Bayern Munich Winger Franck Ribery's Top 6 France Moments
Franck Ribery will once again enter a FIFA World Cup as one of France’s key players, yet the Bayern Munich man’s inability to replicate his club form on the international stage remains one of Les Bleus' biggest problems.
The 31-year-old is the most capped player in Didier Deschamps’ 23-man squad for this summer’s tournament—with 81 appearances to his name—yet in that time he has only scored once at an international tournament for the French.
Brazil will be Ribery’s third World Cup and he has also featured in two European Championships, but the former Olympique de Marseille star has only fleetingly displayed his impressive ability—often seen at club level—in French bleu.
South America will be his last chance to thoroughly impress on the world stage after he revealed recently to RTL Radio (h/t FIFA.com) that this will be his last World Cup. For now, there is still a feeling that Ribery is living off the excitement that he generated in his early performances in Germany back in 2006.
With that early international form in mind, here are Ribery’s six greatest moments with Les Bleus.
6. 2012 UEFA European Championship Warm-Up Matches
There was a brief period prior to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine where it looked like everything might fall into place for Ribery and France. The Bayern man and Karim Benzema—another oft-maligned star at international level—were clicking and it looked as if Laurent Blanc’s side were capable of winning the championship.
Ribery bagged goals in the 3-2 win over Iceland, the 2-0 triumph against Serbia and the 4-0 mauling of Estonia. His performances in those three ultimately meaningless games are considered some of his best with Les Bleus.
It is evidence that Ribery can perform with France when he wants to.
5. 2008 European Championship Qualifier: Goal vs. Ukraine
One year after the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Ribery netted what is considered to be one of his best goals for France in a European Championship qualifier at Stade de France against Ukraine. Les Bleus won 2-0 and eventually finished second in Group B, three points behind Italy.
It was at this time when Ribery was expected to step up for the French to replace Zinedine Zidane, who had retired following defeat to the Italians in the World Cup one year before.
Latching onto a lofted through ball from Claude Makelele, Ribery took the ball around Ukraine goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy and slotted into the empty net. It is something familiar to Bayern Munich fans and was supposed to herald the start of the then France No. 22 becoming a key protagonist for the team.
Instead, what followed was 18 months without a goal until he scored a penalty in a 1-0 friendly win over England at Stade de France in March 2008.
4. 2014 World Cup Qualifier: Goal vs. Finland
More recently for France, Ribery showed another glimpse of his Bayern Munich form with Les Bleus when they hosted Finland in their last Group I match last October. Needing a win to be sure that they would grab a play-off berth, the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or nominee produced a sensational opening goal.
Just nine minutes into the game at Stade de France, Ribery picked up the ball on the left side of the Finnish area and kept the ball away from three defenders before firing a venomous strike in off the crossbar on the right.
It ranks as arguably his best goal for France in his entire eight-year international stint.
3. 2006 World Cup: Assist for Vieira Goal vs. Togo
Some of Ribery’s best performances for France came during his maiden international tournament—the 2006 World Cup in Germany—and although it did not start particularly well, he had a hand in two of their most crucial matches.
The first was Les Bleus’ final Group G clash with Togo.
Having drawn against both Switzerland and South Korea, Raymond Domenech’s side needed a win in order to guarantee that they progressed from the group. After 55 minutes in Cologne it was goalless.
Then, after picking the ball up outside the area, Ribery advanced and danced past one man before taking another out of the game. From there, he squared the ball to Patrick Vieira who rifled it in to make it 1-0. Henry made it 2-0 six minutes later and the French advanced to the last 16.
2. 2014 World Cup Qualifier: Double vs. Belarus
Down a goal at half-time in Gomel last September, France needed a big second half performance from Ribery in order to beat Belarus and give themselves a fighting chance of securing a play-off spot for a chance to earn their place in Brazil this summer.
Deschamps got the reaction he was looking for.
Two minutes into the second half, Ribery won a penalty and showed great maturity to step up and score it to level the game. Ten minutes after that, the hosts re-established their one-goal lead and it was left to the Bayern man to once again restore parity.
Ribery netted his second equaliser seven minutes after Belarus had gone back in front, but this time it stuck. Samir Nasri and Paul Pogba ensured that it finished 4-2 to Les Bleus.
That showing in Gomel currently ranks as one of the most mature performances Ribery has ever put in for his country. Even if the goals were not great, they are some of his most important for France.
1. 2006 World Cup: Goal vs. Spain
No Ribery moments for France have created as much excitement as his equalising goal against Spain in the last 16 of the 2006 World Cup, though.
Buoyed by their 2-0 win over Togo—their first success of the campaign—Ribery netted an important maiden goal with Les Bleus to set them on their way to an eventual 3-1 win and a quarter-final meeting with Brazil.
Playing a neat one-two with Vieira—who was returning the favour after the assist for his goal against Togo—Ribery’s impressive burst of speed took him clear of two Spanish defenders and immediately one-on-one with goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Showing great composure, the then 23-year-old took the ball around the Real Madrid man before slotting in to send the Hanover crowd wild.
To this day, Ribery has not enjoyed a better moment with Les Bleus. That was only his eighth appearance for France.