Robben: The fans deserve it
The next few days sees the start of what will be a really exciting April, with the away leg of the Champions League quarter-final in Seville and, before that, the cracker of Der Klassiker against Dortmund. These are the big matches that fans and players alike look forward to, and theses clashes usually turn out to be great occasions for a certain Arjen Robben. The Dutch winger has just recovered from a minor injury and can’t wait for the next few weeks. The 34-year-old explains to fcbayern.com the reasons why.
Interview: Arjen Robben
A twitchy nerve forced you out for the past week. How do you feel?
Robben: I feel fine. I’ve been training hard this week and from Monday onwards everything felt back to normal. I changed my routine last week and, specifically, did more work in the weights room, just to give my body a chance to recover. And now I’m ready to go again and can’t wait. Hopefully everything will be fine and I’ll keep fit, so that I can be part of it all.
So there’s nothing to stop you playing against Dortmund?
Robben: No, everything feels really good.
What exactly was the problem?
Robben: I had a slight problem against Freiburg so had to sit out the match. It all felt fine again against Hamburg so I was able to play. Afterwards, there were a few slight problems, so I took a few days out. It all just takes time, but not really too long. Now I’m fit and everything is back to normal.
You said you’re looking forward to the next few weeks, and it all starts with the match against Dortmund…
Robben: I love the big occasion and, in the past, the matches against Dortmund were always big occasions. You can always give that little bit more in them.
What do you expect from the Dortmund players?
Robben: They’re playing better now, especially under the new coach. Dortmund have and always will be a very good team. Even though they haven’t been very consistent this season, they repeatedly show their class in individual matches, and that’s why I’m sure they’ll put on a good performance.
If Schalke fail to get a result against Freiburg on Saturday afternoon, you could end up champions at the end of your match. Does that motivate you more?
Robben: Yes, of course it’s in the back of your mind. If I could pick the time, naturally I’d go for Saturday. The last six championships were decided away from home and the fans deserve to celebrate us winning it at home. But we’re dependent on other results and, unfortunately can’t make it happen ourselves.
Afterwards it’s the Champions League quarter-final. Your expectations?
Robben: Sevilla have great fans, so we can expect a difficult, dangerous task in a very passionate atmosphere in the away leg. Sevilla are a technically gifted team, very dangerous in attack but also very organised in defence. It’ll be very difficult. Above all else, we have to be in the right frame of mind.
During your time at Madrid you played a few games against Sevilla, but never actually at their stadium.
Robben: No, I’ve never actually played there. I think I was out injured twice, and now I’m really looking forward to the experience.
What’ll be the most important factors? Will your defence be challenged or will you have to crack a deep-lying defence?
Robben: Sevilla aren’t a team that just packs the defence. They’re also very good at putting pressure on at the front. We saw it against Manchester United, where they were fearless away from home. They’re an experienced team and are used to big matches. It’ll be a passionate affair.
Was the international break right before this critical stage beneficial or detrimental for the next few weeks?
Robben: You just have to take it as it comes. Every club has the same problem. It’s much more important to start this first match properly. That’s our task for Saturday against good opponents. We have to be on the ball right from the word go.
You’ll be playing every three days now. Does that mean you’ll change anything in your daily routine?
Robben: No, I just have to live each day as a professional, and make sure I sleep and eat well. It means recuperating will be even more important. Sleeping well, eating well, getting massages and basically all the things that are part of taking care of yourself to make sure you’re fully fit for the next match. But we’re used to that too.
Many sportsmen and women say they learn most from defeat. Bearing that in mind, how important was the Champions League final defeat in 2012 for your development?
Robben: It’s disappointing because you work hard, but it’s all a part of being a sportsman. And, first, you have to process a defeat like that. But then it’s a case of showing your character. How much do you want to be successful? How much will you invest in it? The best thing was that, in pre-season training in the summer of 2012, directly after losing the final, we noticed real fire in the team. We wanted to win everything straight away. And the fact that we succeeded at the end of the 2012-2013 season was, of course phenomenal.