FIFA World Cup 2014: Robben and Van Persie - Dutch`s double trouble
Rio de Janeiro: Both goal-scorers against Australia on Wednesday, Dutch forwards Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie now have three goals each and seem determined to leave their mark on the World Cup.
Quite apart from the number of goals, the quality of their performances has also been roundly applauded.
Robben was clocked at 37 kilometres per hour (23 miles per hour) during Holland`s 5-1 rout of Spain -- a record for a footballer -- while Van Persie`s glorious diving header in the same game appears destined to become one of the images of the tournament.
The statistics reveal that the Netherlands, who have already scored eight goals in only two games, are heavily dependent on their two attacking stars.
In his last eight matches for the Oranje, Robben has scored at the exceptional rate of a goal a game.
Van Persie, meanwhile, has found the net 12 times in his last 13 appearances, notably netting a double in the 2-0 win over Andorra, a hat-trick in the 8-1 rout of Hungary, and another brace in the crushing victory over Spain.
Between them, the pair have accounted for 65 percent of the 29 goals that Holland have scored this season, making them by some distance the most productive players since Louis van Gaal returned as coach two years ago.
Their form for the national team can be traced directly to their performances at club level.
Robben scored 21 goals in 45 matches for Bayern Munch last season, while Van Persie claimed 18 goals in 28 games despite enduring a difficult campaign at Manchester United under David Moyes.
Van Persie`s goal against Australia took his career total to 247 goals in 519 professional games for club and country.The milestone of 250 is therefore in sight, although his suspension for Monday`s game against Chile means that he will have to wait until the knockout phase for his next opportunity to chase down the target.
When asked to explain their current productivity, the two players are quick to laud the tactical system put in place by Van Gaal, who will coach Van Persie at United from next season onwards.
"I`m a player who craves counter-attacks," explains Robben.
"The fact that our defence plays very deep frees up a lot of space for Robin and me. We have the whole pitch for leading counter-attacks."
His goals against Spain and Australia were the perfect illustration.
"The 5-3-2 allows me to play in a very direct way towards Arjen and Robin," adds midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who is a key figure in the pair`s supply line.
"Against Australia it was less straightforward because the Australians were less attacking than the Spanish. But against Chile and again in the last 16, our system will do a lot of damage."
However, Van Gaal is considering jettisoning the system as he is less than satisfied with his players` conservation of the ball.
"It went better (against Australia) when we moved to a 4-3-3 after Memphis Depay came on," explained the 62-year-old, who added that he would discuss the matter with his players.
Sneijder, though, is happy with things just the way they are.
"The 5-3-2 works," he said. "You don`t change a winning system."
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