Arjen Robben reflects on FC Bayern München's glorious 2012/13 and looks forward to more success this season – starting with Friday's UEFA Super Cup game in Prague.
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When Arjen Robben wheeled away in delight after tucking in the decisive goal in May's UEFA Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund, his joy mixed with relief. The winger's two previous finals, against Chelsea FC and FC Internazionale Milano, had ended in defeat, but here his strike helped FC Bayern München claim Wembley glory.
Now recharged after a summer break, the 29-year-old Dutchman says he and his team-mates are enjoying working with new coach Josep Guardiola and aiming to beat Chelsea in order to add a first UEFA Super Cup to Bayern's trophy haul.
UEFA.com: Would winning the UEFA Super Cup be the perfect start to the season for Bayern?
Arjen Robben: It's not about the new season, more the prize itself. We've won the Champions League, so this is a new title we can win this year and one we have never won before.
UEFA.com: What do you expect from the game with José Mourinho's Chelsea?
Robben: Chelsea have had two wonderful years and now their old coach has returned. I think very highly of Mourinho. It will be a great match.
UEFA.com: The 2012/13 season must have felt like redemption after going so close the previous campaign …
Robben: With the disappointment of the season before – losing two finals and finishing second in the league – everyone was eager to win from day one. Nobody would have dreamed we'd win three trophies, but the morale of the team was very high.
UEFA.com: What are your recollections of the UEFA Champions League final?
Robben: It was a great feeling for me, and a reward for us going on and having faith that it was going to happen. If you know the pain of defeat, then this tastes very sweet.
UEFA.com: Was your late winner in the Wembley final something of a fairy tale?
Robben: The feeling is impossible to describe. It's a dream come true, the best scenario that exists. That's what you dream of as a little boy. The last minute of the final in the Champions League, and you score a goal like that. It couldn't have been better.
UEFA.com: Is there still room for wingers in modern football?
Robben: There certainly is room for wingers. We show that at Bayern. We have been playing with wingers for years now – with a lot of speed on the flanks and a lot of surprises up front. In today's game it is no longer the case that you play static football in lines – instead you have freedom of movement and can continue to surprise an opponent that way.
UEFA.com: How important is this freedom for a team like Bayern?
Robben: It is important to have a lot of freedom up front, but you have to keep discipline in the team, you cannot have all the players randomly running around the field. Occasionally it's fine if you leave your position, as long as all the positions are quickly occupied again when you lose the ball, so that your defence do not get in trouble.
UEFA.com: Pace, too, is a crucial quality for successful teams …
Robben: Speed is very important, especially in my game and Franck Ribéry's game. If you're talking about wing positions, for us pace is the most important thing. Action at high speed, taking on opponents, that is a weapon. You can also play high up the pitch without the ball, because in our team we have players with a fantastic passing range. Speed is certainly important in today's football.
UEFA.com: You have a new coach in Guardiola. How will things be different at Bayern this season?
Robben: It is an honour to be working with another great coach and I am definitely looking forward to this season. I can make a step forward under this coach, I can learn from him. Every coach has his own ideas, his own views on how he wants the team to play. Guardiola will make some small adjustments and we want to put more pressure on forward players to win the ball as quickly as possible.