Franck Ribery dazzles German football
After scoring twice against VFB Stuttgart for Bayern Munich, resulting in the team effectively winning the Bundesliga, Franck Ribery is the new star of German football. There is much to be done at Bayern Munich, however.
Hamburg -- The German football community was still in awe of Franck Ribery on Tuesday.
"Franck Ribery has changed the Bundesliga and Bayern Munich in just one season,", wrote the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Mass circulation paper Bild simply titled a story "Merci Ribery."
The French midfielder only underlined his role as the top attraction of the Bundesliga on Sunday when he came off the bench to score twice in a 4-1 demolition of VFB Stuttgart with which Munich effectively clinched another Bundesliga title.
Italian team mate Luca Toni may be almost even more valuable for Munich with his 21 league-leading goals, but it is Ribery who has electrified the fans with a skill not seen in the German top flight for years.
"There was something like a circus atmosphere when Ribery came on. The fans really get a treat here," said Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
That was exactly what the club leadership had in mind when it dished out more than 70 million euros (109.4 million dollars) for new players like Miroslav Klose, Toni and Ribery after a poor 2007 campaign.
Ribery, 27, is the most expensive footballer in Munich history as his move from Olympique Marselle cost them 25 million euros.
The biggest investment in Munich club history was not only to bring it success but also to entertain the fans who had not necessarily been treated to spectacular football in recent years - despite all of Munich's success.
Ribery was an instant hit and even managed to get opposing fans on their feet; something rarely achieved as Munich are usually either loved or hated.
"Ribery has changed the league. The league bows before this player in such a way that it can't even begrudge Bayern the title," said the SZ.
A long range blast high into the net Sunday was the latest super-goal for the Frenchman who has remained modest despite the hype.
"I am a simple person," said Ribery. "I never really considered how things would be in Munich. I simply wanted to play football and have fun."
Ribery has provided plenty of fun on and off the pitch, on the domestic front where Munich have also won the cup in what will be yet another German double.
But in order to make a real impression, Ribery, and Munich, must now also deliver on the continental front on Thursday when they take a meagre 1-1 draw into a UEFA Cup semi-final return leg to Zenit St Petersburg.
"It (Munich) has grown beyond the league but isn't big enough yet to be European class," said the SZ, naming this assessment "depressing for the Bundesliga."
But Munich remain confident that can remain on course towards an unprecedented title treble.
The second trophy, in the Bundesliga, should be completed on Sunday when Munich visit in-form VfL Wolfsburg. The hosts are led by former Bayern coach Felix Magath, who also had nothing but praise for Ribery.
"He is playing a great season," Magath said of Ribery. "A superb footballer, the icing on the cake for the Bundesliga."