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One Less Thing on Franck Ribéry's Mind; Winger, Benzema Acquitted of Rape Charges

With fitness problems and lingering vexations, it is nice for the French captain to have something off his plate

Lars Baron

Franck Ribéry did not have the traditional FC Bayern München winter break experience. He got one of the more complex vacation packages instead. His R&R involved fitness problems, an uninspiring award ceremony, and a statutory rape trial that has been hanging over his head since July 2010.

Fortunately, the French courts relieved him of one of his nuisance when the Judge assigned to his and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema's case acquitted both of charges of soliciting an under-aged prostitute named Zahia Dehar. Neither Ribéry nor Benzema nor Dehar were at the trial, but the Judge did not find significant evidence to convict the two French national team stars, the same outcome prosecutors were seeking earlier this month.

He may still have a bad taste in his mouth with how the events at the FIFA Ballon d'Or ceremony unfolded, but at least one worry can be lifted off his shoulders. His next hope is returning to the pitch on Sunday against Eintracht Frankfurt.

"Today I trained very well. I hope that on Sunday I can play against Frankfurt," Ribéry told

Ribéry has 16 goals and 11 assists for club and country thus far in the 2013/14 season, while completing more dribbles per match than anyone in Europe. The left wing is arguably not the same without him, so the Frenchman will once again be crucial to any repeat campaign FC Bayern is aspiring to achieve.

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