Franck Ribéry had to support himself with his hands on his knees when he stood in front of the south stand shortly before 6 pm on Saturday evening. The Frenchman wanted to say a few words to his fans, but he wasn't able to get anything out. Overcome by emotion, tears streaming down his cheeks, the 36-year-old just about managed a shaky "thank you". It was the highlight of a breath-taking day on which FC Bayern said goodbye to three huge players in the club's history and were crowned champions for the 29th time after a 5-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.
On a day on which the weather had already created the perfect conditions with bright sunshine and summer temperatures, Uli Hoeneß summed up Matchday 34 of the 2018/19 season perfectly: "You couldn't have scripted it better." The first emotional moment came before kick-off, when Arjen Robben, Rafinha and Ribéry were honoured for their wonderful performances in Bayern colours and the club officially bade them farewell. "There's a lot of emotion coursing through your whole body. You can't put it into words," said Robben, who also had tears in his eyes when images from his career were shown on the big screens.
Full steam ahead for the title
Right from kick-off a little later, it immediately became clear that the Reds intended to leave no doubt as to who would be holding the Meisterschale at the end. "This was a final for us. We didn't just want to win, we wanted to show who the German champions are," explained Robert Lewandowski, who once again secured the top scorer trophy with a total of 22 goals. Bayern immediately put their foot down and Kingsley Coman fired his team into the lead after just four minutes.
After that Lewandowski & Co pushed for a second goal, but the ball just didn't want to go in the net. Hoeneß paid tribute to the Frankfurt keeper, who was repeatedly called into action: "I've never seen a game at a high level where Bayern had so many 100% scoring chances. [Kevin] Trapp was making saves like a madman." It was also down to him that the Reds enjoyed just the slimmest of leads as the teams headed for the dressing rooms at half-time, a lead that was cancelled-out shortly after the break by substitute Sebastian Haller in the 50th minute.
Alaba‘s goal heralds the breakthrough
However, the Bavarians were not to be put off and David Alaba fired the hosts back in front just three minutes later. "David's goal was the most important," said Hoeneß, who, like Thomas Müller, felt that "the dam had burst" afterwards. Niko Kovac's analysis was similar: "After we made it 2-1 it was clear we would find space because of Frankfurt's hard season, and we used it very well." Consequently, Renato Sanches was able to add a third goal in the 58th minute. It was the Portugal player's first-ever Bundesliga goal and for the record champions the prelude to some very special moments.
Shortly afterwards Ribéry was ready to come on as a substitute (61st minute) and six minutes later Robben also got the signal to go. The Dutchman ran to the bench in a full sprint. "It was like a greyhound trying to get out of the cage at the start. I wanted to get on quickly, enjoy it and have fun," the 35-year-old said. And so 'Robbéry' were on the pitch for the 100th and last time together in a competitive match at the Allianz Arena - and it only took four minutes for the Frenchman to bring the stadium to the boil.
Farewell with goals and the Meisterschale
In the 72nd minute, following a fantastic display of dribbling he scooped the ball into the net to make it 4-1, and it wasn't just the goalscorer who felt a wave of emotion. "When he scored such an incredible goal on a day like today, I was overcome because I was happy for him," said Hoeneß, who also reported that he was sitting in the stand with tears in his eyes. "Franck scored a goal, it was world class, it was absolutely top-notch, you can't do it better," enthused Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. And it was to get even better in the 79th minute, because Robben was also granted a goal to say goodbye at home. The pacy winger topped-off the 5-1 victory and rewarded himself and the Reds with the "happy end", as he himself called it.
You couldn't have imagined a better farewell, for there was also the trophy presentation to round off the afternoon. And so, for the seventh time in a row, the silverware went to Munich and for the first time, the Bavarians clinched the title at home in the Allianz Arena. The only downside was the early substitution of Leon Goretzka due to injury, which also meant that Rafinha was denied a game. All in all, however, it was a remarkable day and everyone involved will never forget it. Ribéry summed-up the day perfectly: "My whole family came from France. This is a special moment. It was also difficult, but what counts for me is that we are champions."