Mexico vs. Netherlands: 6 Things We Learned
Mexico managed to hold off the Netherlands for 75 minutes, but after the cooling break, Louis van Gaal made some adjustments, and in the last five minutes, the Oranje secured their ticket to the quarterfinals, 2-1.
This is the sixth time Mexico have failed to reach the last eight of the tournament, the only team in the world to hold that record.
For most of the time, El Tri played like they had during the group stage, but after Giovani Dos Santos' goal, the squad's defensive game clearly hurt them.
These are the six lessons we learned in the round-of-16 match.
Guillermo Ochoa Has Been the Best Goalkeeper so Far
Guillermo Ochoa proved again that he is at his best. The Mexican goalkeeper made two fantastic saves against the Dutch, which kept the score in El Tri's favor.
The former Ajaccio player has quick reflexes, which is probably his most valuable asset. He is also good when it comes to the aerial game, as he proved on the Netherlands' multiple corner kicks.
He was named Man of the Match for the second time in the tournament, the only Mexican to receive such an honor.
Ochoa is currently a free agent, and he will probably land a good contract with a big team. His agent confirmed to ESPN FC (in Spanish) that he has already received several calls from world-class clubs.
Mexico Have to Be More Efficient in Attack
Mexico opened the scoring with a powerful, long-distance shot by Dos Santos, but they couldn't convert any other chance.
El Tri created nine goal opportunities, however, Oribe Peralta, Andres Guardado, Miguel Layun and Hector Herrera couldn't put the ball away.
Mexico cannot let any chance slip because teams with such history as the Netherlands will not forgive, as happened on Sunday.
There's no use in keeping the ball, exposing the rival's weaknesses and leading the score for 87 minutes if the team cannot score when they have the opportunity to widen the advantage.
Netherlands Need to Work on Their Back Line
Mexico put the Dutch defense in distress with long passes, diagonals and through balls.
Van Gaal has to work a lot with the back line because they were out of rhythm and completely overpowered by Mexico's speed.
Ron Vlaar, Stefan de Vrij, Dirk Kuyt and Bruno Martins Indi won 35 percent of the tackles in which they were involved, they sent one successful cross to the box and only made five interceptions.
Van Gaal cannot afford to have such a shaky and inaccurate defense, especially when the rival has depth.
Overconfidence Buried Mexico
Mexico did just what they had to do during 75 minutes, and after that, they missed the point and showed a great deal of overconfidence.
The team stopped passing the ball, which ultimately led to lack of goal opportunities in a match that they had controlled.
Miguel Herrera's strategy didn't work in those last 15 minutes, and the Netherlands proved that patience pays off.
Van Gaal's side were physically exhausted. They knew their only chance to make a difference on the pitch would be with a stroke of genius, which Wesley Sneijder did.
Robin van Persie Can Be Stopped
Robin van Persie had a couple of opportunities to stun Ochoa, but he failed, and he couldn't do much to help his side.
The Mexican defense was strong throughout the game, and the Manchester United striker was very uncomfortable.
Herrera was right when he put Moreno and Layun in charge of Van Persie's coverage. Both defenders were strong and didn't hesitate.
Van Gaal decided to take him off the pitch in the 76th minute, precisely when the Netherlands started to make a difference on the pitch.
The Refereeing Is Worrisome
It was unfair for both sides.
Hector Herrera suffered a kick in the face by Vlaar, and the referee let it pass.
Later, when the first half was about to end, Moreno tackled Robben inside the box and nothing happened. After the game, Robben apologized for diving, as reported by Robin Bairner of Goal.com.
Perhaps the most controversial decision came in stoppage time, when the referee awarded a penalty after Rafael Marquez allegedly fouled the Dutch winger.
Whether it was a fair call or not, the truth is this World Cup has had enough mistakes and FIFA needs to step up and look into this issue.
Stats via Squawka unless otherwise noted.
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