Alexander Buttner feels he is ready to square up to Arjen Robben and is going into the game against Bayern Munich on Tuesday in a buoyant mood.
The 25-year-old’s performances against West Ham and Aston Villa were certainly better than some of his previous ones have been but he’ll be marking Robben in midweek, a prospect which is a different kettle of fish entirely.
Despite the mismatch on paper, Buttner is confident he can do well matched up against Robben.
“I am looking forward to playing against Bayern,” Buttner told the Manchester Evening News.
“I have played two games now and I am starting to get a good feeling because I thought I played well against West Ham and Villa,” said Buttner.
“It is a big game but it is a chance for me to show what I can do. It is the kind of game you dream about. It will be one of the biggest games I have ever played in. It has been vital for me to get the two matches because it would have been difficult not to play and that to have to face a big game like Bayern. I probably still need a bit more but two games should be okay. After that I hope I can get even more matches.
“I feel confident about playing them. I know what Arjen Robben can do and I am ready for him. I have watched him so I know how he plays. I’ll do everything I can to stop Arjen Robben and help the team get a win at home.
“I have never played against him before and I haven’t watched videos or anything like that to study him but I know enough from what I have seen to know how he plays the game. It is not under discussion how good he is! We all know that.
“It’s going to be a tough day. He’s very good one against one, especially when he comes inside. I have to focus on that game and be confident in my own quality. I know I can get the better of him.
“This kind of big game is why you play football. It is what it is all about. It would be good for my career if I could do well against Robben. I want to do well against him. In the last two matches I have played well put in some good challenges and I hope I will build on that not just Bayern but after that as well. But I am focussed 100 per cent on Bayern now and I am ready.”
Buttner may only be playing because Patrice Evra is suspended but given how defensively weak Evra has been for United this season, Buttner’s energy could be a useful asset up against a Bayern side that can maintain such an intense tempo for 90 minutes.
The biggest challenge Buttner faces is making sure he has the mentality to match the occasion. He can’t grab players by the throat like he did against Aston Villa because he’ll get sent off and the tie would die off as a competitive fixture. Defensively, Buttner cannot afford to leave himself stranded high up the pitch either.
Is Buttner good enough to be a United player? The jury is still out on that question but proving himself against Robben and Bayern Munich would certainly do his credentials no harm.