Netherlands vs Mexico - World Cup R16 match preview

Netherlands and Mexico meet today for their round of 16 clash in the 2014 World Cup. The two quarter-finalists are already known, Brazil and Colombia. Netherlands did amazingly well in their group and won it, their display against Spain being particularly impressive, and the Mexicans have also overperformed and managed to beat Croatia in the decisive third-round match with a passionate and spirited performance.

Netherlands already had a big test for this match as they played against another high-energy team, Chile, and winning the third-round clash 2-0. However, another such team, Australia, caused them problems in the second round. That means Netherlands didn't yet connect two good performances in this tournament but they might do so now as they have left the pressure of the group behind and now have to focus on winning instead of doing math and getting points. The Dutch definitely got more in store for the knockout stage.

Mexico, on the other hand, look like they have reached the limit of their performances and that they can't do any better and the only question is will that be enough to knock Netherlands out. The Mexican pace and high tempo even caused Brazil a lot of problems, but then again Brazil seem to have a problem with the Mexican playing style and can't seem to beat this team.

Mexico are playing in a 5-3-2 formation with three very good central midfielders and with the two amazing wingbacks Layun and Aguilar joining to make it a five-man midfield. It works very well, the central defenders are also very competent, with Rafael Marquez dictating play. The only problem for Mexico is that they haven't got world class strikers who can decide the match on their own, but although they can't change the course of the game they're good enough. There's a big question whether Guillermo Ochoa, the goalkeeper, can keep performing the way he did against Brazil and Croatia or was he just lucky as the strikers hit him with the ball every time.

Louis van Gaal will again opt for the Dutch version of 5-3-2, his newest innovation that is trying to mimic what Mexico and some other teams are doing. With a difference that Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are in offense here, making this team really dangerous. It's worth noting that those are the only two good players in this team, as Wesley Sneijder is past his prime, and the other players are mostly unknown and have backup roles in their respective clubs. Netherlands will live and die by the performance of their offensive duo, and it's a well-known fact Arjen Robben is winning the matches for Netherlands. If he doesn't do it, no one else will.

The match is played on Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza.