Even after the Dutch sensation, Arjen Robben, has promised to put his all into his training sessions in order to be fit for the Netherlands' world campaign, it has been declared that he is highly doubtful for the initial stages of the competition.
Although most think that the Netherlands are comfortably placed in their group, it is far from reality that the Danes and Cameroon at least will be just walk overs. Even Japan has this ability to get pacey on the pitch.
So in such circumstances it could only be worthwhile if the Netherlands look carefully into the options available before making a choice as to who they think can replace the highly rated Robben in those matches.
The one thing that the Dutch Squad doesn't lack though is talent, and they have a few stars whom they can use as a substitute to Robben. A few nominations could be as follows.
Ryan Babel has been yet again considered as a forward as per the coach Marwijk. However, most of the success that Babel has achieved at Liverpool is playing down the wings. He has played both left wing and right wing. With a lethal left foot, Ryan Babel could be a possible replacement to Robben in that position till he is available for first team action.
Ibrahim Afellay could also be another possible replacement. The player has been well known for his creative abilities down both the right and left flanks. Although mainly used as a central midfielder, Afellay has the capability to replace Robben in a few encounters at least.
However, because of his lack of experience as a winger or far wide may distance Marwijk's decision to play him there for such a critical encounter, unless "Total Football " is emphasised on.
Elijero Elia is, in my opinion, the best replacement for Robben under the present circumstances. As it stands, Elia not only has good dribbling skills but also is a pacey lad down the flanks. He is another player whom Marwijk has named as a potential forward. However, the player's ability and quality to play as a wide man should really make him an automatic replacement for Robben in such crucial encounters.
Interestingly, on September 5, 2009 Elia made his debut for the Dutch against Japan (a team also placed in their Group) in a friendly match. he came on at half time, replacing Arjen Robben. The match went on very well, with Elia producing two assists in the 3-0 victory. In his second match Elia scored the solitary goal for the Netherlands that sunk Scotland.
Therefore, the Netherlands should really hope that they will not miss Robben as much as the world thinks they will.
Any of the aforesaid, if asked, should gleefully accept that role. And if they live up to their potential, the Netherlands should cruise through the group stage, thus giving Robben more time to recover and make himself available for the more important knockout encounters.
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