Deschamps: I hope Ribery is decisive

The Ballon d’Or candidate has been in lethal form for Bayern Munich this year and his France coach wants that to be carried on to the World Cup play-offs

Didier Deschamps says he hopes Franck Ribery is decisive for France, but does not mind who is as long as they beat Ukraine to reach the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Les Bleus face Mykhaylo Fomenko’s men in a play-off on Friday in Kiev before the second leg in Paris on Tuesday, with Ribery in stunning form for club side Bayern Munich, which has already earned him Uefa’s Best Player award and a nomination for the Ballon d’Or.

Deschamps is hoping for that form to be transferred to the national team, but insists it is not important who produces the goods for France as long as they seal a place at Brazil 2014.

“I hope Ribery is decisive, but if it’s him or someone else, it doesn’t matter,” he told reporters.

“Current form is not necessarily what I will select players on, but it’s a criteria. I’m not concerned about the form of [Mathieu] Valbuena, [Olivier] Giroud or [Eric] Abidal as they are dependent on their teams. It’s been a period a little more difficult for Abidal and Monaco, but I have no specific worries.”

Ukraine finished second in Group H behind England and ahead of Montenegro. Fomenko’s men proved difficult to penetrate, conceding only four goals from 10 games; the joint-best defensive record alongside England.

Deschamps believes his side will have their work cut out and will have to keep a close eye on the attacking prowess of Evgen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko.

“Ukraine concede few goals. Konoplyanka and Yarmolenko are their two main threats down the wings,” he said.

“I have no doubt there is support for the team. There will be fans in Ukraine and the Stade de France is already full.

“We cannot be considered in ‘big danger’ before the draw and considered to ‘have qualified’ the morning after.

“Ukraine will not be tourists.”

Bundesliga Team of the Week: Record-breakers Ribery and Boateng star

Schalke, Leverkusen and Bayern all claimed big wins on a weekend of action which saw Borussia Dortmund’s title hopes take a hit

The 12th matchday of the Bundesliga certainly belonged to Bayern Munich. The Bavarians recorded a 3-0 victory over Augsburg to break Hamburg’s long-standing record of 36 games without defeat, while Borussia Dortmund lost to Wolfsburg, to send the Bavarians four points clear.

Elsewhere, Schalke and Leverkusen claimed thrilling wins and both have stars named in Goal‘s Team of the Week.

In goal, we have Hertha Berlin star Thomas Kraft, who made a string of impressive saves as the capital club edged a five-goal thriller with Hoffenheim.

Mainz claimed a vital 1-0 win over Eintrach Frankfurt, with Zdenek Pospech an absolute rock at the back. He makes the back four alongside Ermin Bicakcic of Eintracht Braunschweig, Jerome Boateng, scorer of Bayern’s first. Finally, Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodriguez features on the left after scoring against BVB.

He is joined by club mate Slobodan Medojevic, who takes the anchor role in midfield. On the flanks, Timo Werner announced himself to the world with two excellent goals for Stuttgart against Freiburg and Franck Ribery scored a sublime free kick for Bayern. In between them, we have Kevin-Prince Boateng following his two-goal heroics for Schalke.

The front two netted five between them over the weekend. Adrian Ramos was key to Hertha’s victory at Hoffenheim, finding the net twice, while Heung-Min Son was the star of the weekend, helping Leverkusen crush former club Hamburg with a hat-trick in a 5-3 victory.

'Schweinsteiger injury is a catastrophe' – Hoeness

The Allianz Arena chief is gutted for the Germany international, who is not expected to feature again for the Bavarians this calendar year

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness says Bastian Schweinsteiger’s latest injury setback is a “catastrophe” for the midfielder after he was ruled out of action until 2014.

The 29-year-old is set to undergo surgery on his right ankle for the second time this year after a summer operation failed to solve the problem.

“For Bastian it is very bad, he had only just been back fighting fit again,” the 61-year-old told TZ. “And now he gets this setback – it’s a catastrophe.

“Bayern can compensate in his absence though.”

The reigning Bundesliga champions are still unable to confirm an official date when the Germany international will be ready to return, with sporting director Mathias Sammer revealing his treatment is still under discussion.

“There are still discussions to be had between the player and the physician on the operation,” he said. “And then Bayern have to meet to make decisions: where, when and how.”

Bayern will return to action after the international break with a crunch match at Borussia Dortmund on November 23.

Ballon d'Or Winner Betting Special: Why there could be value in backing Cristiano Ronaldo

Our Spanish football expert examines the odds for this prestigous award and feels the Real Madrid forward may be overpriced compared to Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi

Following on from Sepp Blatter’s rather unconventional impromptu performance a couple of weeks ago, this year’s Ballon d’Or has a little added spice to it.

The president of Fifa was asked whether he prefered Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo and after some peculiar theatrics the head of world football admitted his preference for the Argentine.

Yet it is neither the diminuitive Argentine, nor the Portuguese that lead the way in the betting for this year’s award, with Franck Ribery the 5/6 (1.83) favourite .

Having already been named by Uefa as their best player for the 2012-2013 season, the Frenchman’s dazzling displays in helping Bayern Munich achieve a stunning Bundesliga and Champions League double and a result have placed him firmly at the head of the betting.

He is ahead of the man who has won the prize for the last four years, in Messi, who has enjoyed another breathtaking year.

Yet the stratospheric benchmark that the Barcelona man has set for himself means his figures are less impressive than in other years, with Messi netting 45 goals so far this year, compared to the 91 with which he ended the previous 12 months.

Injuries have taken their toll yet Messi has still at times been utterly mesmerising and it should not be forgotten that his magic helped Barcelona claim La Liga title with a record 15-point gap over their nearest rivals in the last campaign.

Bet365 price Messi at 11/8 (2.38), but punters who want some real value will find it hard to resist what seems like an enormous price of 15/2 (8.50) for Cristiano Ronaldo to be awarded the trophy.

The Real Madrid forward is in the form of his life, having netted 62 goals this calendar year already. A lack of club honours for the previous campaign might go against him, although it is worth remembering that Ronaldo did end last season’s Champions League as the top scorer.

The Portugal international has put in consistently match-winning performances throughout the year, with his physical level seemingly never dipping below swaggering perfection.

Right now, he is in the best form of any player in the world and that reason is enough to make us consider a small investment in him to win despite him being an outsider for the prize.


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Phil Kitromilides is a sports journalist and TV Presenter in Madrid

Ribery: Guardiola demands even more Bayern success

The French winger and Ballon d’Or candidate spoke at length about the Spaniard’s impact at the Allianz Arena on French football programme ‘Le Club’

Franck Ribery has lauded the impact of Pep Guardiola on Bayern Munich and his own individual performances since the Spanish coach arrived in the summer.

The Bavarian side set a new Bundesliga milestone having gone 37 games unbeaten, beating Hamburg’s 30-year record, after brushing aside Augsburg 3-0 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

And the attacker intimated that a large part of their recent form has been down to Guardiola.

“He brings his technical touch, the same one he showed at Barcelona where he had done a great job,” he told beIN Sport programme ‘Le Club’.

“He came with his ideas and he wants to experience more success with us, more than he did with Barcelona. He wants to win with Bayern.”

The Frenchman scored the second against Augsburg with a brilliant free kick and was quick to emphasise the importance the former Barcelona coach has had on his own displays this season – displays that have led to him being tagged as one of the frontrunners for the Ballon d’Or.

“Everyday he is on the training ground speaking to lots of players. I am someone that needs to feel confident and close to the coach and I feel at ease with Pep Guardiola,” he continued.

“It wasn’t going to be easy for him coming in after Jupp Heynckes, who won everything, but he is happy to be with us.”

Ribery also talked briefly about Paris Saint-Germain and admitted that they are fast becoming a force to be reckoned with on the European stage.

“I think PSG are getting stronger each year and are getting in more and more great players,” the former Marseille star accepted.

“Many have experience at the top level, this is a team that can go all the way but it will come down to the small details.

“It’s good to see Paris playing as they are but we don’t talk about that in the changing rooms at Bayern, we focus on ourselves but we respect all other teams.”

There was a quick mention for his former club Marseille, and Ribery stated that despite having left the club they still hold an important place in his heart.

“I have a lot of good memories from Marseille. Being part of a club like that helped me after arriving at Bayern. I had a lot of fun with the players and the fans,” he said.

“At Marseille, you learn what football means and to fight for the shirt you’re wearing.”