Argentina need to be wary of Arjen Robben
Just as there is two sides to every coin, there is two sides to Netherlands' Arjen Robben. On one side he is an artist on the field, his game is poetry in motion; perfect passes, beautiful runs and he is a crowd favourite. On the other side, like his words echoed, he is ugly on the field; selfish on the ball, taking dives to win penalties, and is public enemy number one. When Netherlands meet Argentina, both sides of the Bayern Munich winner may feature, but no matter what he will be key when Louis Van Gaal's side look to make a consecutive World Cup final.
Whether it has been through his beautiful or ugly side, Arjen Robben has been a crucial cog in Van Gaal's Netherlands machine. Robben has scored three goals and grabbed a single assist in his five starts for the Oranje, and also has the highest average of dribbles per match for the Dutch, with five per game.
When Robben is on the ball at the edge of an opposing team's box, the defenders are cautious for two reasons; the Dutchman can just as easily teleport past them or draw a clever penalty within a second. Throughout the World Cup, he has harassed defenders, and showcased this ability when he broke Mexico's heart with the late penalty he earned after being taken down by Rafael Marquez. He cleverly drew the foul at the byline after dancing past multiple challenges,becoming a national hero and villain at the same time to Netherlands and Mexico respectively.
A danger presented to opposing managers when they see Robben on the opposing team sheet is that when he is on the ball, he drags defenders out of position effortlessly. He skips past defenders with ease like a gazelle and accelerates like a cheetah, and for this multiple defenders swarm on him. As a result his teammates then have the opportunity to find space in behind the opposition and take up dangerous positions in the box. Teammates such as Wesley Sneijder have publicly spoken of their appreciation for this quality, "He constantly occupies two or three opponents, creating space for others. Against Costa Rica [in the quarter-final] he did that a number of times and that helped us.”
Robben's left foot is one of the most feared in World Football. When he dribbles on the right wing, his main objective besides drawing fouls is to cut back onto his favoured left foot and pull the trigger. He is Holland's top scorer in Brazil through the moments of magic he creates with the wand that is his left foot
When Argentina face Robben, Alejandro Sabella will need to be smart as to how his side deals with the threat that Robben presents. Marcos Rojo, Argentina's first choice left back, will have a huge task ahead of him. He will need to be careful when Robben is around him as he can't allow the winger to get past him or draw a reckless challenge that Robben turns into a penalty. His best option is to jockey Robben, and try and force him onto his weaker right foot. If he can do that, he may neutralise the Netherlands' biggest threat, but given Robben's form, that task is easier said than done and will require full focus for 90 minutes, otherwise he and Argentina will get punished.
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