It was only fitting Arjen Robben was the one who scored a brilliant goal for Bayern Munich in their 1-0 win against Dormund, finally putting the ‘curse of Dortmund’ behind them, which had a lot to do with Robben himself, who has hardly been given the chance to shrug off the ‘loser’ label off his forehead.
Last season, in a direct clash for the title, Robben missed a penalty kick and another fantastic chance as Bayern lost to Dormtund for the fourth consecutive time in the Bundesliga, while Robert Lewandowski’s goal made sure Dortmund opened enough of a gap to win a second consecutive title. Robben missed another penalty and showed no remorse or change in individualistic style in the Champions League final against Chelsea, missing another penalty kick.
Robben was never a people’s person. Big ego usually go along with big talents, and Robben, one of the more talented wingers in Europe over the last six-seven years, has quite a bit of both. What worked so well during the first year under Louis van Gaal, as Robben took Bayern on his back to the final of the Champions League only to be completely limited by Inter and Mourinho, started falling apart. With his teammates, and with his head coach, Jupp Heynckes.
Heynckes made a brilliant more, realizing that playing like Dortmund won’t be avaliable and possible unless the selfishness is brought out of the squad. Franck Ribery isn’t the nicest person in the world, but he doesn’t play on the football field like it belongs to him. A diva in the dressing room, but a teammate first when he’s playing for Bayern.
So Robben, also due to an injury, has started in only 7 matches, coming off the bench in four more. By pushing Thomas Muller to the right wing, where Robben used to play, he enabled Toni Kroos to step out of the holding midfielder position and show his abilities as the attacking midfielder, resulting in Bayern steamrolling the league and the rest of Europe up to this point.
Robben? The talent is still there; the problem is the personality, the work ethic and his behavior on the field. In the 1-0 win against Dortmund, playing on the left wing instead of a suspended Ribery, it worked very well. Robben, knowing the chances of him staying another season with Bayern (despite being signed until 2015) aren’t that great. The rumors suggest that Guardiola doesn’t have the patience for players like him.
Robben is now trying to make the most of the few opportunities he gets until the end of the season, possibly growing because of the huge lead in the league, and audition for his next job. It’s probably in Bayern’s best interest to give him some time on the pitch to not hurt his sale price too much. A brilliant winner against Dortmund is probably a good way to start his late season tour in attempt to clear his name, that has been tarnished on and off the field over the last couple of seasons.