You may not catch Mark van Bommel wearing pink boots but the FC Bayern München captain is willing to forgive Franck Ribéry's fashion statement if the Frenchman continues his scintillating form against FC Steaua Bucureşti.
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You might not catch no-nonsense midfielder Mark van Bommel wearing pink boots, but the FC Bayern München captain will forgive Franck Ribéry his latest fashion statement if the Frenchman continues his scintillating form against FC Steaua Bucureşti.
'One of the best'
Ribéry gave a debut to his Pink Panthers in Saturday's 4-1 Bundesliga victory over FC Energie Cottbus, scoring his sixth goal in seven outings for Bayern. "I'm more of a classic guy, but when you're that good you can get away with wearing them," Van Bommel conceded. "I've seen in training that he can be one of the best in the world. If he played in England or Spain then he'd be more of a star. The Bundesliga is good but if he played in one of those two countries, he'd be even more in the spotlight. But I'm glad he plays for us."
Ribéry's return from a serious ankle injury sustained at UEFA EURO 2008™ has galvanised a Bayern side who had made an unconvincing start to their Bundesliga title defence. Jürgen Klinsmann's team have lost just once in 13 matches since the former Olympique de Marseille winger's comeback in late September, and if they extend that sequence against Steaua, a place in the first knockout round beckons. A point will suffice to clinch a last-16 spot but with Bayern bidding to finish top of Group F, Van Bommel wants all three. "It's very important because it means you play the second leg of your knockout round tie at home," said the 31-year-old, a member of the FC Barcelona side that won the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League after doing exactly that three times en route to the final. "It makes a big difference."
Steaua's ambitions of reaching the last 16 were extinguished by a 2-0 defeat by Olympique Lyonnais on Matchday 4, yet a first success in seven games on German soil in European competition would ensure they remain in contention for third place and a UEFA Cup berth. Coach Dorinel Munteanu is aware, however, that the man in the pink boots could single-handedly ruin that dream. "He's the best player in the world at the moment," said the former Romanian international. "Ribéry and the other Bayern players are very good – we know that. We have to hope they're not at their best."