Franck Ribery's run of bad news continued yesterday when the Bayern Munich winger learnt that he will miss the Champions League final next month after Uefa decided to impose a three-game suspension on him for his sending off in the first leg of the semi-final against Lyons.
Ribéry, who aside from the red card he picked up at the Allianz Arena last week has also been linked with a prostitution scandal centred on a nightclub on the Champs Elysées in Paris, had sat out Bayern's 3-0 win in the second leg on Tuesday but was expected to be available for the final at the Bernabeu Stadium on 22 May. However, Uefa decided that his high tackle on Lyons' Lisandro Lopez warranted a three-match ban, meaning Ribéry will miss the German side's first appearance in the final in nine years.
Bayern have already lodged an appeal. "Uefa informed us of the decision, arguing that Franck Ribéry was guilty [of serious foul play]. We do not understand this decision in any way and consider it absolutely wrong," read a club statement. "Franck Ribéry can certainly not be accused of violating his opponent intentionally. The player Lisandro Lopez was able to continue the game. Bayern and Franck Ribéry will not accept the decision, but appeal and exhaust all possibilities."
Ribéry's ban took some of the gloss off Bayern's impressive display in brushing Lyons aside at the Stade Gerland to reach their eighth European Cup final. Ivica Olic scored a hat-trick as they cruised to a 4-0 aggregate win and the nature of their progress through the knockout rounds of the competition is in stark contrast to the way Louis van Gaal's side struggled in the group stage in the autumn.
"The football we've witnessed was close to perfection," Bayern president Uli Hoeness said on Tuesday. "It's a long, long time since I've seen that from a Bayern team in an important match. We've found the right path to pursue, and it's leading us rapidly upwards."
Van Gaal, who guided a precociously talented Ajax side to the European Cup in 1995, enjoyed domestic success with Barcelona but saw his reputation damaged when as Netherlands coach they failed to reach the World Cup finals eight years ago, is also enjoying an unexpected upturn. "We have played great in the last few games. Bayern can beat any team, that's why we are here," he said. "We've turned in a magnificent display. Making the final is terrific."
In their first Champions League semi-final Lyons were an acute disappointment, their hopes of overturning a 1-0 deficit from the first-leg not helped by defender Cris's dismissal in the second half. Nevertheless, the French side's coach, Claude Puel, was still able to be full in his praise of Bayern. "We have to congratulate this team who were superior to us in quite a lot of areas, notably on a physical level," he said. "It's a team which is complete, impressive, who never slowed their tempo. For us it was very difficult. We would have needed the perfect match, that wasn't the case.
"There's a legitimate disappointment because it was a good adventure that has come to an end, but in our effort, we have nothing to reproach ourselves for. The players did some good things, they want to experience things like this again and that will happen via the league."
Bayern have hopes of clinching an unprecedented treble in Germany of European Cup, league and cup and with two Bundesliga games to go top the table on goal difference from Schalke. With Ribéry back in the side they face Bochum at home on Saturday, go to bottom-of-the-table Hertha Berlin a week later, play Werder Bremen in the cup final then prepare for Madrid and the Champions League showdown. Hoeness said: "The players have to get through four more games, and then we'll probably celebrate until the roof comes off."
*Bayern Munich are preparing for their eighth European Cup final next month, having won four of the previous seven.
After lifting the Cup in 1974 – beating Atletico Madrid 4-0 with two from Gerd Müller – Bayern made it three in a row with further successes in 1975 and 1976, overcoming Leeds 2-0 and St Etienne 1-0. They would then have to wait 25 years for their next trophy, beating Valencia on penalties in 2001.
Van Gaal's Dutch magic
Bayern manager Louis van Gaal has also enjoyed previous success in the competition, winning the trophy once with previous employers Ajax in 1995. The Dutchman, 58, won the trophy at his first attempt, beating Milan 1-0 in Vienna, with Patrick Kluivert scoring the winner five minutes from time.Reuse content