5 Things We Learned From Netherlands 2-1 Mexico


1. The Netherlands Will Believe Like Never Before

It’s one thing to win games in the manner that the Dutch did in their unforgettable victory over Spain in their first match of the tournament, but a win like this builds belief, confidence and crucially a sense that you are unbeatable.

Carrying on in such intense, unforgiving conditions and pulling a defeat from the jaws of victory in the manner that they did will make these players feel around 10 feet tall. They can win this World Cup. Why not?

2. Guillermo Ochoa’s Agent Is A Happy Man

“No, don’t sign for anyone yet Guillermo. Just go to the World Cup and we’ll sort it out when you come back.”

The Mexican goalkeeper’s agent Jorge Berlanga will never have said wiser words, as the 28-year-old turned in yet another fine performance in an arena where he so impressed against Brazil in the group stages. Having left French club Ajaccio this summer he’s available on a free transfer, and both the signing on fee and weekly wages are going up by the game.

3. Louis van Gaal Tried To Be Too Clever

The talk pre-tournament was that the Dutch would play a 5-3-2 formation in their opening game against Spain before shifting back to their usual 4-3-3, but given the almost outrageous success of that opening victory against the holders it became somewhat understandable that they stuck with it.

However only eight of the 11 who started that Spain game began this one, with the three who were absent all occupying key positions in the system. Would Van Gaal, who gratefully accepted fulsome praise before the match, not have been better off going back to a formation his players both knew and trusted? He got away with it this time.

4. Wesley Sneijder Can Still Have An Impact

Performing at the level he showed during the 2010 World Cup – when he probably should have been given the Golden Ball award for the best player – may now be beyond the capabilities of Wesley Sneijder, but he can still impact on a match.

He wasn’t great here, but his fierce strike two minutes from the end woke up the Dutch, and set the stage for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to win the match from the spot.

5. This Game Should Never Have Been Played At This Time

Oh FIFA, you were doing so well.

Sepp Blatter has been kept off television screens and there has been praise from almost everywhere except Uruguay for the severity of the Luis Suarez ban, but playing this game in this stadium at this time asked far too much of the players.

It was far too tough for them, making the drinks breaks vital and making the Dutch comeback all the more impressive.