Uruguay coach cites Robben threat

Cape Town: Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has cited Arjen Robben as the man they need to tame if his team is to shock the Netherlands and win their World Cup semi-final on Tuesday.

The South Americans go into the game in Cape Town as clear underdogs against a side that won all eight of their qualifying games and are unbeaten in their five matches in South Africa.

"I agree that he (Robben) is a great footballer, he is very fast and nimble and takes very long strides which makes it difficult," said Tabarez.

"With Robben back this side has benefitted greatly.”

"Controlling the important players on the Dutch side is a crucial part of whether we progress."

The Bayern Munich winger has repeatedly shown he has the ability to win a match single-handedly, but he has also been perceived in South Africa as a player who dives.

The criticism hit a crescendo after he appeared to deliberately dive to win a free-kick which resulted in the Dutch drawing level with Brazil at 1-1 in their quarter-final.

Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk late on Monday came to his player`s defence, insisting he may have dived in the past but had learned his lesson.

"I don`t think he does this deliberately, but he is a player who is incredibly fast and creative," he said.

"Very often he faces an opponent and he may fall or get pushed, maybe it happened in the past, when he perhaps could have avoided it, but I think he has learned from this and doesn`t do it anymore.”

"Robben is an extremely talented player and I think he is one of the best football players on the planet. He has been injured, but I am very happy to see him fit here," he added of the former Chelsea and Real Madrid star.

"I think he played very well in his last game and is hitting his rhythm, he can decide a match. I have always believed in him, even when he is not playing that well."

While Tabarez sees Robben as the key threat, he also believes every team has its weaknesses, which he intends to exploit as Uruguay look for an unlikely upset that would put them in the final against Germany or Spain.

"This Dutch side is very attack-minded but also very good in defence," he said.

"Holland has fully demonstrated they are one of the strongest teams in the tournament and are going to be one of the hardest teams for us to face.”

"We have been analysing Holland and trying to find their strong and weak points, and every team has a weak point.”

"They are superior to us in terms of collective ball possession, but assuming we are weaker, if you look at footballing history you can find ways to face those teams.”

"We will go out there with enormous faith and do everything it takes as we have in our prior matches."

Uruguay`s task has not been made any easier by injury worries, with captain Diego Lugano struggling with a ligament strain while midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro has already been ruled out with a bruised right foot.

The team will also be without striker Luis Suarez, who misses the game after being red-carded for his deliberate handball against Ghana, as well as suspended defender Jorge Fucile.

The South Americans are playing their first semi-final in 40 years as they look to relive their glory days, having won the tournament in 1930 and 1950.

Bureau Report

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