'Dutch Messi' Robben ready for Argentina
PHOTOS: AFP, ACTION IMAGES
Former Holland coach Bert van Marwijk is betting on Arjen Robben to outshine Lionel Messi as the Dutch prepare to take on Argentina for a place in the World Cup final tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The diving controversies which have shrouded Robben's campaign in Brazil cannot mask the fact that the Bayern Munich star has been Holland's most consistently effective attacker.
And that leaves van Marwijk confident that the Dutch are holding the trump card heading into the battle with Messi and Argentina in Sao Paulo.
"Argentina have got Messi, we've got Robben. And, quite frankly, I think the better player is Arjen," said van Marwijk, Holland's coach at the last World Cup in South Africa four years ago.
"When I see how Robben is playing in this tournament, I have to admit I'm a little bit jealous. There's a big difference to 2010," van Marwijk said.
"Four years ago, Arjen was injured just before the start of the tournament in a friendly against Hungary.
"He was carrying the injury for the whole tournament and was never really 100 per cent. But, this year, he's been unstoppable."
Van Marwijk believes a fully fit and firing Robben might just have made the difference between winning and losing the 2010 final against Spain.
Robben remains haunted by his failure to convert a glorious chance in the final, when he was denied by Iker Casillas after being put clean through on the Spanish goal in normal time.
"It is part of sport, just a moment, a snapshot," said Robben.
"But it will be part of me and part of my career for all of my life."
CUP A REALITY
But with Robben in his current form, many believe that the Dutch can dream of winning the World Cup after three previous defeats in the final.
Former international and current coach of PSV Eindhoven Philipp Cocu says that the 30-year-old is "in the form of his life".
"With him in the team, there is no reason to fear Argentina. We certainly have as much quality as the South Americans," Cocu said.
"When I see the way Arjen was sprinting in the final minutes against Costa Rica... it's incredible."
The veteran is also valued for his leadership on and off the pitch.
"When we had the drinks break in the second half against Mexico, it was Arjen who took responsibility to get everyone going, to rally morale," Hollland coach Louis van Gaal revealed. - AFP.
I can't see this game being anything other than a shoot-out between Arjen Robben and Lionel Messi. The rest are supporting actors, really... both Holland and Argentina have great centre forwards in Higuain and van Persie. But the real match winners are Messi and Robben.
- Paul Scholes on the semi-final tie between Holland and Argentina