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Netherlands winger Arjen Robben goes into Saturday's third-place play-off against host nation Brazil still in with a great chance of winning FIFA's Golden Ball award for the best player at the World Cup after a brilliant campaign at this summer's tournament.
The Bayern Munich star scored three hugely important goals, including a second-half double as the Oranje stunned world champions Spain 5-1 in their opening Group B contest. He also contributed an assist in his country's run all the way to Wednesday’s semi-final with Argentina.
And while Robben was unable to find the required skill needed to help his side through to what would have been a second consecutive World Cup final after the South Americans had prevailed on penalties in Sao Paulo, it was not for want of trying on the part of the 30-year-old.
In fact, the sight of the wide man bursting through the Argentine defence with just seconds to go of normal time at the Arena Corinthians, before seeing his goal-bound shot diverted behind for a corner by the scurrying Javier Mascherano, will live long in the memory.
Not only that, but Robben was also then one of only two Dutch players to score in the resulting shootout. Whatever happens against the Selecao in Brasilia on Saturday, the player can hold his head up high on his return home.
As The Guardian’s Owen Gibson noted of the flying Dutchman’s courageous display in midweek:
Messi and Robben both suffered but the Holland winger at least retained his momentum and toiled to inspire those around him. Louis van Gaal, with whom he goes back a long way, looked to him for one last effort.
As the teams switched ends after the first period of extra time, it was Robben—as against Mexico and Costa Rica—who tried to gee up his troops. He has carried this side, a combination of callow Eredivisie players and old heads, but the semi-final was a bridge too far.
However, we should see far more of the fleet-footed playmaker in an attacking sense against Brazil at the Estadio Nacional on Saturday in a contest with much less riding on it than in the Netherlands' taut and tense semi-final with La Albiceleste.
And that, from a neutrals' point of view at least, can only be a good thing.