Bayern: Ribery obliged to deliver this season

BERLIN - Bayern Munich have told playmaker Franck Ribery he must deliver when the new Bundesliga season kicks off on Friday as payback for the club supporting him through injuries and scandals last term.

The holders open their campaign against 2009 champions VfL Wolfsburg and the spotlight is likely to be on Ribery after a troubled season where he was involved in a French prostitution ring investigation and suspended for the Champions League final.

"Franck is in a way obliged to deliver now," club president Uli Hoeness told reporters on Wednesday.

"He knows that himself. The club backed him 100 percent and Franck knows that this was not necessarily self-evident for all his problems."

Frenchman Ribery, who missed most of the first half of last season with a knee injury, said he could not wait to start the season and put his troubles behind him.

"Last season was for me, my family and all the people involved, very sad," said the midfielder, who on Tuesday was banned three matches by the French football federation (FFF) for his part in a training boycott during the World Cup over the expulsion of striker Nicolas Anelka.

"This season I want to be fully fit and play all the games. I will play a great season, for me , my club and the fans."

Bayern have not been active on the transfer market, sticking with the team that won the German league and Cup double and lost the Champions League final to Inter Milan. Hoeness has said they could still sign a player before the transfer window closes.

Bayern's Dutch winger Arjen Robben will miss Friday's game which will be former England coach Steve McClaren's first league match in charge of Wolfsburg.

Robben is nursing a muscle injury that was aggravated during the World Cup and will keep him out for another month and a half.


For Schalke 04, runners-up last season, the preparations for their trip to Hamburg SV on Saturday are far from perfect.

Coach Felix Magath has yet to decide whether he will use former Real Madrid striker Raul, who is not yet fully fit, in their season opener.

Magath, who took over last year to steer them to a surprise second place and a Champions League spot, is also battling his own fans, angry with the sacking of a long-time fan representative on the board and the signing of Christoph Metzelder.

The 29-year-old defender, who joined from Real, formerly played for Borussia Dortmund, Schalke's bitter Ruhr region rivals.

Former Germany captain Michael Ballack could mark his official Bundesliga return as early as Sunday, when his new club Bayer Leverkusen travel to Borussia Dortmund, weakened by the departure of Paraguay international Nelson Valdez.

Ballack is on the road to full recovery after an ankle injury he sustained in last season's FA Cup final with Chelsea that meant he missed the World Cup.

Werder Bremen will also struggle to fill the gap left by gifted midfielder Mesut Ozil, who agreed to join Real, when they travel to Hoffenheim.

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