Van der Vaart: Robben will be back to his best at Euro 2012 after Champions League heartbreak

The midfielder admits his Dutch team-mate still has no idea how Bayern Munich lost to Chelsea but is confident he can sparkle for Netherlands in Poland and Ukraine
By Francisco Delgado

Rafael van der Vaart has stated he is "totally convinced" that international team-mate Arjen Robben will be back to his best for the Netherlands as they approach their first game of Euro 2012 against Denmark.

The Bayern Munich winger suffered a double dose of heartbreak this season, losing both the German Cup final and the Champions League final, during which he missed a penalty in extra-time.

Yet, Van der Vaart believes Robben will return to form over the next three weeks and become a key player for the Oranje.
"Robben was very hurt when he arrived to the Netherlands camp, but we are all cheering him up"

Speaking to, he said: “[Arjen] Robben was very hurt when he arrived to the Netherlands camp, but we are all cheering him up and he will be back to being the same player he always is.

“I have spoken to him and he still doesn't understand how the final got away from Bayern. They played better but when you get to penalties anything can happen. It's a big risk. The Germans should have sewn up victory before that.

“I am totally convinced that the blow for Robben in the final will not affect his play with the Netherlands at the Euros.”

The Tottenham playmaker admitted he had hoped Bayern Munich would beat Chelsea to ensure his club side would line-up in Europe's premier competition next season, adding: “Not playing in the Champions League with Spurs next season was a big blow.

“I wanted Bayern to win and I was very disappointed after the penalty shootout, but football has these things.”

On a personal level, Van der Vaart is unsure whether he will feature in Bert van Marwijk's starting line-up. The 29-year-old scored two goals in the last two Netherlands friendlies but both strikes came after he'd been summoned from the bench.

Johan Cruyff, a notable critic of Van Marwijk's chosen style, has lamented the inclusion of both Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong in holding midfield roles. However, Van der Vaart remained diplomatic when discussing his prospects.

“I always want to play and I don't like staying on the bench,” he said, “But I understand and accept that to be a starter today with a team like the Netherlands isn't at all easy.

“Here there are hardly any guaranteed starters or reserves and that's a nice problem to have for the coach.
"People talk about Spain as the big favourite, but it won't be easy for them at all"

“For me the aim is to be a starter in this Euro and that's why I am working so hard in our training sessions and friendlies ahead of the tournament.

“I don't know the coach's intentions in the official games, but he is insisting that nobody is guaranteed a place in the starting line-up. That's a good way of motivating us in our work."

A win over Slovakia followed by a thumping 6-0 defeat of Northern Ireland has boosted confidence as the Dutch aim to go one better than their 2010 World Cup final defeat to Spain.

Whereas that summer in South Africa, Wesley Sneijder carried the goalscoring burden, this time around Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie arrive after superb domestic campaigns – accruing 85 goals between them – and Van der Vaart hopes this form translates to the European Championships.

“Netherlands have a good team and we can aspire to be at the very top, we just need a little more luck in attack. We have to score goals and take our chances,” he added.

“We haven't had good luck in the finals of major tournaments. It happened in the World Cup final in 2010 with Iniesta's goal in extra time, but I hope it won't happen again in the Euros.

“Our group is so tough. To overcome the Germans, the Portuguese and the Danes, we will have to be in top form and not slip up at all.

“People talk about Spain as the big favourite, but it won't be easy for them at all.”

Netherlands kick-off their tournament against Denmark on Saturday evening.