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Déjà-vu for BVB

Tireless Robben shines in unfamiliar role

Déjà-vu, according to the dictionary, is the impression of having already ‘seen’ or experienced something happening in the present. The Borussia Dortmund camp must have felt the phenomenon in cup final extra-time on Saturday night when Arjen Robben handed Bayern a late but deserved lead which ultimately brought the holders their 17th success in the competition. That would be the same Robben who almost exactly a year ago scored the winner against BVB in the Champions League final at Wembley.

Addressing the victory party at Deutsche Telekom’s Berlin headquarters later in the night, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge described the 30-year-old superstar as “Borussia Dortmund’s bestia negra.“ Robben has scored in the last three knockout clashes with BVB, and now has eight goals in 13 appearances against the men from Westphalia. The Dutchman has scored more often against the yellow-and-blacks than any other opponents.

Unfamiliar position

“Arjen is a model professional who went through a vale of tears with us in 2012. He’s totally professional every day in training and in every public appearance. His private and family background is unimpeachable. No level of praise is too much,” declared board member for sport Matthias Sammer. The player long ago recovered from the dramatic but heart-rending climax to the season two years ago, when he missed penalties against Dortmund in the Bundesliga and Chelsea in the Champions League final and also lost the cup. On Saturday evening Robben again showed his ability to make the difference in big games.

“These are the matches you work towards throughout the season,” Arjen said after his third DFB Cup triumph. Boss Pep Guardiola opted to field the Dutchman in an unfamiliar central striking role against BVB. “It was a new position for me. I didn’t play the ball as often as normal, but I waited for my chance. And I knew a chance would come my way,“ he reflected.

One last sprint

“He’s world class and I’m very pleased with him. Working with him is a pleasure,” enthused Guardiola. Robben crowned his goalscoring display in the final with a performance brimming with tireless effort. With players on both sides dropping with cramp in extra-time, Robben summoned up the energy for one last sprint, galloping more than 50 yards to tackle BVB full-back Lukasz Piszczek as he shaped to fire in a dangerous cross.

“That was tremendous, that was Bayern Munich! That was desire and passion,“ Rummenigge declared. “That incident showed just how much the team wanted to win.“ Just a few seconds afterwards Robben initiated the move leading to Thomas Müller setting the seal on the evening with his team’s second goal. “We ran and tackled hard, dived in, and played good football at times too. The treble-winning season was superb – and now we have the double,” Robben smiled.

Even after 120 energy-sapping minutes in Bayern’s last match of term, Arjen still had enough in the tank to hoist the 6.25 kg DFB Cup into the Berlin night skies, before getting down to the business of celebrating: “We’re going to go for it tonight.“ It was well after midnight before he left the banquet – and he was still moving well.