Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery says he is grateful to the Bundesliga leaders for standing by him during his long absence due to injury.
Ribery missed almost a full calendar year of action with muscle and ankle problems but has won his place back in the Bayern side despite strong competition from Kingsley Coman and Douglas Costa.
Bayern – who are five points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga table – face Eintracht Frankfurt at home on Saturday and Ribery was in reflective mood ahead of the game.
“Bayern will always be a special club for me,” Ribery told Bundesliga.com. “Over the years, I have had many offers, but Bayern have rejected them and today I am very happy that a change for either side is out of the question.
“I remember that the club always stood by me, even in bad times or when I was injured. You do not find this everywhere.
“It is difficult to say what will happen in a few years, but this is what I have in my head: Bayern is a labour of love for me. I look forward to every game. I have a lot of fun. Bayern are like a family for me.”
Manuel Neuer is expected to shake off a stomach bug and the Bayern goalkeeper has the chance to collect his 150th top-flight clean sheet on Saturday, while Thomas Muller and Xabi Alonso are also close to personal milestones.
Alonso could make his 50th Bundesliga appearance and Muller is within two goals of reaching 150 strikes for Bayern, who have won nine of their last 10 home games against Eintracht.
The visitors, 17th in the Bundesliga table but only in the relegation places on goal difference, are coached by former Bayern players Niko and Robert Kovac, with elder brother Niko expecting his side to face a “very, very, very difficult task” against Bayern.
Robert Kovac told Bayern Magazin that the league leaders will not be distracted by their upcoming Champions League quarter-final against Benfica.
“No way! The Bayern players have a very professional attitude and when you play for this club success is everything,” he said.
“I won more trophies with FC Bayern than anywhere else. In this sense Munich was a very special part of my career.”
Joshua Kimmich is available for Bayern but Arjen Robben (abductor), Holger Badstuber (ankle) and Jerome Boateng (groin) are all out, while Eintracht will be without Alexander Meier (knee). Anderson Bamba and Johannes Flum are long-term absentees for the Kovac brothers’ side.
Key Opta facts:
– Bayern haven’t conceded against SGE for 667 minutes and are just three minutes short of a new Bundesliga record (Gladbach kept Bielefeld at bay for 669 minutes, 2003-2009).
– Bayern lead the home rankings in 2015-16; Eintracht have the worst away record (9 points).
– Robert Lewandowski set a new personal season best by netting his 25th goal of the Bundesliga season last time out.
– FCB have conceded just 13 goals this term – equalling the record they first set three seasons ago. Guardiola’s men have kept 17 clean sheets this season.