ROTTERDAM, June 5 (Reuters) - A season without injuries may never happen in the whimsical career of Arjen Robben, yet despite all the setbacks he remains the most lethal threat in the Dutch team.
When he is fit, and in form, Robben is feared by almost every team in Europe, but the winger’s complete package also contains his inconsistency, caused by injuries, with a special vulnerability to muscle strains.
That is why Robben played only three seasons at Chelsea and two at Real Madrid. Since joining Bayern Munich in 2009, however, his dynamic contribution to a team has been revalued even if it is accepted that he is unlikely to complete a full season.
In 2010, a week before the start of the World Cup, Robben sustained a hamstring injury which would normally have ruled him out of the tournament.
But Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk retained faith in Robben and his medical staff and he was kept behind for a week’s special treatment, joining the squad later in South Africa.
He made his first appearance in the third group match, a dead rubber against Cameroon, and then scored in the last 16 meeting with Slovakia and the semi-final against Uruguay.
He was the only Dutch player to find two scoring opportunities in the final against Spain, but was unable to produce a goal or help prevent a rugged Dutch team from losing a third World Cup final.
Since then, the unpredictable Robben has played a handful of internationals but was in fine form against an injury-hit England in February this year.
Robben opened the scoring at Wembley after an impressive 60-metre run from his own half and snatched victory with a precise curled shot in added time.
He helped Bayern reach the Champions League final this season but his night was to end in huge disappointment. Robben had his extra-time penalty saved by Chelsea’s Petr Cech and the German side, playing in front of their own fans, lost a shootout to the Premier League side.
Keeping Robben fit, and in form, can be the difference between a good team and a successful team.
This Dutch side is recognised already as a good one and Van Marwijk has to work out a plan to find the right balance of training and rest for Robben to give him a chance to be at his best and bid for more honours.
Remarkably, at 28, he has already won five championship titles in the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany. Now he wants to win something with the national team -- and complete that personal double. (Editing by Tim Collings/Mike Collett; firstname.lastname@example.org)