Heading into the World Cup, Mexico and the Netherlands were seen as two teams who would not be the same force as they were four years ago. But if their record in the group stages were anything to go by, we would surely have a cracker of a match. The Mexicans changed four managers in the span of a single year and they needed help from US of all teams to help them reach the playoffs. The Dutch on the other hand have been spectacular to say the least. After mauling defending Champions Spain by 5 goals to 1 in their first match of the competition, they beat the Australians and the Chileans in successive games giving them a full 9 points from the group stages.
Match Overview: Netherlands vs Mexico
The Oranje are the clear favourites in this match up. The duo of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben have been too hot for anyone to handle. And on the Mexican side, we have Guilermo Ochoa who many feel has been the best shot stopper of the tournament so far. That’s a match up that’d surely salivate any football connoisseur.
Mexican talisman Rafael Marquez has been one of the longest servants for the country and if Mexico were to have any chance of winning, Marquez would have to play a pivotal role considering the flurry of attackers the Dutch possess. The thrusts up the flanks by wing backs Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar have also created issues for opponents.
Mexico manager Miguel Herrera has started the same 11 players in all three matches thus far, but he will be forced to make a change tonight as Jose Juan Vazquez has gathered two yellow cards in the group stage. Latest news suggest that Herrera has announced his squad with Carlos Salcido replacing the missing Varquez.
There was hardly any surprises in Herrera’s decision to opt for the more prolific Peralta ahead of Hernandez who did have a very quiet season at Manchester United having spent most time on the bench under David Moyes. Chicharito hasn’t started a match yet, but he’s made an impact being introduced late into the matches, coming on and providing a spark for Mexico. Giovani dos Santos, Andres Guardado and Oribe Peralta have all chipped in with some crucial performances ensuring that the Mexicans make it beyond the group stage.
The Dutch too were in seemingly unknown territory considering their abysmal Euro 12 performance and the absence of key players like Kevin Strootman, Rafael van Der Vaart and Gregory van Der Wiel made many onlookers feel that the Oranje would not be the force they were a couple of years ago.
Even a shadow of doubt all critics had was put to rest as they decimated Spain and then continued the juggernaut as they registered two more wins. While the front two of Van Persie and Robben have been in tremendous form, the midfield of Nigel de Jong and Wijnaldum have gone about quietly doing their job.
Like Mexico, the Dutch have been playing a 3-5-2 or a 5-3-2 formation with Daley Blind and Stephan De Vrij operating as wing backs. Although the Dutch have been fantastic going front, their midfield has been critical to their success. Nigel De Jong and Wijnaldum have been pivotal to their success though the latter has been largely insignificant in the run of play.
Players to watch out for:
Arjen Robben: The Bayern Munich ace has been in terrific form for the Oranje this World Cup having almost single-handedly destroyed the reigning champions Spain in their opening fixture. His goal against Spain where he burst forward with incredulous speed right from inside his half to finish was recorded by FIFA as the fastest sprint ever on a football field.
Oribe Peralta: The 30 year old striker has become the first choice striker for Miguel Herrera with Javier Hernandez being restricted to substitute appearances this World Cup. The striker, who recently signed for Club America, has been the top scorer for the Mexicans in their qualification rounds for the finals and can turn out to be the crucial game changer if Mexico are to win this one against the heavyweight Dutch side.
They Said It
“We have spent two good years together and won a league together. He is one of the best players in the world and it will be nice to meet up with him.” — Javier Hernandez talking about his Manchester United teammate Robin Van Persie.
“It’s simple: win three times and we’re in the final of the World Cup.” — Arjen Robben speaking to German media.
There’s no prizes for guessing as I’m clearly rooting for the Dutch. I guess we would see atleast one goal from the Mexicans. So my final scoreline would be 3-1 to the Dutch.