FC Bayern München's schemer-in-chief Franck Ribéry will happily put his growing cup pedigree to the test against old foes FC Zenit St. Petersburg this evening.
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FC Bayern München's schemer-in-chief Franck Ribéry will happily put his growing cup pedigree to the test against old foes FC Zenit St. Petersburg.
Ribéry was on the losing side when he first met the Russian club in UEFA Cup action, with Olympique de Marseille in 2005/06, but will fancy his chances as part of a Bayern team chasing glory on four fronts. The 25-year-old wants a European trophy to complement the German Cup that he helped to bring to Bavaria last Saturday, saying: "We set out to win the cup and it was great for everyone connected with the football club to get our hands on that prize."
Respect for Zenit
The French international, who had previously lifted the Turkish Cup with Galatasaray AS in 2005, intends to build on Bayern's 2-1 final victory against BV Borussia Dortmund by seeing off Premier-Liga champions Zenit at the Allianz Arena. However, he warns that the semi-final first leg will be no stroll given the visitors' progress since their Round of 16 defeat of Marseille two seasons ago. "I played against them so I know a bit about them," he said. "They have come on even more since I last faced them. They have done well in this competition and seem genuine contenders to go all the way. With the good players they've got, this should be a really good game. I like their No10, Andrei Arshavin, and also the No8, Pavel Pogrebnyak. They are a strong, well-organised outfit and those two are excellent talents."
The Bayern playmaker should recognise a good attacker when he sees one: he and fellow summer signing Luca Toni are largely responsible for the Bundesliga leaders' forward thrust. Thanks to their inspiration, Ottmar Hitzfeld's men have a ten-point advantage in the table, and Ribéry – who missed through injury the German League Cup triumph in July – wishes to turn positions of supremacy into tangible success. "At the start of the season we wanted the League Cup and the German Cup, now we are well placed in the championship and are trying to add the UEFA Cup too. It is looking good for us."