The Round of 16 is generally reserved for hard-hitting, competitive soccer, but this knockout-round clash will be anything but, as the Netherlands should continue their dominance in this tournament against Mexico.
Both teams have performed well in the 2014 World Cup thus far. Mexico made it through Group A with seven points, as they outperformed the likes of Croatia and Cameroon on their way to a berth into the next round.
Netherlands absolutely destroyed the competition in Group B. They notched three wins in three matches, as Chile, Spain and Australia had no answer for their incredible attacking prowess.
The Dutch seek a return to glory, and this might very well be the tournament where they make it happen. But, first things first, they'll have to get past Mexico on June 29.
Below is a full preview for the match including TV information, injury and suspension news, projected lineups and a score prediction.
You can watch Netherlands vs. Mexico online at WatchESPN.com.
|Sunday, June 29||Noon||Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza||ESPN|
Injury and Suspension News
Barring any injuries during practice and training sessions, Mexico will likely be at full strength against the Dutch. This team has stayed pretty healthy throughout group play, and that will bode well for them against the Netherlands.
One man that they must keep healthy is 35-year-old Rafael Marquez. He was crucial in leading his team to the knockout stage, and even won a Man of the Match award along the way:
Marquez has scored in three different World Cups. At 35 years old, he's still in fantastic shape. Keeping him fit for this match against the Netherlands is paramount.
For the Dutch, Robin van Persie will be back on the pitch after being suspended for his team's match against Chile. He picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against Australia, therefore banning him for one match.
With him back on the forward line, Holland have the overwhelming advantage in terms of attacking. Van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben form one of the most potent trios in the world, and they'll be aggressive early against Mexico.
With Van Persie back, the Mexican defense best be ready for a tiring affair.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa; Paul Aguilar, Hector Moreno, Marquez, Francisco Rodriguez, Miguel Layun; Andres Guardado, Jose Vazquez, Hector Herrera; Giovani Dos Santos, Oribe Peralta
Netherlands: Jasper Cillessen; Daryl Janmaat, Ron Vlaar, Stefan De Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi; Daley Blind, Jonathan De Guzman, Sneijder, Nigel De Jong; Van Persie, Robben
The Netherlands lost in the 2010 World Cup final to Spain, and they're out for revenge this time around. In an interview after their most recent win, Robben spoke about how they're trying to change the culture of the team, via CNN.com:
There was a lot of passion on the pitch, we defended really well, I am proud of the way the team defended.
I think we did a great job and this is not where we want to stop. It is a fantastic result and a fantastic performance and we don't want it to end here.
We need to change our mindset as we want to move forward.
Having completed the first part of their journey back to the final successfully, the Dutch will now focus all of their attention on Mexico. The stars this team has on each side of the ball will make it difficult for El Tri to keep up.
This World Cup has been no stranger to shocking results, but it's nearly impossible to pick against the Dutch. Despite missing a game, Van Persie already has three goals and appears ready to lead his team all the way through this tournament.
Mexico will need to play tight, mistake-free defense against a team that will take advantage of the smallest of opportunities. You won't outscore the Dutch, so you need to limit their chances.
Prediction: Netherlands 3, Mexico 1
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