Ribery: I would be poor and unemployed without football

The 30-year-old acknowledges he is lucky to have enjoyed a stellar career after a difficult upbringing and claims his early life helped to turn him “into a fighter”

Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery believes his career as a professional footballer has helped to save him from poverty and unemployment.

The Frenchman grew up in difficult circumstances in Boulogne-sur-Mer in a low-income suburb of the city, before the opportunity to join the Lille academy and then the Boulogne senior side offered him an escape route into football.

Ribery has gone on to enjoy a stellar career as arguably one of France’s greatest modern players, but the 30-year-old insists he will never forget a past which helped to shame him as a professional.

“I come from the ghetto, from nothing. I have been through it all,” Ribery was quoted as saying by Sport Bild.

“Where I come from, people are very poor and I would have been poor as well now if it weren’t for football. And I would probably be unemployed as well, like so many other people in the area.

“Whenever I go shopping, I always remind myself of how good things are now. You can’t forget your past.

“It only makes you stronger when you have been through difficult situations and are now successful here at Bayern. It has turned me into a fighter. These difficult moments have formed my character.”

Ribery moved on from Boulogne to wear the jerseys of Ales, Stade Brestois, Metz, Galatasaray and Olympique de Marseille before joining Bayern in the summer of 2007.

He has since developed into one of the best players in the world and is one of the three remaining candidates to win the 2013 Fifa Ballon d’Or alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Guardiola: It is an honour to coach Ribery

The Bayern Munich boss has hailed the Frenchman’s willingness to track back and make sacrifices for the team and is eagerly anticipating Saturday’s Club World Cup final

Pep Guardiola says he feels honoured to coach Franck Ribery after the France international helped Bayern Munich into the Club World Cup final on Tuesday.

Ribery scored the opening goal in Bayern’s 3-0 semi-final win over Guangzhou Evergrande, with Mario Mandzukic and Mario Gotze also finding the net in Agadir, and Guardiola had nothing but praise for the Ballon d’Or nominee after the final whistle.

“For me it is an honour to be Ribery’s coach,” the Bayern boss said.

“Franck has an unbelievable heart to play this game and is humble enough to track back up to 40 metres time and time again, to follow his opponent and help the team.

“For me it is an honour to be able to train him.”

Bayern scored three goals in the space of seven minutes either side of the break to progress to the final of the Club World Cup and will now play either Raja Casablanca or Atletico Mineiro in Saturday’s final.

“I am so, so happy for the players, Jupp Heynckes and the club to play the final next Saturday and I hope to bring this title to Germany for the first time,” Guardiola continued.

“We have to prepare our head and our legs as soon as possible. The most important thing is to know we have a unique opportunity in our lives to play this final.

“It is not easy to be here, it is so difficult to try to become the best team in the world. So it is a good challenge for us and good preparation. Raja or Mineiro are going to play as well as possible to win this title.”

The final is scheduled to take place in Marrakech on Saturday.

Bayern on another level, says Beckenbauer

Der Kaiser lavished praise on the Bavarians after they moved to within one victory of their fifth title of 2013 thanks to goals from Franck Ribery, Mario Mandzukic and Mario Gotze

Franz Beckenbauer claimed Bayern Munich are currently on “another footballing level” after watching the European champions seal their place in the final of the Club World Cup with a 3-0 win over Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday.

Franck Ribery, Mario Mandzukic and Mario Gotze were all on target for Pep Guardiola’s men, who also hit the woodwork on four separate occasions.

Beckenbauer was full of praise for Bayern, who are bidding to win their fifth trophy of 2013.

“I believe the opponents are better than they showed, but Bayern are simply on another footballing level,” the Germany legend told reporters in Agadir.

Bayern captain Philipp Lahm revealed was similarly enthused by his side’s performance against Guangzhou, who had only lost four previous games this year.

“We’re determined to win the title, but we’re going to enjoy the experience, especially if we pick up the trophy on Saturday [against either Atletico Mineiro or Raja Casablanca],” the versatile full-back stated.

“What’s great is that we’re playing in a tournament that none of us have played in yet. That makes it special.”

Guangzhou Evergrande 0-3 Bayern Munich: Ribery, Mandzukic & Gotze seal final spot

Goals from Franck Ribery, Mario Mandzukic and Mario Gotze gave Bayern Munich a 3-0 victory over Guangzhou Evergrande and sealed a place in the Club World Cup final.

The semi-final clash between the champions of Europe and Asia proved something of a mismatch, as Bayern dominated proceedings from start to finish in Agadir, progressing courtesy of goals from Franck Ribery, Mario Mandzukic and Mario Gotze.

Pep Guardiola’s side had to be patient as Guangzhou somehow held firm until five minutes before the break, when Ribery – restored to the starting XI after featuring as a substitute in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Hamburg – volleyed home.

This opened the floodgates for the Bundesliga leaders, as Mandzukic and Gotze added goals two and three either side of half-time.

Marcello Lippi’s Guangzhou failed to register a single shot on target throughout the game, and Bayern go into Saturday’s final against Atletico Mineiro or Raja Casablanca in ominous form.

Bayern asserted their authority from the off, but struggled to create clear-cut chances against Guangzhou’s well-drilled rearguard.

The German giants almost went ahead after 17 minutes, though, when Thiago Alcantara neatly chested down Rafinha’s cross before striking the outside of the post.

Guardiola’s men then began turning the screw on their Chinese opponents, and Toni Kroos went even closer to breaking the deadlock when he rifled a half-volley off the underside of the bar following a free-flowing move down the right.

Unperturbed by their bad luck, Bayern continued to probe and finally edged ahead in the 40th minute courtesy of Ribery’s eighth goal of the season.

A scramble in the penalty area ended with the ball dropping to the Frenchman, whose controlled left-footed volley from an acute angle crept under Zeng Cheng.

Guangzhou continued to come under sustained pressure from Bayern, who duly doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time when Mandzukic headed home Thiago’s pinpoint cross.

And Bayern simply picked up where they left off after the interval, as Gotze extended his side’s lead in brilliant fashion just two minutes into the second period.

The 21-year-old playmaker received a pass from Alaba on the right, took a touch and hit an unstoppable, swerving shot from 20 yards into the far corner.

Bayern appeared in no mood to take mercy on Lippi’s men, and Gotze was twice thwarted by Zeng in quick succession around the hour mark – efforts that sandwiched a close-range Ribery strike that clipped the bar.

Substitute Xherdan Shaqiri was next to try his luck as the Germans continued shooting at Zeng at will, before Gotze again went close.

There was still time for Bayern to hit the woodwork for the fourth time in the game as Gotze struck the bar, but Guangzhou managed to salvage some pride by keeping the scoreline respectable.

Schweinsteiger: I will return in time for World Cup

The German international has dismissed fears that he will not be fit for next summer’s tournament, as well as insisting that his rehabilitation process is going to plan

Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is confident he will return from injury in time for next summer’s World Cup.

The German, who has made over 100 appearances for his national side, has been sidelined by an ankle injury since mid-November and, despite undergoing two operations since August, has yet to return to training with the Bundesliga champions.

“I have not had a moment’s concern about missing the World Cup,” Schweinsteiger told SID.

The midfielder is eager to return in a bid to help his Bayern side, who are seven points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, to retain the championship.

However, he will not feature for the Bavarians when they play Guangzhou Evergrande in the Club World Cup semi-final on Tuesday.

“It’s annoying that I can’t play, but I have to look after my body. It’s not the first time [I’ve been injured],” he continued.

“Light jogging is possible now, but no ball work. It’ll take a while yet, but I am working harder in training than when I was fit.”