Holland v Mexico – Robben Hood To Make Oranje MerryStats
Holland v Mexico
Holland have been one of the most impressive teams in Brazil up to this point but they will face a Mexican team that are also unbeaten at the World Cup; something has to give.
After topping a tough group with a 100% record the Netherlands have gained many admirers in their pursuit a first world crown.
Louis van Gaal’s side have arguably been the team of the tournament to date as they opened with a 5-1 thrashing of defending champions Spain and a breathtaking performance in their first game which they haven’t looked back from since.
They followed that up with a 3-2 victory over a gutsy Australia to qualify with a game to spare but there was no letting up in the final group outing against fellow qualifiers Chile when they again turned in an assured display to earn a 2-0 win thanks to late goals from substitutes Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay.
The Dutch also boast two of the standout performers at the finals to date in Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, who have both grabbed three goals apiece as part of a formidable forward line.
It wasn’t been quite as convincing from Mexico but they have shown themselves to be a fine side as they came through Group A in second spot behind Brazil.
An opening 1-0 win over Cameroon deserved to be by a bigger margin as they had two perfectly good goals disallowed by poor offside decisions and they were worthy of a point against the hosts in their next game even if they also had goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to thank for a couple of fantastic stops.
Their fate would then be decided by a final group showdown with Croatia and they passed the test with flying colours as goals from captain Rafael Marquez, Jose Guardado and Javier Hernandez in the final 15 minutes gave them a fully deserved 3-1 victory over Croatia to ensure their progress to the last 16.
Van Persie will return to lead the line for the Netherlands following his one-game suspension for picking up two bookings in his first two games as he again forms a formidable duo with Robben up front.
Fer is a doubt after picking up a hamstring problem since heading the opener against Chile while full-back Bruno Martins Indi could again be absent as he continues his recovery from a concussion.
Defensive midfielder Jose Vazquez will miss out for Mexico as he serves a suspension following his second booking of the tournament against Croatia but they have no injury worries.
Head to Head
Mexico have never beaten Holland in any of their four meetings to date, although they achieved their best result against the Dutch, a 2-2 draw, in their group meeting of France 98, when they came back from two goals down to earn a point which helped them qualify alongside the Oranje.
Their last meeting came in May 2010, when a brace from Van Persie helped his side to a 2-1 win despite a late reply from Manchester United striker Hernandez.
At clear 11/10 favourites to win in 90 minutes, Van Gaal’s men will be expected to reach the quarter-finals although they will find it difficult against a well-organised and resolute Mexico – big outsiders at 14/5 to win in normal time – who already have two clean sheets under their belts in this World Cup.
I don’t see it being plain-sailing for the Dutch but I do think they’ll have too much in attacking positions for their opponents to deal with and can see them getting the better of a tight affair.
Take the outstanding Robben to make the most of his lethal pace and get on the scoresheet again at 11/8 anytime or an eye-catching 5/1 to bag the first of the contest.