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'We're one group!'

In-form Ribéry praises team spirit

In the last few months Franck Ribéry has rarely been as relaxed as he is at present. As he himself now admits, his 11-month spell on the sidelines was a heavy burden. On Thursday he had fun with the journalists at the daily press conference, took his time and commented on the final spurt of the season in which the French winger aims to play a crucial role.

“I'm happy again,” the 32-year-old told the media, grinning broadly. “Many people thought I wouldn't return. But I've had so many fights in my life.” His motto made him weather the long rehab: “Cheer up and come back.” Since his return against Darmstadt in February the Frenchman has “made a number of appearances. It was important for my rhythm. I feel I'm important for the team.”

And indeed the Bavarians need Ribéry in top form as Saturday's match against Eintracht Frankfurt at 15.30 CET marks the start of a crucial phase featuring two matches a week. The international break came in handy for Ribéry because “every player could work more on himself.” Now the winger is fired up for the decisive weeks: “It's a very important phase for us.”

'Can't afford mistakes'

Ribéry is glad to have other strong wingers like Kingsley Coman and Douglas Costa as team-mates since the beginning of the season. Competition is not a problem: “If you're at a big club you need all the players. We're one group! Everybody does his part.” The crowd-pleaser recalled the most successful season in the club's history: “In 2013 it wasn't just Robben or Ribéry who won the treble. We all did!”

The Bavarians will need unity against Eintracht too. “Every match is important,” declared Ribéry: “We haven't yet wrapped up the championship, and Dortmund are strong. That's why we can't afford to make any mistakes.” Saturday's clash with the side lying 17th in the table is important for the rest of the season, stressed the winger: “We have to win to gain confidence – for Tuesday too.” Three days later the Reds take on Benfica at the Allianz Arena.