HOUSTON – Mexico faces an extremely difficult task against the Netherlands on Sunday. They face a team that not only knows how to score goals, but has been doing so in bunches.
Throughout the group stage, Mexico has shown that they can keep the ball out of the net. This was a bit of a surprise, considering that I feel they have a relatively slow back line. I attribute this to the way the entire team plays defense, how they get numbers around the ball quickly and to the fact that they don't give other teams time on the ball to pick out penetrating passes. They must continue to play high-pressure defense in order to be successful in this game.
Despite Mexico's defensive efforts, I feel that Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder have the ability to break that initial pressure and make penetrating passes or runs. Robben is one of the most dangerous players in this World Cup, and has the ability to break down defenses on the dribble. This, in my opinion, is where Mexico is going to have the most trouble containing Holland.
They will need to prevent service to Robben and get tight around him when he receives the ball so that he cannot run at defenders. He has perfected receiving the ball on the right side of the field and cutting inside at the top of the box to his favored left and either curling the ball to the far post or sneaking it under a defender's leg to the near post.
Another key in Holland's attack is Sneijder. He has the ability break defenses down with passes from behind or shots from distance. When he is on the ball, Mexico will need to be careful of Dutch captain Robin Van Persie's runs from behind. They will need to be close enough to have a hand on Van Persie because, if they are not, Sneijder will surely find him in lethal positions.
Overall, I feel that Holland's physical defense and quick counter attacks will overcome a Mexico side that has made a great run. I think Netherlands wins, 2-0.
Mexico and Netherlands take the pitch Sunday.
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