The Decision on Arjen Robben

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The Decision on Arjen Robben
Ian Walton/Getty Images

When Arjen Robben hobbled off after Holland's 6-1 victory against Hungary with a suspected hamstring injury, the thoughts that went through Van Maarwijk's head must have been plenty. Is he going to be fit? How am I going change the formation? Who will replace him? Who's next?

At that moment when Robben hobbled off, it seemed that Holland's squad was on the cusp of their fragility's being confounded and their chances undone. The frail patchwork that Holland are built upon which includes Robin Van Persie's dodgy thighs, Van Der Vaart's troublesome knees, and Robben's temperamental hamstrings.

But Van Maarwijk has decided that Robben's injury isn't sufficient enough for him to go home. Instead, he is still there, waiting in the wings for the possibility to appear in the later stages. Which is a risk, but quite crucially, a brave risk.

Bravery though is a key ingredient of getting to the final. Risking it because that something could be the matter of getting your hands on the trophy. Putting your faith into somebody in a tournament could quite possibly bring you the World Cup.

If you picture it, take all of the glitz, the glamour, the unfettered hysteria, the eyes of the world away from that World Cup final, and you have 22 players on the pitch, vying for a place in immortality. But when that competition is amped up and when you need that something extra special, that true Maradona moment, that bravery will be rewarded.

It does seem like I am getting ahead of myself here though. What of the implications of not having Robben in place for the opening games? In truth, I can't see it mattering too much. Simply because Holland have much in their arsenal that Robben's ingenuity, and skill will probably not be needed until the later rounds - which is clearly Maarwijk's theory.

You have to hope that the bold risk will be rewarded in some turn. It'll be a brave man to bet against Robben making some serious impact in this World Cup and Maarwijk is giving him every chance to do so. Risk is and will be everything in this World Cup, you better believe it. 

Netherlands (National Football)

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