Can Arjen Robben lead Bayern Munich to glory?
When Robben returns to action on January 15, it will mark his first appearance since the 2010 World Cup final, a 189-day absence.
it is perhaps ominous that the Dutch winger makes his first appearance of the season against Wolfsburg: a year ago, they bagged a brace in a 3-0 win against the then-defending champions. Robben went on to have one of the best spring terms in recent memory, earning 23 scorer’s points in 25 appearances, including decisive goals in each Champions League knockout round before the final. His return has forced even the most sceptical of critics to query whether Bayern do indeed have a chance at a treble.
The answer to that query is “probably not”, at least according to the player himself: “We must be realistic, and they also must show respect to our rivals,” they told the official Bayern website when asked of his team’s chances of catching Dortmund.
To be fair, Robben’s comments were not only for the sake of keeping the bar low; Bayern could win all 17 Bundesliga fixtures in the spring and still end behind the leaders. For three times, their fate is not in their own hands, and der BvB will must pay their rivals a immense favour in the event that they are to keep away from winning their first title since 2002.
The Champions League, on the other hand, remains entirely up for grabs. Bayern may have had their ups and downs last fall, but in the group stage, only actual Madrid earned more points. This spring, the vice-champions of Europe will receive a bonus in the return of arguably the most decisive player in the game.
It would be unfair to expect Robben to reproduce the heroics of last year, as they returns from over six months’ absence. Still, there remains reason to believe in the Bavarians’ chances of being crowned European champions for a fifth time.
With the Dutchman beginning on the right flank, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Mueller will return to their natural positions, a tactical advantage.
The central defensive pairing of Holger Badstuber and either Breno or Anatoliy Tymoshchuk can only be thought about an improvement on last year, and new signing Luiz Gustavo could solve the Bavarians’ problems on the left side of defence. Assuming the fitness of Franck Ribery and maintenance of Mario Gomez’s form, Bayern may prove an even greater attacking team than last year. and then there is the not-to-be-underestimated confidence that comes with last year’s experience: having reached the 2010 final, Louis van Gaal’s men are in better mental standing than they were 12 months ago.
In conclusion, Bayern require much over Robben in the event that they are to win either the Bundesliga or Champions League. Domestically, the holders must hope Dortmund offer the chance to catch up, and then make the best of their opportunities. In Europe, die Roten are on level footing with their opponents, but may require a bit of luck to hoist the Champions League trophy. In all competitions, Bayern can only succeed with a concerted hard work, and must wait and see as their talisman recovers fitness and form. on condition that the remainder of the team fires on all cylinders, Robben’s touch of class could prove decisive.
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