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Russia plan squad purge for World Cup

Russia
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 By Ben Gladwell

Sneijder happy to let Robben star

Netherlands midfielder Wesley Sneijder has said he is not concerned that Arjen Robben is taking the majority of the plaudits in the team's World Cup run.

- Brewin: Small margins for Argentina, Netherlands
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As Louis van Gaal's side prepare to take on Argentina in the semifinals in Sao Paolo on Wednesday, Sneijder -- who grabbed plenty of headlines himself when he scored five times in the 2010 World Cup -- said his sole focus was on lifting the trophy.

"I don't care at all if [Robin] Van Persie or [Arjen] Robben have more of the headlines in the newspapers," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"It's not a contest about who can become more famous, it's a contest to win the World Cup.

"My aim in 2010 was to win the World Cup, and that's the same aim I've got now. I know it will be hard, but even in 2010 it seemed like it would be hard to beat Brazil and reach the final."

Robben's goals and performances for both Bayern Munich and his country have made him a leading contender for football's most prestigious individual awards, and Sneijder said: "I hope Arjen wins everything.

"There's no jealousy from me. I don't say that just about the player, but Arjen is also my friend. And if he wins the Ballon d'Or, then maybe that means we will have won the World Cup, so that would be perfect."

On Tuesday, Sneijder said in-form Robben was as important to the Oranje as Lionel Messi is to Argentina.

Robben began the tournament with a devastating two-goal display in the 5-1 demolition of defending champions Spain.

And Sneijder told reporters: "At this tournament more than any other tournament, Robben is to the Netherlands what Lionel Messi is to Argentina.

"He constantly occupies two or three opponents, creating space for others. Against Costa Rica [the last eight match won by Netherlands on penalties] he did that a number of times, and that helped us."

His comments were echoed by Netherlands legend Johnny Rep, who said Bayern Munich man Robben had been the player of the tournament so far.

Rep, 62 -- twice a World Cup runner-up -- told L'Equipe he believed Robben has outshone Messi and said he felt the Dutch were more than capable of taking their place in Sunday's final.

"The team is playing better and better, it is mentally strong, is lucky and has Robben," he said.

"People talk a lot about Messi and James Rodriguez at this World Cup, but for me, the best player is Robben. He was already good in 2010, but now he's really been extraordinary. Robben is the Dutch Messi."

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