Mexico vs. Netherlands: Robin Van Persie Threatened By El Tri's Surprising Run

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By Lou Ramon Aguila | June 30, 2014 2:51 AM EST

Netherlands' striker Robin Van Persie is aware that they are heading into uncharted territories when they take on a spirited Mexican squad on Sunday (2:00 a.m Sydney Time) at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza.   

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Croatia's Luka Modric (L) and Vedran Corluka (R) react near Mexico's Javier Hernandez after their 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife, June 23, 2014.

Van Persie, who already scored three goals in the tournament, will make his return in the knockout stages after sitting out the last group match against Chile due to a one-game suspension(two yellow cards).

The Manchester United goal-scorer was ecstatic about Netherlands' form during the group stages, but warned his teammates to sharpen up their game as they take on Mexico, who are still undefeated in the tourney.

Mexico had to win a playoff qualifier to advance into the World Cup final, but their surprising play so far has really caught the attention of their rivals - including the man hailed as the Flying Dutchman.

"It's now a knockout. They [Mexico] played really well and remained unbeaten in their group," he told Times of India. "Even the hosts could not score against them. That speaks volumes about their abilities.

"Moreover, they will be playing in familiar conditions. We have to be more alert and best-prepared to face all sorts of situations.

"There is absolutely no scope for errors. We have to minimise our errors and try our best to capitalise on the errors of our opponents. We are not thinking far at this point of time. Just want to concentrate on the match at hand and give our best."

Mexico also boasts the arguably tournament's best goal-keeper during the group stages in Guillermo Ochoa, who recorded two clean sheets and conceded one goal in three games. On the other hand, Netherlands has an arsenal of goal-scorers on their starting lineup or off the bench.

Van Persie and Arjen Robben lead the charge for the Dutch but 20-year old Memphis Depay has also emerged as a potential threat to any team with two goals in the campaign.

"I must be realistic," Depay said in an interview via FIFA World Cup. "With incredible players like Robben and Van Persie, it's logical that I sit on the bench. If you see what Robben can do with dribbling the ball it's unbelievable."

Mexico and Espanyol defender Moreno also understands the surplus in talent Netherlands possesses on the field. Moreno, who played under Van Gaal during his time with AZ Alkmaar, also knows how organized the Dutch are on attack or defensive mode.

"They were young guys like me and they were just starting their careers when I was there. They've grown up under the guidance of Van Gaal. With the players they have up front it's going to be a very difficult match," Moreno added.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Ruben Sprich)
Croatia's Luka Modric (L) and Vedran Corluka (R) react near Mexico's Javier Hernandez after their 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife, June 23, 2014.
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