Netherlands v Mexico – World Cup preview

The last-16 clash in Fortaleza is live on ITV on Sunday 29 June

Netherlands v Mexico, 4pm ITV (kick-off 5pm)


Like Brazil v Chile yesterday, this is a last-16 tie where it’s a real shame to lose either team from the competition. That was an attacking slugfest; this is a battle between Brazil 2014’s two most tactically astute sides, both of whom excel at measuring up the opposition, neutralising them, then picking them off.

Mexico’s main threat comes from their wing-backs, so the Dutch might continue with the five-man defence that so effectively shut Chile down in the last group game. Liverpool fans will raise a nostalgic eyebrow at the sight of Dirk Kuyt playing left-back. Apart from Carlos Salcido replacing the suspended Jose Vasquez as the midfield holder, Mexico are likely to be unchanged – which might be a relief for the Holland defence, who’ll be nervously waiting for Javier Hernandez to come off the bench and replace the much slower Oscar Peralta.

At the other end of the pitch, Robin van Persie is back from a one-match ban and could be the difference between the two teams. Holland’s spectacular win over Spain showed that, even if most of the other nine players are functional drones, van Persie and the blazing Arjen Robben are powerful enough to do the match-winning by themselves.


Don’t forget, however, something that wasn’t a factor in either of the knockout games so far: the conditions. Mexico will be vastly more comfortable in the 29C heat of Fortaleza. Can Robin and Robben run for 90 minutes – or 120?