Posts Tagged ‘Arjen Robben’

The Champions League climax no one saw coming is final-ly (sorry!) upon us.

This was supposed to be the ultimate El Clasico; the grandest game on the grandest stage.

Not one, but two teams decided to spoil the party. And it could be even better for it.

Bayern’s role in the final was always set to be hosts. However, while it had long been known the game would be played at their home, no one expected them to be in.

Chelsea, meanwhile, thwarted their modern rivals Barcelona. They came through far from unscathed, but came through nonetheless.

Both sides have had casualties, mostly because of suspension. David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luis Gustavo miss out for Bayern. Chelsea’s losses were even greater: Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and, of course, John Terry are all forced to sit this one out.

The defence of both teams is where the suspensions have stung the most, and could well have the greatest impact on the game. The loss of Badstuber and Alaba means the left half of Bayern’s back four is missing.

Philipp Lahm will switch to left back, where he is equally as excellent, but the incoming Rafinha at right back and Daniel van Buyten at centre half are less so, and the likes of Juan Mata and Didier Drogba will more than fancy their chances against them.

It’s the same story for Chelsea, who will likely see a centre back pairing of David Luiz and Gary Cahill, and are set to be in for a tough night against the freescoring Mario Gomez. Similarly, Franck Ribery will be licking his lips at the thought of running at Jose Bosingwa.

In midfield, meanwhile, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien will need to turn the clock back and play like their old selves against a midfield duo of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos. The former is rightly regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the world, and Kroos – who has had a stellar season – will surely be in time.

It’s likely to be a fairly tight affair, and Chelsea will need to be at their Barcelona-beating best to come away with their win. In my opinion, especially given the fact they’re virtually the away side, that will be a bridge too far.

Key Man: Toni Kroos. Talk will be of Gomez, ‘Robbery’, Mata, Drogba and so on. But it’s the young midfielder who is capable of pulling all the strings.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea

Who do you think will win? Make a prediction in the comments section below…

Arjen Robben returns to the Bernabeu tonight, looking to knock his former club out of the Champions League.

He will have every right to feel aggrieved at his departure from Real Madrid; after all, he played a huge role in winning them the league in his first season.

He joined Los Merengues from Chelsea for a fee mooted to be around £24m in 2007, and his impact, while not immediate, certainly cannot be underestimated.

He scored five goals that season, but all of them came in the last four months of the campaign.

Corey Fiske, of Real Madrid Football Blog, said: “The fact that he almost single handedly brought Real Madrid to a league title after an awful start to the campaign…speaks volumes of his talent.”

Madrid narrowly missed out on a league title in his second season, one that would prove to be his last. That was despite another string of fine performances individually, which saw him score eight goals in 37 games.

The second coming of Florentino Perez, and with him Los Galacticos II, meant that Robben, in his view, forced out. By his own admission, he “didn’t want to go” but “the club wanted to sell me.”

He has a remarkable habit of winning the league title in his first season, having done so at PSV and Chelsea as well as Madrid, and a move to Bayern Munich saw that trend continue.

He scored 16 league goals that season, 23 overall, to help propel Bayern not only to the league title but also the Champions League final – albeit one they lost.

His second season was partially derailed by injury, and it was clear to see as Bayern lost their grip on the league to Borussia Dortmund, and were knocked out of the Champions League – by Inter, the same team who’d beaten them in the previous final – in the last 16.

This season, he has been instrumental in the progress to the Champions League semi final, and his importance has become plain to see.

Edson Karimi, of Red Robbery, said: “Is Robben better now? The stats say yes; 0.6 goals per match for Bayern as opposed to 0.2 for Madrid.

“He certainly is more important for Munich and any hope for a FCB win can only come true if Robben plays at his best.”

Fiske, however, has a slightly different view. He said: “[Robben] is a great player, but maybe he should have been more, on level with a Messi or Ronaldo, but because of his physical frailty, and I dare say his mental frailty, he will never be one of the best. His selfish play can affect a team, and its no question he can have an adverse affect on games.

“He has done well at Bayen too, but would anyone say he is an important player of the club, or merely an excellent player that is on the squad? That’s how I viewed his time at Real.”

Tonight, the stage is set for Robben to prove Madrid wrong. Only time will tell if he’s up to the challenge. Whether he is or not could well decide who wins.

Below is a reminder of what Robben is capable of in the Champions League: