Ribery: I deserve to win Ballon d'Or

The winger, who has shone as Bayern Munich won the treble in May and been brilliant this season, believes he has taken his game up a level recently

Bayern Munich attacker Franck Ribery says he deserves to win this year’s Ballon d’Or over fellow frontrunners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Frenchman has shone in 2013 as the Bavarians stormed to a Bundesliga title win, lifted the DFB-Pokal and became European champions, and have started the current campaign under new coach Pep Guardiola in terrific fashion too.

The Germany international will have a tough time topping Barcelona’s Messi and Real Madrid’s Ronaldo, but he is confident that his improvements over the past 12 months have earned him the accolade over the more favoured Liga duo.

“I try not to think about the Ballon d’Or,” the 30-year-old told L’Equipe. “But my wife has already prepared the space above the fireplace in the living room.

“I do get a lot of belief from her and all of Bayern. I do not know if I will win, however I think I deserve it.

“Before I was a good player, now I think I’m the best.”

Ribery is expected to feature in France’s World Cup play-off qualifiers with Ukraine on the upcoming week, starting with the away leg on Friday.

Schweinsteiger set for early return

Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger could return from his ankle injury sooner than expected, the club have confirmed.

The 29-year-old underwent an operation on Wednesday for an ankle problem that he has suffered with previously, and reports suggested that he faced an extended spell on the sidelines. 

However, the club moved to deny those rumours and president Uli Hoeness stated on Wednesday that the operation had been successful.

“Bastian has just texted Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. His operation has gone very well,” Hoeness said at Bayern’s annual general meeting. 

“We’re very optimistic that his injury lay-off won’t be as long as we initially feared. It’s looking a lot better than we originally thought.”

Schweinsteiger’s last appearance for Bayern came in the UEFA Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen on November 5. 

Hoeness to ask for vote of confidence

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness will ask the club for a vote of confidence ahead of his tax evasion trial in March.

Hoeness’ trial will get under way on March 10 and the former Bayern player has repeatedly stated his innocence.

The 61-year-old offered his resignation from the Bundesliga leaders in May, only for it to be rejected, although he denied that he ever planned on stepping down from his position.

He added at Bayern’s annual general meeting on Wednesday that he intends to stay on, provided he receives a “clear mandate” from the German champions, stating that he “never considered stepping down, because the club never proposed it to me”.

“(I) submit myself to the will of the membership by asking for a vote of confidence,” he said.

“I wish to give the membership the right to decide whether I’m still the right president for this club.”

Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, after announcing that Bayern had recorded the best financial results in 113 years, gave his backing to Hoeness. 

“I’m his friend and true friendship shows itself when there are problems,” he said.

“Seeing you, dear members, pay tribute to Uli, I believe FC Bayern as a whole is his friend.”

On the financial results, which revealed a record turnover of €432.8million for the year and a profit of €14m, Rummenigge said it represented a peak for the club. 

“We’ve all been through an unbelievable year,” he added, “It’s probably the most extraordinary and wonderful time ever in the 113-year history of FC Bayern.

“It can never have been better to be a fan of this football club. You won’t believe how proud I am of this club.”

Ribery: People in France seem to prefer Messi & Ronaldo for Ballon d'Or

The Bleus ace has voiced his disappointment that he does not receive the same adulation as the star duo – even within his homeland

Franck Ribery feels that people within his native France would rather Barcelona forward Lionel Messi or Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo win the Fifa Ballon d’Or instead of him.

The 30-year-old winger is one of the main candidates to win the prestigious award following his successful 2012-13 campaign with treble winners Bayern Munich, yet he is under the impression that his compatriots would prefer to see one of the Liga stars triumph.

“Am I one of the outsiders for the Ballon d’Or? I could probably do with a bit more support,” Ribery was quoted as saying by Le 10 Sport.

“I get the impression that the people in France seem to prefer Messi and Ronaldo and I really wonder why.

“I have been very strong in 2013, I was consistent all year and I won a lot of trophies. It would be a great honour for me, for my family and for my kids.”

The 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or will be reduced to three players in early December, with the winner to be announced on January 13.

Boateng: I don't fear Balotelli

The Bayern Munich defender is determined to make life hard for the flamboyant attacker when they meet at San Siro

Germany international Jerome Boateng has insisted ahead of Friday’s international friendly against Italy that he does not fear Mario Balotelli.

The AC Milan striker netted twice in the Euro 2012 semi-final between the two sides to lead the Azzurri to a stirring 2-1 win, yet Boateng is confident that he has what it takes to stop Balotelli this time around.

“He eliminated us at Euro 2012, but that does not mean that I fear him,” the Bayern Munich defender told Bild.

“He is one of the best strikers around in Europe. It’s very hard to stop him when he’s 100 per cent. But that’s a nice challenge for our defence and for me personally.

“It’s impossible to keep a striker like Balotelli quiet for the full 90 minutes, but it’s up to me to make sure he does not make an impact. I want to make things hard for him.”

Friday’s friendly at San Siro is scheduled to kick off at 20:45CET.