Bayern Munich's Franck
Ribery is not sure what kind of welcome awaits him when he
returns to former club Marseille for the first time on Wednesday
for the Champions League quarter-final.
The French winger was a firm favourite at Marseille before
leaving for Bayern in 2007 after just two years at the club.
His part in France's dismal 2010 World Cup campaign and a
subsequent international ban meant he fell from grace but a
small crowd still cheered him on arrival in France on Tuesday.
"The people here are fond of football. I love football, I do my
best, I'm always at full gear," Ribery told a news conference
when asked about his two-year stay in southern France.
"When I had the ball, the people were expecting something to
happen. It helped me to be more confident."
Most Marseille fans adored Ribery for his incredible
footwork and remember fondly the time he drove a tractor on the
pitch during his farewell tour. However, some remember him
wanting to leave after only one season.
"I don't know what to expect as of tomorrow. I am a Bayern
player now. I don't think the people will support me and shout
'Ribery! Ribery' for 90 minutes," he said.
Ribery is having his best season since he joined Bayern and
will be vital if the Germans are to reach the Champions League
final in their Allianz Arena on May 19.
He set up three of Mario Gomez's four goals when Bayern
destroyed Basel 7-0 in their Champions League last 16 return and
Marseille's players are particularly aware of the threat.
"I played with him for a year. He showed how gifted he was.
He really challenges defences, Marseille forward Mathieu
"But we should not focus on him. There will be other players
to look after, he added, citing Arjen Robben.
Marseille have lost seven of their last eight games and are
underdogs for the tie but Ribery knows that the atmosphere will
be electric for the first leg.
"It will be difficult. Marseille are willing to produce a
strong showing, to please the crowd. They will be big hearted,
very aggressive," Ribery said.
"The real fans, the ones who love football, you can only find
them here in Marseille."
Bayern manager Jupp Henyckes is also wary of the effect the
crowd can have on inspiring Marseille.
"They play with a lot of emotion, with much passion,"
Heynckes said when asked about the main danger for his side.
He said he was not worried about Ribery's return.
"I did not notice any change in his behaviour. When the draw
took place, he was willing to face Marseille," Heynckes said.
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