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Arjen Robben injures groin, will miss Netherlands' game againt Italy at Euro 2008

Arjen Robben injures groin, will miss Netherlands' game againt Italy at Euro 2008

The Netherlands lost mercurial winger Arjen Robben for its opening European Championship match against Italy on Monday because of a groin injury in a major setback for the team.
"First of all, it's very disappointing for Arjen. However, it's also a pity for the team," coach Marco van Basten said.
Robben had been in sterling form during the preparation campaign and was a perfect match with Real Madrid teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy.
On top of Robben's injury, right winger Robin van Persie is struggling to recover in time to be a substitute for Monday's game.
After Italy, Oranje faces World Cup runner-up France on Friday and Romania on June 17 in Group C. It's unclear if Robben will be fit to face the French.
Robben's misfortune compounds problems for Van Basten, who had already lost Robben's understudy, Ryan Babel, to an ankle injury last week.
"Arjen will work very hard on his recovery. So we really do hope that he can be of value for the team later in the tournament," Van Basten said.
At the World Cup two years ago, Robben and Van Persie were the best players on the Dutch team, constantly creating danger on each wing. Both players, however, have proved injury prone since.
The injury will likely open up a starting role for Dirk Kuyt, who may not be as flashy but has proved extremely efficient for his club Liverpool.
Defender Mario Melchiot missed training Saturday because of an irritated pubis bone but should be fully fit by the time the Netherlands faces Italy on Monday _ although the defender was not necessarily a starter even if fully fit.
Van Persie moved freely during Saturday's training, continuing a recovery from a thigh injury. Midfielder Wesley Sneijder also appeared to be fully fit after a tight hamstring sidelined him on Thursday.
Van Basten knows he will have to be able to count on every available resource over the next week to counter the loss of Robben.
"They already played the World Cup," Van Basten said of his first two opponents. "Two years later, they also are getting better and better."
Even when he started out four years ago, Van Basten insisted he was working for Euro 2008, and he now feels he has a balanced team to work with.
They played immaturely during a second-round loss to Germany in the World Cup, but Van Basten is convinced they learned from that.
"A lot of players are now playing in the big Spanish and English leagues, more players are playing abroad than two years ago. We have made some steps forward," he said.
The weakest link is considered the back four, even though the defense only conceded five goals in 12 games in qualifying. All too often though, it was the sterling work of goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar which saved the Dutch from some embarrassing results.
Defenders may come from reputable clubs like Andre Ooijer's Blackburn Rovers, John Heitinga's Atletico Madrid or, in Melchiot's case, Wigan. Facing world champion Italy, though, is something else.
Both Sneijder and Van Persie trained with the full squad Saturday despite injury problems earlier in the week.
Sneijder had a tight hamstring on Thursday and missed a training session because of it. He is especially prized as the No. 1 free-kick taker on the team and already scored a beauty against Wales last Sunday in the last warm-up game.
Van Persie can make mesmerizing runs on both wings and decide a game with a single action.
Up front, goals are expected to come from Van Nistelrooy. He had an infamous falling out with Van Basten during the World Cup, and was sidelined in the decisive loss against Portugal.
They have since restored a working relationship which should bear fruit over the next week.


Updated : 2021-05-18 14:11 GMT+08:00