Bayern rocked by Robben injury

The Dutchman faces a spell on the sidelines due to a knee problem and will not feature again before the winter break

Bayern Munich will have to make do without the services of Arjen Robben for the remainder of the year after the winger suffered a knee injury.

The Netherlands international scored the opening goal in Bayern’s 2-0 DFB Pokal win over Augsburg on Wednesday evening but was forced to leave the pitch after only 16 minutes of play following a reckless challenge from Marwin Hitz.

The Bundesliga champions were initially hopeful that the attacker had merely sustained a flesh wound, but Robben’s father – and agent – has now made it clear that the 29-year-old will not feature again in 2013 as he has also suffered ligament damage.

“He will not play again before the winter break,” Hans Robben told NOS.

Robben has been in sublime form for Bayern this season, scoring 13 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions.

Stricken Robben in hospital drama

The Dutchman opened the scoring before being stretchered off in Bayern Munich’s DFB Pokal round of 16 victory over Augsburg

Bayern Munich are sweating on the fitness of Arjen Robben after the Dutchman was taken to hospital on Wednesday night.

Robben was substituted after only 16 minutes of Bayern’s DFB Pokal round of 16 encounter with Augsburg following a nasty looking collision with hosts’ goalkeeper Marwin Hitz, leaving him with a gash on his right knee.

The winger had to be stretchered off as he was unable to walk off the park and was replaced by Thomas Muller.

There is no indication of how long Robben could be sidelined, but the Bavarians’ sporting director Matthias Sammer says the 29-year-old was taken to hospital to cleanse the wound.

It put a dampener on what was a successful night for Pep Guardiola’s men as they overcame Augsburg 2-0 to seal their place in the next round.

Robben had initially given Bayern the lead after only four minutes before his night came to an abrupt end when he collided with Hitz.

And the Oranje star’s replacement Muller scored the clincher on 78 minutes after good work by Jerome Boateng.

Hoeness: Ronaldo can't beat Ribery to Ballon d'Or over 'one game'

The former West Germany international has lamented the fact that there has been a groundswell of support for the Portuguese because of his World Cup play-off heroics

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness claims it would be unjust if Cristiano Ronaldo pips Franck Ribery to this year’s Ballon d’Or on the back of “one game”.

Ribery was considered the clear favourite for the prestigious Fifa award on account of the integral role he played in the Bavarians’ historic treble success last season.

However, Hoeness now fears that the groundswell of support that accompanied Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Portugal’s dramatic World Cup play-off victory over Sweden in Solna in November could – wrongfully, as the 61-year-old sees it – tip the balance in favour of the prolific Real Madrid attacker.

“Ronaldo has, of course, contributed significantly to the fact that Portugal has qualified for the World Cup,” the Bayern supremo told Sport Bild.

“But I would have absolutely no understanding of the situation if Franck did not win the Ballon d’Or after being named [Uefa’s] Best Player in Europe. There is a whole year to be judged – not just one game.

“I feel that public opinion has shifted. But, in the meantime, for me, nothing has changed. There can be only Ribery as the winner [of the Ballon d’Or].”

Pique wants end to comparisons with Guardiola's Barcelona

The Spain international concedes that the Blaugrana are not as strong as they were in 2009 but says that it is time to move on and focus on the future

Gerard Pique freely admits that the current Barcelona line-up does not compare to the Pep Guardiola-led side that lift six trophies – but is in no doubt that the Catalans will compete for titles under new boss Gerardo Martino.

Much has been made of the more direct approach adopted by the Blaugrana this season, particularly after the back-to-back defeats to Ajax and Athletic Bilbao, but the Spain international says that the players are fully behind the tactics employed by their new Argentine trainer.

Pique also feels that it is futile to continually contrast this season’s side with the one that swept all before them in 2009.

“We have stopped thinking about it,” the centre-half told reporters on Wednesday. “We don’t compare ourselves with the team that won six trophies in one year. We will lose in every comparison.

“We’re going to take everything step by step and in March and April we’ll see where we are and what we aspire to.

“The level of expectation is the same. [Martino] is learning the ropes and he knows how it works. He’s a professional and he’s been well received by the dressing room. I take my hat off to him.”

Pique admitted, though, that he and his team-mates had been hurt by the insinuation that they are no longer working as hard, either in competitive games or on the training field.

“I like criticism to be constructive,” he explained. “But a lack of respect is quite another thing, as happened the other day when [midfielder Andres] Iniesta was asked if we were training well.

“We all accept criticism; of course we do. I don’t think it’s a lack of respect to say that we need to change our squad.

“But it’s impossible for a team to press for the whole game. Before, when we used to have the ball a lot we were able to rest more.

“Now, we find it harder to hold onto the ball because we are playing in a more direct way, but the team still wants to press.

“The coach has adapted to the methods of Barcelona and has sought support from the people who were already here. We are grateful he has done this and changed his customs. But when it comes to tactics, he calls the shots.

“We’ve had ups and downs, like the game in Amsterdam [against Ajax], which was unforgivable. But we need to show that we aren’t in a depression and that we are ready to start winning again.”

Pique added that he has just opened talks with Barcelona about extending his stay at Camp Nou.

“We are at the initial stage,” he explained. “We have just had one meeting.”

Real Madrid & Bayern Munich head FIFPro defender nominations

Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Pepe form the Blancos contingent, while the Bavarian quartet consists of David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Dante and Philipp Lahm

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich both have four representatives apiece on the shortlist of defenders for Fifa’s FIFPro World XI for 2013.

Los Blancos quartet Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Pepe are all nominated, as are Bayern Munich’s treble-winners David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Dante and Philipp Lahm.

Both Liga champions Barcelona and Europa League winners Chelsea have three contenders each. The Blaugrana are represented by Jordi Alba, Dani Alves and Gerard Pique, while David Luiz, Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic make up the Blues contingent.

Manchester City contribute two candidates in the form Argentine full-back Pablo Zabaleta and Belgium centre-half Vincent Kompany.

Elsewhere, Nemanja Vidic is Manchester United’s sole representative, while Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian defender Thiago Silva, Borussia Dortmund centre-half Mats Hummels and Everton left-back Leighton Baines also make the cut.

There is not a single player from Serie A on the 20-strong shortlist.

Iker Casillas featured among the goalkeepers nominated for the FIFPro team on Monday. The 15 midfielders and 15 forwards in contention will be unveiled on December 6 and 9, respectively, with the final XI set to be announced at the Fifa Ballon d’Or award ceremony in Zurich on January 13.

FIFPro World XI Shortlist of Defenders: David Alaba (Austria, Bayern Munich); Jordi Alba (Spain, Barcelona); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona); Leighton Baines (England, Everton); Jerome Boateng (Germany, Bayern Munich); Ashley Cole (England, Chelsea); Dante (Brazil, Bayern Munich); Mats Hummels (Germany, Borussia Dortmund); Branislav Ivanovic (Serbia, Chelsea); Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich); David Luiz (Brazil, Chelsea); Vincent Kompany (Belgium, Manchester City); Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Pepe (Portugal, Real Madrid); Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona); Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid); Thiago Silva (Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain); Raphael Varane (France, Real Madrid); Nemanja Vidic (Serbia, Manchester United); Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina, Manchester City).