The Bayern Munich winger insists that he does not want to get carried away but is nonetheless excited that the Dutch are surpassing all expectations in Brazil
Netherlands star Arjen Robben is reluctant to look beyond Sunday’s World Cup meeting with Mexico but admits that he and his team-mates are acutely aware that they are now just three wins from the final.
The Dutch were defeated by Spain in the 2010 decider in South Africa but, after a dismal first-round exit at Euro 2012, there was little sense of expectation surrounding Louis van Gaal’s squad when they left for Brazil.
After topping Group B with three wins from three games, Robben confesses that even he is surprised at just how impressively Netherlands are performing but says that he is now dreaming of a second successive appearance in the biggest game in football.
“If we win against Mexico, the World Cup final is possible again,” the Bayern Munich winger told De Telegraaf. “We must realise that.
“It’s simple: win three times and we’re in the final of the World Cup.
“Ahead of the tournament we did not expect this – although I did not have as bad a feeling about the World Cup as most people in Holland.”
The Dutch cause would appear to be aided by the fact that they are on what many believe is the weaker side of the draw, particularly as they would face either Costa Rica or Greece in the quarter-finals should they overcome Mexico.
Robben, though, is refusing to underestimate the threat posed by El Tri, who finished second to Brazil in Group A thanks in part to a thoroughly deserved 0-0 draw with the hosts.
“We cannot allow ourselves to think [about the ‘weaker’ side of the draw]”, Robben told Voetbal International.
“You must never look further than your next game because it’s not like we’re going to win easily [against Mexico].
“They have a good team. You could compare them with [Netherlands’ Group B rivals] Chile, who were also strong.
“We can beat Mexico. But one bad day, a small mistake or a bad call from the referee could mean you’re going home.
“You have to be tremendously focused, like we are. We’re not thinking about the draw or about who we could meet.
“No, it’s just about Mexico; end of story. And that’s a good thing.
“But, within the group, we’ve got a strong feeling that our tournament will not end against Mexico.”