Fortaleza is the setting as the Netherlands and Mexico go head-to-head in their second round clash. Team experts Mohamed Moallim and Jonny Rico Aviles preview the action.
Mohamed Moallim on the Netherlands: All eyes, once again, on the system Louis van Gaal deploys in the first knockout round against Mexico, and good money is on the 5-3-2 that served him well against Spain and Chile. Robin van Persie returns from suspension but Leroy Fer, who came off the bench and broke the deadlock against Chile, misses out after sustaining a hamstring injury in training. Bruno Martins Indi, recovered from a concussion, is hoping to be involved and Georginio Wijnaldum should retain his place in midfield.
Jonny Rico Aviles on Mexico: Mexico head into the round of 16 full of confidence and wanting to make history. They will have to do so without breakout star Jose Juan Vazquez who will be serving a one match suspension due to yellow card accumulation. The veteran former PSV and Fulham FC Carlos Salcido will replacement for the young defensive midfielder. Salcido, although naturally a left back, has played in the central defensive midfield position before, including in the 2012 London Olympic Games where Mexico were crowned champions.
Mohamed Moallim: A "machine programmed to win" was Wijnaldum's summation of Oranje after their first three games. Van Gaal, from the onset, made his intentions clear: winning takes precedence over what many consider pleasing on the eye. His team, not exactly battle-hardened, knowing their limitations have played to their strengths – if that means reactive football dubbed 'poldercatenaccio' back home then so be it – each game is treated on its own merits; the match against Chile was another case example. Van Gaal, showing his tactical hand, nullified them whilst his side were a constant threat on the counter. It might not be pretty but history, as they say, is written by the victors.
Jonny Rico Aviles: Mexico gave a stellar performance last time out against Croatia. During the first two group stage matches Mexico had struggled offensively scoring only one (allowed) goal. But against the Croatians Mexico were able to finally find the back of the net having one person from each area of the team score a goal for their 3-1 win. Defensively Mexico are on top form, but will be heavily tested by the Dutch. Mexico’s historic weakness has been the set pieces due to their smaller overall stature. They seemed to handle all free kicks and corner kicks well against Croatia, although Brazilian strikers beat out the defenders in these types of plays and forced goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa into some spectacular saves.
WHAT THE MANAGER SAYS
Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal: "It's all about winning so I use the system I think will let me win... that's what I think football is."
Mexico boss Miguel Herrera: “This is the kind of pressure one enjoys, we know we have to go out and get the win, both teams do. If we don’t than we go home. Our team has played very well defensively, we only gave up one goal so far and that was because we dropped the intensity in the final minutes of the Croatia match after scoring three goals; which we shouldn’t have done.”
Mohamed Moallim: So far one of the shining lights in Brazil, living up to his pre-tournament billing as the Netherlands danger man, Arjen Robben is seemingly on a one-man crusade to make up for his miss in Johannesburg four years ago: his first two games yielded three goals whilst he provided an assist in his last. Oranje will be looking to get their most talented player the ball as often as possible; his acceleration and sharp movement is certain to keep Mexico's backline – said to be vulnerable to pace – attentive.
Jonny Rico Aviles: Goalkeeper Ochoa was brilliant in the goalless draw against Brazil in the group stages, and you get the feeling that he might have to be so again up aganst the likes of Van Persie and Robben.
Mohamed Moallim: With an average of 3.3 goals per game, and the form of Van Persie (12 in last 13 games) and Robben (8 in last 9) as well as Memphis Depay (2 in last 2) off the bench, you wouldn't back against the Dutch from scoring over 1.5 at 2.25. One more for Robben sees him equal the Dutch record for most at the World Cup currently held by Johnny Rep (7). He is 2.95 to score at any time.
Jonny Rico Aviles: Both teams to score at 1.89. The attacking mentality the Mexican manager Miguel Herrera employs will either work fantastic or crash and burn spectacularly against a team who like to counter attack like the Dutch.
Mohamed Moallim: Netherlands 2-1 Mexico at 9.00
Jonny Rico Aviles: Netherlands 1-2 Mexico at 13.00
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