Robben, Ribery set for bench in Bayern farewell

Picture taken on May 12, 2012 shows Bayern Munich's French midfielder Franck Ribery (R) congratulating Bayern Munich's Dutch midfielder Arjen Robben after he scored during the German cup "DFB Pokal" final football match Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. (AFP / ODD ANDERSEN )
Updated 16 May 2019

Robben, Ribery set for bench in Bayern farewell

  • Coach Kovac says pragmatism may come before sentimentality
  • Bayern hopes to wrap up a league and cup double in the next two weeks

BERLIN: Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac has hinted that departing veterans Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery will not be in the starting 11 for their final Bundesliga appearance against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Bayern need to avoid defeat against Frankfurt if they are to secure a seventh successive Bundesliga title, and Kovac suggested on Thursday that pragmatism may come before sentimentality when it comes to Robben and Ribery.
“As a coach you always have to be a coach on the one hand and a human being on the other, and they are not always compatible,” said Kovac.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Robben had voiced his hope of making one final start for Bayern at the Allianz Arena, and joked that he would score two goals if he played 90 minutes.
“Of course Arjen wants to play,” said Kovac.
The Bayern coach said he had already spoken to both Robben and Ribery about their roles on Saturday, but refused to confirm whether they would be in the starting lineup.
“I am going to leave you in the dark on that one,” he told reporters.
Kovac confirmed that James Rodriguez would be unavailable against Frankfurt, and said Thiago and Joshua Kimmich hoped to return to full fitness in time to play.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who has been out with a calf injury since April, is also expected to miss out.
Bayern hope to wrap up a league and cup double in the next two weeks, but their success has not stopped questions about Kovac’s future.
Amid speculation he may be fighting for his job, the Bayern coach made an emotional plea for more empathy in football on Thursday.
“I have learned how difficult it is to stay a normal person,” he said of his first season at Bayern. “We have to learn to have more empathy.”
“If I slap you, then the pain will fade after a while, but it will be worse for the soul,” he told reporters.
“We have to see the person in front of us and not just pile in all the time.”


Messi wins third straight Golden Shoe as top league-goal scorer

Updated 16 October 2019

Messi wins third straight Golden Shoe as top league-goal scorer

  • Messi won the trophy for a third straight year

BARCELONA: Barcelona captain Leo Messi received his sixth Golden Shoe as the top scorer in the European leagues on Wednesday.

Messi won the trophy for a third straight year after scoring 36 goals, three more than his closest challenger, Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi’s sons Thiago and Mateo, presented their father with the trophy supervised by his wife, Antonella Rocuzzo and watched by teammates, including Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba.

Messi dedicated the award “to my family, to my colleagues who are here. There are Luis and Jordi, who are two of the men to blame for this award.”

“Without my team, I could not even have won the award once.”

Messi now has two more Golden Shoes than his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo. Luis Suarez is one of nine players on two. The award was created in 1967 when it was won by Eusebio.