with him.

You face Shakhtar Donetsk in the last sixteen of the Champions League. A manageable task on paper, surely?
No, it’s dangerous! We could have got Juventus, Arsenal or PSG, but Shakhtar are more dangerous because we know so little about them. I know we won’t beat them just by turning up. We have two finals. If we want to go through, we’ll have to give it everything.

You travel to Qatar for the mid-season training camp in early January. Why is it such a good place to prepare for the second half of the season?
Because the conditions are superb. The hotel is right next to the practice ground and the turf is superb. It couldn’t be better. We have to focus and work hard while we’re there, because the big games are still to come.

The Ballon d’Or Gala takes place next week. Can Manuel Neuer win the vote for the world’s best player?
I don’t know, but I can say for certain that Manu would be a totally deserved winner. He’s had a fantastic year, with such amazing body language and power. If you come up against him as a striker and he makes himself big, you’re knocked out of your stride. I have my fingers crossed for him.