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Franck Ribéry admits he is thriving on the growing sense of expectation surrounding his possible inclusion in the FC Bayern München side to face Olympique Lyonnais in Group F tonight.
'I feel good'
The winger, who missed Bayern's 1-0 win at FC Steaua Bucureşti two weeks ago, has made just two substitute appearances this season since recovering from a serious ankle injury sustained with France at UEFA EURO 2008™. With Bayern having made a faltering start to their Bundesliga title defence, and with the French champions arriving in Bavaria, the clamour for Ribéry's return has been deafening. "I try not to worry too much about that, but I'm happy people are expecting a lot from me. That means I must be doing something right on the pitch," said Ribéry, who emerged from the bench at half-time of Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Hannover 96. "But I've only played a handful of minutes against [1. FC] Nürnberg [in the German Cup] and a half in Hannover – that's not much. I feel good though and want to get back to the sort of form I was in last season."
Named the Bundesliga's best player in his maiden campaign, Ribéry was both key to the club's seventh league and cup double, and the inspiration behind their run to the UEFA Cup semi-finals under Ottmar Hitzfeld. Klinsmann's arrival this summer saw a number of changes initiated, with Ribéry backing the new coach's methods to come good. "The coach has come in and changed a lot of things since the end of last season. It's difficult at the moment, but it's not a catastrophe," said the 25-year-old. "When you play at Bayern, you are always under pressure to win. We haven't been able to do that in our last two league matches, but we have to forget about that and concentrate on beating Lyon." The Hannover reverse followed a 5-2 home thrashing by Werder Bremen.
The sight of the former Olympique de Marseille player on the pitch against his compatriots would be the perfect tonic for Klinsmann, and a major concern for Lyon who rescued a point in a 2-2 Matchday 1 draw against ACF Fiorentina having gone two goals behind. With Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ribéry to contend with, Lyon's Mathieu Bodmer is fully aware of Bayern's threat. "Their strengths are going forward – there's lots of movement, Ribéry is coming back, and their strikers are all internationals," said Bodmer, who has been converted from silky midfielder to stoic central defender. "But we've seen recently that they concede goals. We mustn't concede ourselves and hopefully our forwards can do something at the other end. The most important thing is not to concede a goal."
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