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Ribéry plans a happy homecoming

Sidney Govou may be wary of facing international team-mate Franck Ribéry but the FC Bayern München winger is relishing the chance to display his dazzling talents as the German champions travel to Olympique Lyonnais.

Bayern's Franck Ribéry is savouring the opportunity to play in his native France
Bayern's Franck Ribéry is savouring the opportunity to play in his native France ©Getty Images

Sidney Govou could not resist a smile when asked if he was looking forward to catching up with his France team-mate Franck Ribéry at Stade de Gerland. "It'll be nice to see him before and after the game, but I don't think I'll be pleased to see him during the match," came the Olympique Lyonnais forward's honest response.

Inspirational form
Voted French Player of the Year for the second time running this week, Ribéry is undoubtedly the man Lyon fear most as they prepare to host FC Bayern München in a game that will determine which of these already-qualified sides wins UEFA Champions League Group F. The 25-year-old playmaker was an inspiration in his first term in the Bundesliga as Bayern clinched a domestic treble last season, and has kick-started their current campaign since recovering from injury in late September.

'Special game'
Indeed, the four-time European champions arrive in Lyon on a 14-match unbeaten run and, even more worryingly for Lyon fans, Ribéry seems even more determined to impress than usual on his return to France. "It's a special game for me," the former Olympique de Marseille winger said. "It feels nice to be back, although it's going to be strange to see so many familiar faces playing against me. I've got a lot of friends and family coming to watch so hopefully I can turn in a good performance."

Benzema partnership
One of his best friends will be lining up against him. Lyon striker Karim Benzema has developed an excellent rapport with Ribéry on and off the pitch during their time with Les Bleus, and the Bayern No7 is keen for that partnership to be extended to club level. "I'd love to play for the same club as Karim one day," Ribéry said. "I really appreciate him, both as a person and as a player. I'm pleased to hear that he's fit to play. Our defence will have to be very careful with him because he's at ease when he plays at Stade de Gerland and can be very dangerous."

'Strong desire'
Ribéry still follows French football closely and is aware of the problems OL have encountered in the last fortnight, losing two of their last three Ligue 1 games. "Lyon have had some bad results, and they've missed Karim in the last two matches," said the attacker, aware that only a victory or a scoring draw will enable his team to win the group ahead of their opponents. "I know Lyon and they always perform in the big games. I'm sure they'll be ready for us. They have quite a lot of players missing but they're a good side so we'll need to focus on our own game. We have come here with a strong desire to win or at least get the draw we need to top the group."