Mexico and Netherlands are all set to put up a show at Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza, Brazil. With only one quarterfinalist coming out of this showdown, the Mexicans and the Dutch are in for a scintillating affair, which could see their respective star players stepping up their game to another notch.
Keys To Victory
Mexico: El Tri has been superb throughout the tournament despite needing to win a playoff for them to qualify. However, with the guidance of the ever animated head coach Miguel Herrera, Mexico surpassed everyone's expectation by beating Cameroon and Croatia and forcing a nil-nil draw with Brazil.
Defense will be an integral part for El Tri, if they are going to win their duel with the Dutch. Veteran Rafael Marquez and goaltender Guillermo Ochoa will surely have a busy day against Netherlands' potent striking force led by Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben, who already scored three goals each in the tourney.
Other than their defensive wall, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez need to provide more jolt to an offense that reached its peak in the final group match against Croatia 3-1. Hernandez has been struggling to crack into Manchester United's rotation, and it's about time for him to make an impression before the eyes of his next boss and Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal.
Netherlands: the Dutch are flying all over the place through their first three matches. After obliterating Spain 5-1 in their first match, Netherlands seemed to be a team on a mission, as they try to erase the pain of their 2010 World Cup final meltdown.
Van Persie and Robben will be once again leading the charge for the Dutch, but an active Wesley Sneijder could further provide the team more weapons on the pitch. Memphis Depay is emerging as a threat too with two goals so far, but the five guys behind their 5-3-2 are going to be the difference makers of this match. Offense is great, but defense always win championships.
Players To Watch
For Mexico - Ochoa, the best goaltender of the tournament so far with two clean sheets, will once again hug the spotlight for the Mexican side. After surviving Neymar and Brazil, Ochoa will be tested again, as Van Persie, Robben and Snejder plan for another goal onslaught.
For Netherlands - Van Persie and Robben are the major players in the match with El Tri, but Sneijder's creativity on the field will be the x-factor. Mexico's defense is going to be rougher than they have ever faced so far in the tourney, and obviously, they need a guy like Sneijder to create opportunities for the strikers.
A fast-paced game will bode well for Van Gaal and company, while Mexico can be deadly on counter-attacks. Despite a roster filled with goal-scorer, going deep into the penalty shootout would be disadvantageous for the Oranje not only because of Ochoa but also a boisterous Mexican crowd in Brazil.