Argentina centre-back Martin Demichelis has claimed Arjen Robben is ‘not a fighter’, ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands.
Robben has been one of the standout players of the tournament thus far but Demichelis, who played with the forward for a season at Bayern Munich under opposing manager Louis van Gaal, believes an aggressive approach can easily unsettle him.
"We have to be aggressive, to show the passion of the Argentinian players to the Dutch – and especially to Robben," he said. "He doesn’t like physical contact, so you have to make him feel it and get under his skin.
"He is a phenomenon and it is vital to know which way he goes. But he’s not got much edge, he’s not a fighter," he added. "Therefore you have to attack him because the more you stand off, the nearer to the goal you take him and the less margin of error you have."
Demichelis also had good words to say about van Gaal, who sold the defender to Malaga in 2011, where he became a mainstay under Manuel Pellegrini before the two were reunited at Manchester City last September.
"I was irritated [when left out of the side] but I always recognised he was the best football-wise, for the concepts he has and how he imposes them on a team," he said. "He has shown that in this World Cup. But I didn’t leave because of him, but because of my own decision.
"I’ve seen him do such things many times. For example, he’d get in front of the squad and say who was the best or worst at doing different things.
"He has a real determination in thinking about the team and potential consequences. I learned a lot from Van Gaal."
With 39 caps for Argentina since his 2005 debut, Demichelis has proved a polarising figure during his first season in Manchester, his inclusion in Alejandro Sabella’s 23-man squad after a two-and-a-half-year absence coming as a surprise to many.
Making his first appearance at the tournament in the 1-0 quarter-final win over Belgium, the 33-year-old started in place of the dropped Federico Fernandez and now appears set to keep his place for the decisive clash against the Dutch, as the Messi-led Albiceleste continue their run towards a third World Cup title.