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Football News: Football Comparisons 10 - Robben v Salah

Football Comparisons 10 - Robben v Salah
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Comparison 9 - Robben v Salah

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I heard about Arjen Robben leaving Bayern. Will be great if you could do a comparison between him and Salah. There is something similar about their play. - hhanif005

Apologies, as that shows how far I am behind on these comparisons! Though I have to say I am not so sure I see the similarity all that much myself, other than them being left-footed playing on the right. They both like to cut in and shoot, but Robben does it more from range, while Salah likes to attack the box first.

Touch: Salah's touch is exceptional, but Robben's was sublime. His left peg was incredible.

Tackling: Only one winner here as Robben was not good at tracking back, it was not his game at all, while Salah provides excellent protection when needed. He is often the deepest man when Liverpool take corners as he can be relied upon to stop most breaks before they can develop.

Dribbling: Tough call to make, both show excellence at times, but Robben just edges it as he knew better when to dribble and when not to. Salah tries too often to dribble in tight areas when there is an opportunity to play someone else in for a shot.

Passing: Both are excellent passers of the ball but neither like to pass unless they have to, as both want to score at every opportunity. Salah does have the edge slightly though, as his range of passing is slightly better than Robben's.

Shooting: This is one Robben wins hands down, despite Salah scoring more goals. Salah wastes too many chances to win this one.

Heading: A clear win for Salah, Robben is not the best in the air, mainly because he does not really look to go for headers.

Set Pieces: For penalties Salah is the clear winner, for any other set piece, Robben wins with plenty to spare.

Crossing: Both play on the right, so crossing is not something they are really their to provide, but they both have decent crosses. I will just give an edge to Robben, just, as he is better at delivering with his right (or should that be wrong?) foot.

Defensive Awareness: Salah is light years ahead on his defensive work, he is good enough that he is normally the deepest man when Liverpool take a corner and regularly breaks up attacks, as I mentioned earlier. Robben was always unreliable when called upon to defend, not that he was incapable, just that he was always thinking about getting himself into space to receive the ball, rather than closing down someone else's.

Movement: Salah wins this one, once again, it is one of the main reasons he scores so many goals now, his movement is exceptional.

Reading of the Game: This is a tough one to call, Robben was not really interested in anything other than attacking and in that respect his reading of the game was exceptional. Defensively it could be said to be lacking, but he rarely had any defensive responsibilities to worry about, so it is hard to criticise him, when needed Robben did show he could get back and help out. Salah, on the other hand, shows a good reading of the game at both ends, he knows exactly when he is needed to chase back and cover when the full-back is about to get caught up the pitch. So a close call to Salah.

Decision Making: Robben is a clear winner here, he seemed to always know exactly the right moment to cut in and shoot, whereas Salah often chooses the shot when it is not really on, or to attempt to dribble when a shot or pass would be better. It is probably the weakest area of the Egyptian's game.

Aggression: This is like comparing fluffy kitten pictures and deciding which is most scary! Neither are really aggressive in their play, if they get kicked to the floor they are the type to just get up and get on with it, rather than react. Draw.

Composure: Robben has the edge here, you can usually rely on him to be cool when he is in position to slot home, whereas Salah can be hit and miss, wasting many chances after hitting them high or wide.

Vision: They both have good vision, but I am going to give the edge to Salah, though he often ignores the player he sees in order to take a shot, it is clear that he has seen them. There have been times Salah has shown the kind of vision you would expect from a creative midfield-type. Robben has good vision, but it is just not at the level of Salah.

Workrate: Salah is the clear winner, he works incredibly hard both on the pitch and in training. It is why he has grown into such a great player. Robben's injuries meant he spent the latter part of his career conserving his effort for when he felt it would make the most difference.

Professionalism: Both exceptional professionals, which is why Robben had such a lengthy career and why Salah has grown into a top class forward. It is difficult to choose between them on this front, so I am going to call it a tie.

Acceleration: I really am unable to decide between them on this, they both move so quickly from being stood still to going that it leaves defenders trailing in their wake. It is just too tight to call.

Pace: Robben's early injury problems meant his outright pace was hampered by his hamstring problems. Salah has managed to avoid those and he still has exceptional pace, though he did look a little leggy at times last season.

Strength: This is another really tough call, they are both surprisingly strong and able to protect the ball against opponents that look like they should be able to move them aside with ease. I am going to just give this one to Salah, because every single time I watch him play his strength impresses me. It may not be a trait that comes to mind when you think of him, but it is incredible the way he can hold up the ball under massive amounts of pressure.

Leap: They both have an excellent leap but Salah is more likely to attempt the header, so it will have to be him who wins this particular battle.

Stamina: This goes to Salah, it is one of those areas where there is a clear winner. Robben is much better at conserving his energy for the right moments, but Salah's stamina is incredible. Not just in terms of within games, but in terms of being able to be fit and ready for the next game.

Conclusion: I love watching Robben play, there is no debate that he was a great player, but overall there is also no doubt that Salah is better. If you were picking a team you would much rather have Salah in there of the two. He works so much harder for the team, scores more and creates almost as many chances for others as does Robben. Most importantly, you can rely on him to be fit and available to play, whereas Robben suffered so many injury problems early in his career. Maybe things would have been different if Robben had not have had those issues, but the fact that he did is a huge factor in his effectiveness throughout his career.

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Suggested by hhanif005

Written by Tris Burke June 23 2021 13:01:45


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