Arjen Robben has had a strange sort of career. A prodigious talent at FC Groningen and later at PSV Eindhoven, the little Dutch winger finally fulfilled some of his huge potential at Chelsea where his important goals and assists were crucial to securing back-to-back titles for Mourinho’s men. However, he never really settled in London and his transfer to Real Madrid for £24 million was inevitable after Real followed their pursuit with a concrete offer.
At the full time whistle after Manchester United’s quarter final with Bayern Munich, there was a distinct hush around Old Trafford. There weren’t many boos from the home crowd – just the crushing disappointment at what they had just witnessed, perhaps even shock.
The Utd fans knew that the Bayern goal which delivered the knockout blow to their Champions League hopes was a special one. An outrageous first time volley into the far corner leaving Van Der Sar with no chance. There was nothing the Utd fans could do apart from applaud the strike.
There was no doubt that the player who scored it was ultimately the difference at the end of the two legs. After his displays this season, the big question has been asked around Europe, just why did Real Madrid decide to sell Robben to Bayern Munich?
After crashing out of Europe at the hands of Lyon, there was uproar around the Santiago Bernabeu. It was the sixth year in a row in which they had failed to progress past the quarter final stage of the Champions League. Given their £250 million summer transfer outlay by the President Florentino Perez, the exit at the first knock out stage was not good enough.
Whilst Messrs Ronaldo and Kaka failed to deliver on their astronomical transfer fees in terms of helping Real Madrid progress in the Champions League, it was in Milan and Munich where the two real stars of the Champions League have emerged this season. However, they also happened to be two players who were unceremoniously shipped out by Real Madrid and Perez in the summer.
Wesley Sneijder has probably been one of Jose Mourinho’s most important signings for Inter Milan since he took over. Playing in the hole behind Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito, he has been phenomenal this season; combining countless assists with important goals.
Chelsea fans will certainly need no reminder. It was a perfectly weighted pass from Sneijder which released Eto’o to score at Stamford Bridge and knock Chelsea out. Sneijder was also undoubtedly one of Holland’s best players during Euro 2008, again excelling in the forward position behind the striker.
Sneijder and Robben have helped carry their respective clubs all the way to the Champions League semi-final, and after the first leg victories for each club- in which Robben and Sneijder both scored, it looks very likely that the two Dutch players will meet again in the final. The Venue? Real Madrid’s very own Bernabeu. Irony in football is a funny thing.