Today we witnessed the complete performance from one of the world’s finest footballers Arjen Robben in a 5-1 Netherlands win over reining World Champion Spain. Work rate and desire were just two of the key components of an eye-catching performance from the Netherlands outstanding number eleven. Initially beginning by playing off the equally majestic RVP, Robben roamed around menacingly leaving the Spanish back four with something to ponder from the outset of a dramatic encounter. Continuing on from his wonderful season with Bayern, Robben utilized his speed and guile to pressurize Pique and Ramos into errors in the opening twenty minutes.
However, the concession of a questionable penalty was perhaps the critical moment of this encounter. With the Spaniards dominating possession and squandering a wonderful opportunity to double their advantage through David Silva, Robben availed of the drop in intensity of the Spanish and began popping up on both flanks, but crucially frequenting the penalty area more regularly. His movement after RVP’s sumptuous equalizer provided the prelude to what would become a procession in a momentous second half performance.
In assessing the performance of Robben, it is worth mentioning the magnificent contribution of Daley Blind or more precisely his pinpoint delivery from his radar like left foot. Robben’s first goal on 53 minutes came from another mesmeric ball from Blind, yet the finish was simply stunning. His composure in controlling and then placing the ball beyond the hapless Casillas was wonderful. This moment was particularly poignant for Robben and one sensed the pain of 2010 and that miss in the final was being exercised in that moment.
From this point on, Holland and Robben in particular usurped their European rivals and began working spaces superbly. Roaming from wing to wing, Robben began terrorizing the Spanish defenders and created the space for RVP’s strike against the crossbar. Once the third goal went in Spanish heads dropped and Robben came into his own. Utilizing clever positional play and strategic thinking, Robben began exploiting the cumbersome movement of Pique and Ramos, but also Busquets. As the Spanish heads fell further into desolation, the Dutch filled with attacking intent sought to utilise the guile of Robben on every opportunity. Creating chances for Sneijder and RVP, Robben began showing a side to his game that has continuously evolved since his move to Bayern.
The fifth goal was a thing of beauty and illustrated why Robben deserves to be mentioned in any conversation regarding the world’s finest footballers. Showing exquisite pace to defy the best efforts of Ramos, Robben illustrated why he is one of the world’s finest by firstly drawing the hapless Casillas to his knees and then having the composure to place the ball deftly into the Spanish net. As a fan of football, I must confess it was one of the finest goals I have witnessed in recent times and illustrated everything that is great about football and Arjen Robben.
In assessing the performance of Holland, one must laud the collective element of the performance, but acknowledge the genius of their number eleven. Footballers are branded with different labels and Robben in particular has had to endure unwarranted criticisms over the years, however his performance tonight emphasized his value to Holland and the game in general. How many footballers would impact a game to the extend Robben did earlier? His grace and guile for his two goals was fantastic, but what struck me about his performance was his work rate for the team, any player can have their moments, but to be considered great you have to be able to influence the biggest games on the biggest stage. Robben pulverized a previously impregnable Spanish defense in a performance that has undoubtedly set the standard for this year’s tournament. So much for the much talked about competitive rematch of the 2010 final. Over to you Cristiano!