The world has been cruel to Arjen Robben over the past few years.
Just under 12 months ago, the former Chelsea winger could have been a hero for the German giants, but it was not to be. A penalty miss against eventual champions Borussia Dortmund all but ended Bayern's hopes of catching Die Borussen. He followed it up by doing the same in the extra time of the Champions League final which proved costly yet again as the Bavarians ended up losing the game in penalty shootouts.
Thereafter a poor EURO 2012 campaign that saw the Dutch, one of the favourites for the competition, go out as early as the group stages. Robben was booed by his own set of supporters.
He was clearly a shattered man.
Next season did not do him any favours, as he found himself out of the starting XI. With the signing of Javi Martinez, Jupp Heynckes pushed Toni Kroos into a more advanced role with Franck Ribery and Thomas supporting him from the wings. Struggling through injuries, Robben found it hard to break into the team who never seemed to have missed his services. Bayern were cruising in the league, cup and the Champions League.
He finally found his moment when he was given a start against Arsenal in the second leg, a tie where the Bavarians were already 3-1 up. A poor display saw the Bavarians just scrape through on away goals rule but Robben's performance was the one that caught the media's attention. Criticised for his selfish play and lack of passing, it certainly looked like Robben's career at Bayern was almost done.
With the announcement of Pep Guardiola as the new manager, there was a speculation that the former Real Madrid man would be on his wa out. A man whose philosophy is based on passing, Robben never really looked like the kind of player Guardiola would prefer and with the signing of Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund, the speculation seemed to be turning into a reality.
However, Robben's dismal season looked to have taken a U-turn. With the injury to Toni Kroos in the Champions League tie against Juventus. Robben came in and was highly influential from the wings as the Bavarians eased past the Italian giants with a 2-0 win.
Since Kroos's injury, Robben seems to have settled in rather comfortably with 4 goals and 3 assists in his last 6 games.
|"Without being arrogant, I think I add something to Bayern"|
It would be fair to state that the player in question has put in consistent displays for the side and doesn't look like old self. His performances highlighted that he still has a lot to offer to his side. His 2 goals over the 2 legs against Barcelona reminded us of how good the Dutch winger is. It was a vintage Arjen Robben performance as he cuts back from the wings to his left foot and slotted the ball easily past Victor Valdes.
You do get to see more commitment from him as he regularly tracks back to win the ball and is a far cry from the days where he would wait in the opponent's half for his team-mate to pass the ball to him.
Robben's decline over the last year has certainly helped him grow as a player. He has started to fit into Heynckes' plans and his performances have certainly benefited the team as they look to complete a treble.
|"There are good and bad experiences in football. Yes, I missed a penalty last season (in the final) but so what? These things happen"|
After a World Cup and 2 Champions League finals respectively Arjen Robben knows how it feels losing on the grandest stage of them all and as the flying Dutchman returns to Wembley once again, the same stadium where he lifted the FA Cup with Chelsea in 2007. Robben will look to bury the ghost of the past and finally claim the coveted European trophy.
It might be hard to judge what the next season holds for the winger with a new manager but a match winning performance at the Wembley can really restore his reputation.
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