Player to watch: Arjen Robben

A season without injuries may never happen in the career of Arjen Robben, yet despite all the setbacks he remains the most lethal threat in the Dutch team.


When he is fit, and in form, Robben is feared by almost every team in Europe, but the winger's complete package also contains his inconsistency, caused by injuries, with a special vulnerability to muscle strains.

That is why Robben played only three seasons at Chelsea and two at Real Madrid. Since joining Bayern Munich in 2009, however, his dynamic contribution to a team has been revalued even if it is accepted that he is unlikely to complete a full season.

In 2010, a week before the start of the World Cup, Robben sustained a hamstring injury which would normally have ruled him out of the tournament.

But Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk retained faith in Robben and his medical staff and he was kept behind for a week's special treatment, joining the squad later in South Africa.

He made his first appearance in the third group match, a dead rubber against Cameroon, and then scored in the last 16 meeting with Slovakia and the semi-final against Uruguay.

He was the only Dutch player to find two scoring opportunities in the final against Spain, but was unable to produce a goal or help prevent a rugged Dutch team from losing a third World Cup final.

Since then, the unpredictable Robben has played only a handful of times internationally - notably against Brazil in June 2011 and at Wembley against an injury-hit England in February this year.

In the England match Robben opened the scoring after an impressive 60-metre run from his own half and snatched victory with a precise curled shot in added time.

In five seasons in London and Madrid, Robben played 117 league matches and scored 26 goals. In Munich, in the first two seasons under compatriot coach Louis van Gaal, Robben has scored 39 goals in 60 league matches.

He also helped Bayern into a second Champions League final in three seasons but missed a penalty in extra-time against his former club, Chelsea.

Those statistics have given the technical and medical staffs of both the Dutch team and Bayern Munich good reason to rack their brains - keeping Robben fit, and in form, can be the difference between a good team and a successful team.

This Dutch side is recognised already as a good one and in the last eight years, since the Euro 2004 finals, Robben has played in 44 matches, finishing a loser only three times.

Van Marwijk has to work out a plan to find the right balance of training and rest for Robben to give him a chance to be at his best and bid for more honours.

Remarkably, at 28, he has already won five championship titles in the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany. Now he wants to win something with the national team.

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