While Arjen Robben got most of the attention after Bayern Munich finally won a Champions League final, it was Franck Ribery and two incredible passes that set up both of the goals for his team, showing that facing the hardest working right flank in the world isn’t that much of a hindrance when you’ve got the talent to overcome a mostly rough day.
And Ribery wasn’t too involved for most of the match, but it’s not what Bayern need from their most talented and creative player. They need Thomas Muller and Mario Mandzukic to have possession. When the two of them begin getting involved, Bayern look, and looked much better in a match which didn’t begin in the best of ways for them.
The pressure from Dortmund denied any sort of attempt to get the ball to their two forwards, while Robben and Ribery tried, with no avail, to break through the high pressure Dortmund were applying. But it’s impossible to press Bayern for more than 15-20 minutes, and the moment Mandzukic and Muller started getting their touches, their fantastic combination created more and more space for Arjen Robben to operate in, which ended up in miss after miss, or bad decision after bad decision, for the first four or five chances.
In truth, Ribery was lucky to avoid a red card. Early on he elbowed Robert Lewandowski in the face while the Polish striker was grabbing him in the middle of the pitch. Luckily for Ribery, Lewandowski made a mockery of the dive, making it impossible for the referee to rewards him, instead getting penalized for a foul.
After the 35th minute, we hardly heard from Dortmund again, except for their penalty kick equalizer and another chance two minutes later. Javi Martinez took out Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus, rarely getting a chance to break through a counter attack. Robert Lewandowski felt more and more unemployed as Dortmund resorted to long ball tactics which weren’t very successful.
Ribery’s first magical moment came as he draw two defenders to him, while Arjen Robben slipped by and behind the defense. Ribery found him with a a daft little touch, leading up to the first goal. In the second goal, the 89th minute winner, Ribery tried a cheeky pass with his heel, that rolled just about enough on a Dortmund foot to give the slicing Robben the ball in a less than comfortable situation, but even he couldn’t finish the match with five one on one missed chances.
There were players who deserved more praise for overall work during the match than Ribery – Philip Lahm was impeccable as usual on the right wing, focusing mostly on defense. The Javi Martinez – Bastian Schweinsteiger midfield duo steamrolled Dortmund into submission as the match went on. Manuel Neuer was perfect any time he was called upon to do something.
But the rare moments of creativity always grab the headlines. They’re easier to identify, to appreciate. Franck Ribery has lost his share of finals until Mary 26, 2013. In a match that was far from his finest, he had enough brilliance at the perfect timing to make sure he wouldn’t lose again.