An interesting question I explore here: Who would prevail between Arjen Robben and Dele Alli in a five-a-side game, with 5 versions of the same player up against each other?
Both Arjen Robben and Dele Alli are in varying stages of their personal development as professional footballers. One is in the peak years of his career at Bayern Munich, while the other is one of the best young talents in world football, playing his trade at an ever-improving Tottenham side in England’s top flight.
They both have a range of excellent attributes which set them apart from their peers: Robben is notoriously known for his selfishness at times, which is over-exaggerated but equally justified by his performances on the pitch. He is quick on his feet, deceptively agile and unpredictable to defend against, especially once he gets going.
In a 5-a-side game, you’d back him to be successful. However you’d argue the same should be said for Dele, who at 21, has managed to propel himself from League One success to Premier League stardom in the space of a year.
Teams like Robben’s Bayern scouted Alli’s progression at MK Dons and could have signed him before Spurs acted quickest and signed him for £5m on deadline day at the start of 2015. As time passes, especially in such an inflated market, that £5m price-tag looks more ridiculous as Alli continues to develop at a fast rate.
A challenging upbringing has only helped mould the England international into the exciting player he is today. Dele is strong, powerful with a physical presence and also possesses a good range of passing. That’s before you delve into his eye for goal, which has seen him score 30 and assist 18 more in 72 Premier League games to date.
With all that in mind, it makes this encounter a tough one to predict the eventual victor. Once you analyse the pair’s similarities and differences, especially given the fact they would be playing 5-a-side, which is more physically demanding than 11-a-side, there can only be one winner.
Success in this format requires concentration and consistency over sustained periods, something that Robben doesn’t have in abundance – especially given his age and number of troublesome injuries sustained over the past few seasons.
He can’t last as long as he might’ve done earlier in his career, meaning he’d make more mistakes and at a quicker rate than Alli. The creative midfielder utilises his intelligence to good effect as he’s shown versatility to play in a range of different positions over the past few years: whether that be as a deep-lying midfielder, in his favoured No.10 role or even as a secondary striker.
This also means that he’d be well-suited to different responsibilities in 5-a-side, which cannot be said with the same conviction from Robben’s perspective. Alli’s temperament has come under scrutiny, especially after the Claudio Yacob incident, as well as the sending-off against Gent during Spurs’ forgettable European campaign last season.
However, he has recently shown maturity and discipline in the way he handles contentious decisions, which also reinforce confidence that he wouldn’t let Robben’s well-documented theatrics distract him from winning the game if the Dutchman resorted to dirty tactics. Robben is better technically in comparison but as a team, Alli rules supreme.