Time is running out for Arjen Robben. Given all the domestic honours in the 28 year old Dutchman’s trophy cabinet, Robben has failed to make things count when it comes to an international tournament or even the Champions League.
Holland, having lost two of their opening EURO 2012 group stage games against Denmark and Germany, now need a 2-0 win over a resilient Portugal side while hoping Germany don’t drop any points against the Danes to qualify. The quarterfinals are still possible, bleak though the chances may be. But for a team who were dubbed pre-tournament contenders, their performances, especially Robben’s, have been unacceptable and the sight of him moodily heading towards the bench after his substitution during the 2-1 loss to Germany, with the Dutch fans not impressed, you just wonder – is this another tournament where Robben has failed yet again?
If Holland were to go out in the group stages, it would be another addition to Robben’s many disappointments – most notably – the 2010 World Cup final (where he missed a one-on-one with Iker Casillas) as well as the Champions League finals of 2010 and 2012 where he just didn’t show up and missed a crucial penalty in extra time, respectively.
Of course, all the EURO 2012 blame so far can’t be put on the Bayern Munich man, but if Robben ‘had been less selfish’, maybe Holland would have grabbed a few more goals.
So far in his two games at EURO 2012, Robben has attempted 10 shots – how many of them were on target? 2. He has also put in 6 crosses – how many of them have reached the intended target? 2. Lastly, he has attempted 10 take-ons – how many of them were successful? 2.
Whether Robben has an obsession with the number two or not, is another story but what annoys fans most is the fact that Robben (majority of the time) ignores better available options, in order to attempt the (usually off-target) spectacular. Aside from not toning down his selfishness, what’s even more frustrating is the talent Robben possesses – he’s one of the best in his current generation, and yet he’s not delivering for both club and country when it matters most.
“I fear for Robben’s state of mind, where things are decided in the subconscious…” – 1990 World Cup winner, Thomas Berthold on Robben’s disappointing 2011-2012 season and the effect it’s having in EURO 2012.
While Robben has flopped against Germany and Denmark, it’s still unthinkable to drop him in the crucial game against Portugal in favour of someone like Dirk Kuyt – the latter may be a work horse but the former has the cutting edge and ability to win a game at any possible time (though inconsistently.)
With a supposed rift within the Dutch camp where egos have clashed, affecting team harmony, things could get very ugly as the campaign is shaping up to be a repeat of France’s EURO 2008 campaign – bottom of the group, two years after reaching the World Cup final. This is certainly not Robben’s last international tournament, but with the expected rise of the likes of Ibrahim Afellay and Luciano Narsingh in the future, Robben must prove to the Dutch that he’s still a key figure within the team. The game against Portugal is one of the most important games of Robben’s career. With a few goals as well as an increase in confidence, Robben just may win his fans back and help Holland to an unlikely EURO victory.