Why Mexico can still progress past Holland at the World Cup
Mexico and Holland’s fortunes during qualifying could not have contrasted more, with the Oranje cruising through their group without defeat while El Tricolor managed just two wins before squeezing through a playoff round.
But when the teams go toe-to-toe in the second round of the World Cup, it could be the Mexicans who come out on top, after impressing for much of their three games at these finals so far.
When Miguel Herrera was appointed interim head coach of Mexico back in October, the national team was in chaos, with the 46-year-old the fourth manager in the space of a month.
He was a risky choice too, having only recently tasted success as a coach with Club America and there were still question marks heading into this World Cup, with Herrera only overseeing a relatively straightforward play-off against New Zealand.
But after a well-deserved win and then draw against Cameroon and Brazil respectively, the Mexico manager oversaw arguably his finest victory to date against Croatia, with El Tri effectively nullifying an array of attacking stars and hitting them on the break to devastating effect.
Part of Herrera’s success stems from his loyalty to those players he worked with at Club America – players that understand his ethos and adhere to it and his tactical instructions while on the pitch.
It’s a strategy that has paid dividends with the likes of Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar part of a defence that has shipped just one goal – a late consolation strike for Croatia – from three games.
Up front, Oribe Peralta has been preferred to Javier Hernandez and has already proven effective, scoring the winner against Cameroon.
And while those stars have performed, Europe-based players like Chicharito and Giovani Dos Santos have played their part, as has veteran Barcelona legend Rafael Marquez.
While Holland’s perfect nine-point haul paints a picture of harmony, the reality is that the Oranje shouldn’t be backed to go all the way just yet.
It took a moment of individual magic from Robin van Persie just before half time to inspire a sensational fight back against Spain, while Australia could have beaten the Dutch on another day, had their finishing been a little better.
In the end the Socceroos were defeated by a long-range deflected shot, while Chile dominated for long periods in the final fixture, before the Dutch counter-attacked in the dying minutes.
Miguel Herrera’s team did an effective job of containing the creativity of players like Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, while Mario Mandzukic was also kept quiet – they could do the same against the Dutch.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £100 in free bets.