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Attacking ace

Robben rapidly recovering form and fitness

Louis van Gaal and his team are passing through turbulent times at present. “Without Ribéry and Robben, we lack creativity in attack," the coach lamented after the bitter 2-0 defeat at home to Girondins Bordeaux. The pacy French dribbler will be sidelined for a while longer, but Robben proved on Wednesday he is recovering well from knee surgery. The 25-year-old’s introduction after half-time had an immediate impact on his side’s goalscoring potential.

“You can always add fresh impetus when you have Robben as a weapon in reserve,” Uli Hoeneß said in advance of the midweek encounter. The fresh impetus was there all right, and the player was unlucky not to see his best effort end in the net, when his angled drive on 62 minutes shaved the foot of the far post. That was not the only incident in which Robben showed he is a man who can truly make a difference. Whenever the Dutch ace ran with the ball down the right flank, the Bordeaux defence looked ragged and anxious. That left space and made chances for Robben’s team-mates, although the ball simply did not want to go in on the night.