presented by
Exclusive interview

Robben: It’ll be tough but we’re up for it

Two days prior to the Champions League quarter-final first leg away to Manchester United, Arjen Robben had his foot firmly to the floorboards. The Dutchman was a model of commitment and determination in Sunday’s training workout. Still damp from the shower he sat down with for an exclusive interview, making no secret of his keen anticipation ahead of the clash at Old Trafford, a stadium he remembers very fondly...

Interview: Arjen Robben Arjen, yet again you gave it 120 percent in training. How do you manage it in every session?

Robben: “I really went for it today, in every sprint, jumping every hurdle. It’s what I need sometimes, and of course I have one eye on Tuesday. But sometimes I do need to tone it down a bit as well. I’ve learnt how to manage the different approaches, and I think I’ve become a little more relaxed since last season.“ The Champions League quarter-final first leg away to Manchester United is on Tuesday. No-one will ever forget your stunning goal the last time the sides met in April 2010. Thinking back to that were you surprised when Franck Ribéry’s corner landed on your boot?

Robben: “I wasn’t surprised, because it clicked between me and Franck from the very first day. I gave him a little hand signal before that goal, and I could tell from the way he shaped to take the kick that he’d seen me. The ball came over, I stayed completely calm and cushioned the shot rather than blasting it.“ Was that one of your best goals?

Robben: “It’s certainly one of my top five. It wasn’t just a great goal, it was incredibly important. If you’re leading 5-0 and you score the sixth it’s still a great goal but isn’t worth as much.“ You’re returning to Old Trafford with Bayern. How often do you think about the goal from 2010?

Robben: “I basically don’t think about it at all. I treat these things very factually. Football moves on so quickly. I scored that goal nearly four years ago and in the meantime we’ve experienced plenty of new things and been very successful. I always keep my eyes on the future. The time to reminisce is when you’ve stopped playing.“ But you still have good memories of Old Trafford?

Robben: “Yes, and not just due to the goal we’ve been talking about. Playing in England is always fantastic, and Old Trafford is very special with an amazing atmosphere. A Champions League quarter-final in these surroundings – it’s the kind of thing you dream of as a player.“ United lost 3-0 at home to Manchester City last Tuesday but beat Aston Villa 4-1 on Saturday. How would you assess United at the moment?

Robben: “It all counts for nothing in a match like this. United lost 2-0 away to Piraeus in the last 16 but won 3-0 at home. We need to watch ourselves! The media and everyone else is saying: United aren’t in good shape so you’ll definitely make the semi-finals. I don’t like this at all! It’ll be a tough contest! We need a top performance right from the start. You only need to lose concentration once and you could be beaten by United.“ What needs to improve in Manchester compared to the draw with Hoffenheim?

Robben: “A lot of things. Hoffenheim were aggressive, our concentration wavered, and we weren’t good in possession. That always makes it difficult against a team with quality up top and it should serve as a warning for Tuesday. We face a team with real attacking quality. If you’re unfocused and lose possession cheaply you’ll be punished.” Have you spoken to your fellow countryman Robin van Persie since the draw?

Robben: “A little bit but mainly due to his injury. I think it’s a shame he can’t play, and the same now applies to Thiago. Everyone wants to play in the closing stages of the season and it hurts if you can’t. I know this from my own experience.” How much will United miss Van Persie?

Robben: “Obviously Van Persie is special, but Manchester United have plenty of attacking options: Rooney, Welbeck, Nani, Valencia... as I’ve said, it’ll be tough, but we’re up for it.”