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Celebrating ten seasons of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery’s incredible double act

One world-class winger is a blessing... two is a miracle

5 minutes.

That’s all it took for Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben to successfully combine following the Dutchman’s transfer from Real Madrid to Bayern Munich in 2009.

Robben’s debut goal was assisted by the man he would call a team-mate for the next ten seasons.

That first link-up a metaphoric handshake, the embers of an understanding and a shared determination.

Ying meet Yang

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Ying meet Yang

Robbery, as the pair are known collectively, is a unique partnership

Unlike Xavi and Iniesta, or Henry and Bergkamp, this duo work best when distanced from the other.

Robben on the right wing, Ribery on the left, each making life hell for full-backs across Europe.

And yet their different also worked to the team’s advantage.

Robben’s trademark knock inside onto his fearsome left foot is in contrast to Ribery’s willingness to take defenders on the outside and crossing from the byline.

If one doesn’t get you, the other will.

Double the danger

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Double the danger

Despite nearly a decade of sharing a dressing room, injury troubles have restricted the number of the games the pair have played together.

But when they do take to the same field, Bayern reach their peak.

The pair win 78% of league games together — this is higher than both their individual league win percentages.

Such is the threat of both players, opposition sides are inclined to double up on each.

But with four players occupying Robbery, there’s plenty of space for Bayern’s other attacking forces to exploit.

Full-back body count: infinity

AFP OR LICENSORS
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Full-back body count: infinity

Though great friends today, the pair were not always so harmonious.

Ribery told Bundesliga: ” It’s a shame that we weren’t such good friends to start with, and there were a few disagreements.

The most notorious bust-up came relatively late in the pair’s relationship, during half-time of the 2012 Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.

Right-footers Ribery and Toni Kroos were debating who should take a free-kick when Robben told the former to walk away and leave it for the German.

Ribery took exception to Robben’s intervention and the pair had to be separated after coming to blows.

Trouble in paradise

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Trouble in paradise

Despite that heat-of-the-moment altercation, the wingers have become good friends away from the pitch.

Their friendship is built on mutual respect for the other’s ability and contribution to a trophy-laden decade.

Speaking after the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony, in which Ribery finished third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Robben said: “He’s done great and deserves the recognition.

“If we want to win titles, we need Ribery.”

What a waste

Reuters
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What a waste

Ribery’s podium finish came in the wake of Bayern’s historic treble.

Fittingly, it was Ribery who assisted Robben in the 89th minute of normal time against Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final.

The Frenchman’s back heel fell kindly for Robben, who scuffed his finish past Roman Weidenfeller to ensure a hat-trick of major trophies in a single season.

Perhaps the most important goal in Bayern’s history

Getty Images - Getty
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Perhaps the most important goal in Bayern’s history

In 2014, Robben finished as the highest ranked outfielder in the world behind Messi and Ronaldo in the Ballon d’Or voting, replicating Ribery’s achievement the previous year.

What a luxury for Bayern to be able to call upon two wingers of such outstanding quality for such a prolonged period of time.

The stats are evidence of an almost unbelievable spell of dominance.

No player has provided more assists in the Bundesliga (since records began) than Ribery.

While, Robben averages close to a goal every other game for the Bavarian giants.

Should they play their part in another league title success this season, Ribery will become Bayern’s most successful Bundesliga player of all time with nine medals.

Robben would draw level with Oliver Kahn, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mehmet Scholl in second place with eight titles to his name.

Enjoy them while it lasts

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Enjoy them while it lasts

This era-defining duo may never be matched.

Even top teams are fortunate to boast one world-class winger at a time — two of them is a miracle.

Both have their detractors.

Robben has been branded a diver for much of his career while Ribery’s personality has also lost him a few fans.

Their quality and effectiveness however, can not be questioned.

Not just Bayern Munich and Bundesliga legends, both Ribery and Robben can claim to up there with the very best of their generation on a global scale.


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