Arjen Robben Is Healthy Now, Which Should Make Soccer Fans Very Happy
Two years ago, the Netherlands were coming off a summer that saw them reach the World Cup semifinals but lose to Argentina in penalty kicks. The main cog in their success was 30-year-old Arjen Robben, who was arguably the player of the tournament — that’s an important admission coming from an Argentine like myself.
Robben was untouchable all tournament with defenders grasping at air as he waltzed by them constantly. He racked up three goals and an assist and nearly got the Dutch to their second straight World Cup final on his back.
Robben continued his torrid form in the Bundesliga during Pep Guardiola’s second year as Bayern Munich manager. Robben scored 17 goals and dished out seven assists while raising the Bundesliga trophy at the end of the season. But a year removed from possibly the best summer, fall and spring of his career, Robben’s wheels began to come off.
He only saw action in 23 total games, with 15 of those in the Bundesliga. He only played in three Champions League games and was forced to spectate for most of Bayern’s semifinal run. His body was ravaged by muscular injuries that caused him to miss weeks and months at a time. When he would finally recover from one muscle injury, another would pop up.
It was a frustrating year for Robben, and he couldn’t find any consistent form even when he did play. He managed only four goals and one assist in his 14 Bundesliga appearances and couldn’t contribute to his team’s cup runs, as he was sidelined from March to June of 2016.
His injuries lingered into the start of this year, with a pulled hamstring sidelining him for two months just as soon as he had recovered from adductor problems. Given his time off the pitch and his mounting age, many were beginning to forget about the Dutch maestro who was on top of the footballing world just two years prior.
Sometimes, though, the soccer gods allow top players to return to form and bless fans with the ability to watch them again. Robben returned on September 21, coming on as a substitute against Hertha Berlin and tallying a goal in just a short period of time. It wasn’t until October 19 that Robben was able to start a game and play all 90 minutes.
Bayern Munich completed a whopping 33 passes in the lead up to this beautiful team goal. https://t.co/0wnPBgSLYQ— AtTheBuzzer (@TheBuzzerOnFOX) October 21, 2016
In that Champions League game against PSV, Robben notched a goal and ripped four shots on target. He had also scored in a Bundesliga match just four days prior when he played for 75 minutes. On Saturday, Robben played another full match, and, while he didn’t get on the scoresheet, he was active and up to his old tricks of using his pace and left foot to create havoc.
I began to ramp up my soccer watching in the mid-2000s. When Euro 2008 was on, a Netherlands match came across my TV. They were spotlighting a guy named Arjen Robben, who the commentators claimed was 24 years old. I thought they were making a mistake, considering he barely had any hair and I was not used to bald 20-somethings. As I watched the match, I kept my eye on him. His speed and his technical ability was apparent.
— FC Bayern US (@FCBayernUS) October 19, 2016
Every year since then, he has improved. He’s one of the most pleasurable soccer players to watch. While he might not pass as much as some want him to, his ability to cut inside no matter his defender’s positioning and pick out a cross or curl a shot into the upper 90 is poetry in motion.
He’s vital to the success of both Bayern Munich and the Netherlands, as is apparent from Netherlands missing out on Euro 2016 while Robben missed some important qualifying games.
His club and country will be ecstatic to have him back and healthy, as should all fans of soccer.