100 Champions League games for Robben
Arjen Robben celebrated a special milestone at Bayern Munich's Champions League victory over Celtic FC this past Wednesday. It was his 100th Champions League game (not counting qualifiers and play-offs). He thus is only the 32nd player to make 100 appearances in the elite competition.
Robben finds himself in some exalted company. He is tied with Ukrainian legend Andriy Shevchenko. Bayern’s legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn is still ahead with 103 appearances. Recently retired Philipp Lahm logged 112. And none other than Xabi Alonso is the most decorated Bayern player on the list, with a proud 119 apperances. None, of course, can hold a candle to Iker Casillas’s 166 appearances - a number still growing.
Speaking to the Münchner Merkur about the feat, Robben stated,
It’s something special. A few fewer injuries and it could have been many more [appearances]. I can definitely feel a bit proud about it. But it’s not about records; I’d rather have won another titel.
Robben has scored 29 goals in the top flight, 23 of which in a Bayern jersey. That number includes the match-winner against Borussia Dortmund on May 25, 2013, when Bayern won the treble.
And it's never too late for an old dog to learn new tricks. Robben's strong performance against Celtic included notably included a fair share of defensive work. Robben explained, “I told the coach that I would go back to the right back's position when we have problems in the back.” On defense, Robben successfully made three tackles, winning possession, was dribbled around once, and made one clearance in the penalty area.
An extension in the works?
Robben's extended resurgence has prompted some to speculate whether the veteran winger may be offered a contract extension from the Bayern bosses sometime in the near future. Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge fanned that speculation when he recently asked what tasks lie ahead for Bayern:
The future role of Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben is definitely one. I believe, though, that Arjen can still give us a lot this year...
Robben will turn 34 this January, but he looks like a good candidate for a one-year extension. If that happens, we may see him transition into a secondary role at the club, provided that Bayern flexes its fiscal muscles on the upcoming transfer market.
Robben himself meanwhile is relaxed and keeping his head clear:
My contract doesn't end until the summer, so I'm very calm and relaxed about it. No one has approached me yet. I'm also in no hurry. I feel good and am concentrating exclusively on soccer.
With the work that still needs to be done for Bayern, that is exactly what coach Jupp Heynckes would like Robben to do.