Arjen Robben has been one of the stand-out players of this World Cup however the Dutchman has faced a lot of scrutiny for his willingness to go down too easily.
Now he has hit back at his critics and insists he is lucky to still be fit after having received a kicking throughout the tournament.
The Netherlands forward has been in scintillating form in the five matches that he has played for his country so far and his input has been vital in ensuring that Louis van Gaal’s side have made it out of a tough group and advanced to the semi-finals, where they will face Argentina.
Robben has netted three times and claimed one assist, while also creating 15 chances for his teammates in the process. Despite this remarkable form the Bayern Munich winger has been under the spotlight for the wrong reasons ever since Holland defeated Mexico in the last-16.
The 30-year-old went down under a soft but clumsy challenge from Rafael Marquez in the 94th minute to earn his side and invaluable penalty that ended up sending them through to the next round.
Robben did actually admit to diving in his post-match interview for that game and said he deeply regretted his actions but that it had no impact on the outcome as the referee did not give the decision on that occasion.
The Mexico coach Miguel Herrera criticised him after the game, calling him a “cheat” and the Costa Rica coach also called on the referee’s to clamp down on his theatrics prior to their quarter-final meeting.
Ever since then Robben has been the driving narrative throughout the Dutch’s matches and it is expected to continue for as long as they remain in the competition. He was criticised for a few incidents during their thrilling penalty shoot-out win against Costa Rica on Saturday night even though it was clear to see that he was making a conscious effort to stay on his feet.
The continued jibes and remarks that he is a cheat are clearly getting on his nerves, as he told reporters: “In recent days there has been a lot of talk about diving and actually I’m tired of this b*******.
“I get kicked from all sides, but luckily I am still fit. I felt that I could make the difference, but didn’t get the ball enough.”
He has been fouled eight times during this World Cup but the nature of his game invites players to lunge in and try and nick the ball off of him, which is easier said than done as he often knocks it past them before they can get close to pinching it.
Robben has always been liable to make the most of a challenge, even during his days at Chelsea, but considering his injury-ridden past and the pace that he is travelling at when he does go down, can you blame him? Imbalance and possibly a fear of getting injured cause him to do this but it still is no excuse for him to be so theatrical about it.
Despite this his pace and direct running have been a feature of the Dutch’s tournament and has led to speculation that he could be on his way to Manchester United with their newly appointed manager Van Gaal, who shares a good relationship with Robben.
It is uncertain if Bayern would be willing to sell one of their most prized assets but if he wants the move then Pep Guardiola may be powerless to stop him.
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