Ranking Arjen Robben's Top 10 Bayern Munich Moments
When Bayern Munich lifted the Bundesliga title for the 24th time on Tuesday night following a 3-1 defeat to Hertha Berlin in the capital city, no one was quite as happy as Arjen Robben.
The 30-year-old had just signed a new contract with the Bavarian club one week before, which will see him stay at the club until 2017 and when he reaches the prime age of 33, concluding what will be an eight-year tenure at Germany's biggest club. And a far cry from the endless speculation linking him away from Munich over the course of last summer.
For no player has tried harder, offered as much or essentially embodied what it means to play for Pep Guardiola's side this season quite like Robben. An endless supply of effort and skill and above all the desire to win.
With 18 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for his club this season, according to Transfermarkt, this title win was not just a desire to see how good Bayern were against the best in Germany, but how good Robben is as a player.
Here are his top 10 performances for Bayern Munich over the years.
10. Champions League First Knockout Round vs. Inter (2010/11)
The first game on our top 10 is none other than a match from a bygone era in which Bayern actually struggled against other teams in Europe.
If you can fathom that much, try then to imagine a side that had gone without the Dutch master for six months due to a torn muscle injury, only for him to be parachuted in to this most important of games.
Louis Van Gaal's side, one that didn't look all too dissimilar from the set of players who dominate the competition now, would eventually go on to lose this first-round tie—but not before Robben outplayed the Italian's in their own backyard, setting up the only goal of the game for Mario Gomez.
Many didn't know it then, but we'd just seen the first sparks of a light that was only going to grow brighter across the continent over the next few years.
9. Bundesliga vs. Hertha Berlin (2011/12)
Although this game may not have come against the mightiest of foes, Robben's performance against Hertha Berlin in March 2012 was nothing short of spectacular.
Although Bayern wouldn't go on to win the Bundesliga, as Borussia Dortmund were in the midst of their all-conquering cycle, it was left to the Dutch winger to bring joy back to the Bayern fans with 90 minutes of individual brilliance.
Not only did the forward score three outstanding goals—a hat-trick that began in the 12th minute and ended in the 69th—but he also found time to assist Toni Kroos for the fifth goal of the day. There were four goals that wouldn't have been without the talented winger.
8. Champions League Group Stages vs. Manchester City (2013/14)
In what came to be the first genuine test of Pep Guardiola's new reign at Bayern, the club's opening Champions League encounter with Manchester City in England offered what should have been a tricky away game in Europe.
Yet the newly crowned European champions showed the world that money can't simply buy success. That night, with a well-rounded display that saw Robben cap it off with a right-footed shot in the 59th minute, made it 3-0 to the Bavarian visitors.
Robben had left England as an injury-prone mess of a player, but he returned that night as a warrior desperate for blood. He ensured victory for Bayern and proved any doubters wrong along the way.
7. Bundesliga vs. Schalke (2013/14)
In one of the more recent displays on this list, Bayern's recent dismantling of third-placed Schalke by 5-1 stands as a perfect example of just how far ahead this team are from the rest in the Bundesliga this season.
At the heart of this display, we have Robben once again, who ran left-back Sead Kolasinac all over the pitch for the duration of the game only to bag himself yet another hat-trick for his title-winning side.
Such a win came during a period in the season in which Bayern consistently overcame opponents by such margins, yet no player was ever so directly involved as Robben that day.
6. Bundesliga vs. Hamburg (2010/11)
Another game that takes us back to the Van Gaal era also leads us back to another hat-trick in which Robben pulled out to dispose of Hamburg during the 2010/11 season.
As we know, that year was one in which Jurgen Klopp and his Dortmund side turned the tide of German football, which comes as no surprise when we remember that Robben was only fit for 14 of Bayern's Bundesliga games that season.
Alas we must remember that he managed to scored 12 goals and create 10 assists, per Transfermarkt, in that short space of time, with this game offering the best example of his limited excellence that year.
5. Bundesliga vs. St. Pauli (2010/11)
It would seem simply ridiculous to write up a list of Robben's greatest performances without involving a game that actually meant very little with regards to the result, but here's a match that will forever be remembered in modern Bundesliga history.
Just days before the end of the 2010/11 season, a campaign that Dortmund had already won, Bayern came up against lowly St. Pauli with disastrous results for the relegation-battling side.
Bayern won the day, 8-1, in which our battle-hardened Dutch winger scored two and assisted three. No mercy for any side when such a player is told he has to accept second place.
4. Champions League Semi-Finals vs. Real Madrid (2011/12)
In 2012, Bayern reached the Champions League final under Jupp Heynckes, where they would eventually lose a bitter final to Chelsea in none other than their own Allianz Arena. It was a loss that would go on to define the very side we have before us today.
Yet before that match, Bayern came up against an equally formidable foe: Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid.
Bayern had won the first leg, 2-1, yet the second leg wasn't going to plan—a handball by David Alaba in the sixth minute had allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to score an early penalty, before the very same player smashed home eight minutes later to double his side's lead. Bayern were struggling.
Enter Robben, the former Madrid star, who pounced upon the chance to bury his former, critical employers when Gomez was brought down in the box just 13 minutes after Ronaldo had set his side on the path to glory.
Robben scored the resulting spot-kick, and Bayern would go on to win the game on penalties. The coolest of heads in the most high-pressure of games prevailed.
3. DFB Pokal Cup Quarter-Finals vs. Dortmund DFB (2012/13)
In early 2013, the changing winds of fortune throughout German football were in full force when Bayern welcomed Dortmund to the Allianz Arena for the DFB Pokal quarter-finals.
The Munich side were pushing ahead in the league while both teams continued their European campaigns, yet it was on this night that the Bavarian club drew the first blood from what used to be Klopp's invincible side.
In a tight affair, it was but one goal from Robben in the 43rd minute that eventually separated the sides and shifted the power in the nation for good.
Bayern would go on to win the cup four months later to conclude a record-breaking Treble-winning season. It was all through this one goal from the Dutch winger.
2. Champions League Semi-Final vs. Barcelona (2012/13)
It would seem all but ridiculous to try and pick out an individual performance among the collective perfection that this Bayern side showed against Barcelona over the course of the two legs in last season's Champions League Semi-Finals.
Yet instead of noting down a particular performance on hard-working ethos that Robben showed throughout both games, we have closed in on the opening goal that he scored at the Camp Nou in Barcelona in the second leg.
Following a tight opening 45 minutes in which Barcelona threatened at length to force their way back into the tie, it was Robben who stepped up just minutes after the break to put Bayern's space in the final beyond any doubt.
The long diagonal pass from Alaba that found the poaching winger on the opposing wing quickly became an assist when Robben ran towards Adriano and performed a trick he'd pulled off throughout his career: a simple cut back and the smoothest of finishes to curl the ball past Victor Valdes in goal.
Bayern had just beaten Barcelona at their own game, and Robben was at the heart of it all.
1. The Champions League Final
Well we all knew this was going to be No. 1, right?
In the most important season of his career, at the most important club, in the most important competition, in the most important game, we saw the very best of Robben when everything that he'd spent his entire life building toward was at stake.
Bayern were always the clear favourites for the all-German final at Wembley against their bitter rivals Dortmund, yet it was all down to our favourite Dutchmen on the day to ensure the club of their fifth-ever Champions League trophy and their first in 12 years.
It was the opening goal in the 60th minute that Robben engineered after receiving the through ball from Franck Ribery and running almost too far wide of Roman Weidenfeller before cutting the ball across the empty goal mouth for Mario Mandzukic to knock home.
Dortmund managed to pull a goal back following some sloppy defending from Dante, but it was Robben again who stepped up to the plate when a poor back heel from Ribery, initially intended for Thomas Mueller, was latched on to by the Dutch winger. In front of Dortmund's goal without a defender in sight, he knocked the ball past Weidenfeller once again and confirmed Bayern as the new European champions.
It is the proudest moment of his career and undoubtedly the best thing he's ever done in a Bayern shirt.