Winger Arjen Robben will look to bring an exceptional season to an exceptional end on Saturday by helping FC Bayern München overcome FC Internazionale Milano in the UEFA Champions League final. Here he sizes up the strengths of coaches Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho, looks back on a memorable campaign and sets his sights on a fitting finale at the Santiago Bernabéu.
UEFA.com: It's been a terrific season for you. Is it the best of your career?
Arjen Robben: Suddenly, it's certainly among one of my best years. I have felt good here from the first day. They gave me a great welcome. I feel very comfortable at the club and the main reason is I stayed fit for the whole season. For that reason I think I'm having a good season.
UEFA.com: What impact has coach Van Gaal had at the club?
Robben: A major impact. He has his own way of working and players have to adapt to him. He's got a lot of energy, positive energy, and is one of the few coaches in world football that still looks at the individual. Of course he wants to make the team better – in the end it is all about team performance – but he also looks at the individual. He wants to make players better and that is what he has done this year. That is why sometimes it takes some time, because he has his own way of working and tactically he is very strong. As a person, not just a coach, he is great for his players.
UEFA.com: What have you learned from Van Gaal?
Robben: It is a Dutch way of working, so for me it was maybe a little bit easier than for the other players, the German players. For me the most important thing is that he keeps telling us to make the right choices on the field. The game is so quick nowadays and you have to make decisions very fast. That is how he tries to help: to make a good decision, when to dribble, when to pass.
UEFA.com: Talking about coaches, you're coming up against your old Chelsea FC boss Mourinho. How does that feel?
Robben: It's great. I was at Madrid for two years and now this year at Munich, so I haven't seen or spoken to him for three years. Of course he is also a great coach. I had a great time with him at Chelsea. Together we won all the prizes that can be won in England and we wrote history together by winning the first title in 50 years at Chelsea. So yes, only positive experiences with him and lovely to see him.
UEFA.com: What are the differences and similarities between the two coaches?
Robben: They are both very strong at preparing a team. Mentally they're also very strong. They can really put out a winning team and create a winning team. As for their differences, Van Gaal maybe looks more at the football-playing part and Mourinho looks a bit more at the organisation defensively. As for the rest, they are among the best coaches in the world.
UEFA.com: Tell us about your compatriot Wesley Sneijder, a team-mate of yours last season at Real Madrid CF and now playing against you for Inter.
Robben: He makes the game. He's the one in the centre, playing behind the strikers and is always there to start the attack. I think all the attacking play will be done by him and he's always there to send great passes. He's a great player. It's very nice we can go back to Madrid together, playing for different teams but playing the final. I'm happy for him. He has had a great season.
UEFA.com: What will Bayern have to do to win?
Robben: I don't expect Inter to defend as much as they did against Barcelona, though of course they also had a player sent off. We have to play our own game. We can't change our tactics. We've played the whole season the same way and that's what we will do in the final as well.
On the day you have to sometimes be a bit lucky, but at least you have to be sharp in front of goal and the chances you get you have to take.
UEFA.com: How will it feel to return to the Bernabéu. Do you have a point to prove?
Robben: Yes, but not particularly in this game. I can already be satisfied about this season. But of course this is the highest occasion for a football player, also as an individual, so hopefully I can have a good game. But it's not to show people, it's to win the title. That's the most important thing. If I have a terrible game and we win in the end it's all good.
UEFA.com: How important is it for Bayern to win the UEFA Champions League?
Robben: It's funny, the club didn't expect us to be in the final this year. The main goal was to win the championship and that's what we did. But now we're in the final, it's a unique opportunity and you have to try and win it. You have to give all on this day and I think we will see 22 players who will play for their lives.
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