|Arjen Robben during a training session, on Wednesday
Salvador: Without doubt, Arjen Robben has been one of the outstanding players of this World Cup. Any adjective short of ‘amazing’ would not do justice to performances that, throughout, have inspired and propelled The Netherlands.
Whenever the going has got tough, Robben has always got going, speedily, hungrily, leading Dutch attacks with crucial goals and assists.
Costa Rica are sure to have zeroed in on the Bayern Munich winger as the real danger ahead of Saturday’s quarter final and they will face a player who is relishing every moment of his World Cup experience.
“I think we are on a mission together, and when you come to a World Cup, it’s not to enjoy the weather and enjoy the beach in Rio.
“You’re here to win matches and to go as far as possible. I don’t think the expectations were too high before the tournament and, therefore, we can be very proud of where we are,” he told the Fifa website.
Robben, however, reminded the Dutch need to stay focused against the Costa Ricans. “I think Costa Rica are a very strong team. We have to stay focused.
“Costa Rica have already proved their strength in their group, which was very tough with Italy, England and Uruguay there. They’ve been really impressive and we’ll have to prepare very well should we beat them,” he said.
Commenting on being called as a potential player of the tournament, Robben remarked: “I just feel very strong. I feel good, I feel fit, and I think that’s the most important (thing) because I can transfer everything on to the pitch.
“I’m having a lot of fun and really enjoying it here. In the second half (against Mexico), I was on the ball more and I could threaten the opposition going forward. That’s a nice feeling.
“Mentally, I feel really good and, physically, I feel very strong. I can play my football and I’m really happy that I can help the team. I think we (the senior players) also have the responsibility for the younger guys. We try to take them along and I think we’ve got a good mixture of experience and youth at the moment.
“Again, everything we do, we do together and it was beautiful to turn the (Mexico) game around as a team.”
Clarifying on the Dutch’s present style of football, Robben commented: “Of course, we’re used to playing 4-3-3, attacking football with two wingers, but I think you also have to look at the quality of the squad.
“That’s what we did, and what the manager did. We spoke about it a lot with him and decided to play a slightly different system.
“I think it’s very functional, maybe not as dominant as we are used to playing, but still very good. And we’ve played four games and scored 12 goals, so that’s pretty positive.”
After Memphis Depay against Chile, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar rose to the occasion to score the winner against Mexico, which shows even the substitutes are ready to deliver as and when the team requires.
“Well, we have a fantastic manager in Van Gaal who knows exactly which players to bring on at what time and how to change things on the pitch. So that’s fantastic.
“And although Klaas-Jan and Memphis have both scored, I feel every player who has come on in the games so far has had an influence and done a fantastic job. Ultimately, that’s the kind of strength you need to win a World Cup,” Robben pointed out.