B/R Exclusive: Mexico's Aspirations for the Round of 16 Match vs. Netherlands

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2014

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 23:  Rafael Marquez of Mexico celebrates with teammates scoring his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Croatia and Mexico at Arena Pernambuco on June 23, 2014 in Recife, Brazil.  (Photo by Miguel Tovar/Getty Images)
Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

Mexico are preparing for one of its most exciting World Cup matches: the round of 16 clash vs. Netherlands.

El Tri surprised many in the group stage, especially after a scoreless draw with the host and a 3-1 victory over Croatia, which proved their attacking power.

Ex-goalie-turned-broadcaster Raul Orvananos talked with Bleacher Report about Mexico's aspirations ahead of the game with the Oranje.

Orvananos is part of the panel of talent of La Ultima Palabra and Central Fox on Fox Deportes.


Bleacher Report: Mexico are in the round of 16 again, and their match will be very tough.

Raul Orvananos: It's going to be complicated, but it will also be difficult for Netherlands.

Mexico are playing great. They take their rivals out of their comfort zone; they press and have a tight defense.

Netherlands are sharp when they attack, but the back line is shaky.


B/R: Let's talk about the defense. Netherlands struggled through the flanks with Australia.

RO: Absolutely, they are not as sharp and lose focus. The centre-backs are not fast, and that is why Mexico must take advantage and attack through the flanks with Paul Aguilar and Miguel Layun.


B/R: Layun and Aguilar need to go back to their positions quickly to prevent a counter-attack.

RO: It's fundamental. They have to return at least to the midfield; they have to take turns and not attack simultaneously.

It's as if this match would have been handmade for them, therefore they cannot take too long to get comfortable, like [what] happened against Croatia.


B/R: Mexico defense has been solid overall. Francisco Rodriguez has had a fantastic tournament contrary to what many thought.

RO: I was one of those, and he shut my mouth. We have seen the player he was when he played in Europe. He takes advantage of his speed and build. He has been accurate and disciplined.

The performance of the three centre-backs and the goalkeeper is one of the reasons why Mexico advanced to the knockout stage.


B/R: Speaking about Guillermo Ochoa, can you share your thoughts about him?

RO: Before the tournament Ochoa had not locked the starting position because Jesus Corona seemed to be Herrera's first choice. But Ochoa has been fundamental, especially against Brazil.

In the round of 16, we can expect more good saves. He has quick reflexes, and his dives are flawless.


B/R: Mexico will not have Jose Juan Vazquez in the midfield. Who should replace him?

RO: His work is different from what others do. He is a central midfielder that presses in every line. We have seen him on the rival's box, for instance. He is short, fast and agile, which are his most valuable assets.

I believe Carlos Salcido will be the man for the job. His coverage is tight, and he keeps the ball, but he lacks El Gallito's characteristics.

This situation could put Mexico in disadvantage, and let's hope Salcido's experience compensates it.


B/R: Will Javier Hernandez's goal change the starting XI?

RO: No, I think Giovani dos Santos will play from the start again.

However, Chicharito could come in earlier. He had more playing time with Croatia, and look what he did. Dos Santos and Oribe Peralta need to step up because Hernandez is getting back on track.


B/R: Hernandez is on the verge of making a decision about his future with Manchester United, and the timing couldn't be better.

RO: This match very important for him because he will play in front of Louis van Gaal, United's future manager. If he has a good day on the pitch, maybe the coach would consider him for the next season.


B/R: Talk about Netherlands' deadliest weapon.

RO: Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie are lethal.

Very few footballers can score the kind of goals Van Persie has bagged. He is a complete forward, as he can shoot from outside the box and at close-range, plus his aerial game is superb.

Robben is one of the fastest footballers in world football. He is good with possession and dribbling.

If Mexico manage to neutralize them, then they could win.


B/R: There's so little talk about fitness, and Mexico have been stunning in that department.

RO: That's a good observation. Mexico is one of the best teams when it comes down to fitness. It has been notorious in every game, especially against Brazil.


B/R: What about Mexico's World Cup hopes?

RO: If they manage to beat Netherlands, they will achieve great things, mainly because the following match would be against Costa Rica or Greece.

Costa Rica have had their best World Cup, and they are playing great football, but they are not as powerful as Netherlands.

On the other hand, Greece barely managed to get through the knockout stage.

This could be a historic World Cup for El Tri.


B/R: Let's say Mexico lose, what would be the reaction from media and fans?

RO: It will be the same old story: We played like never before, but we lost as usual.


Petr David Josek/Associated Press

B/R: Would you consider it a failure?

RO: No, a failure would have been not even qualifying for the World Cup. Losing to Netherlands would be frustrating.


B/R: Seven months ago, people had little hope in El Tri. Miguel "El Piojo" Herrera, who is now an Internet celebrity, gave the team a new face.

RO: Many people think he is a great motivator, and he is an amazing strategist more than anything else. The adjustments he has done so far have been great, like putting Marquez as a libero to give Vazquez more freedom in the attacking zone. 

He has a very good relationship with Ricardo Pelaez (Sporting Director) and Hector Gonzalez Inarritu (Director of national teams). Herrera has managed to become his players' friend, which has helped him a lot on the pitch.

In Brazil, he has amazed because he's a new face. In Mexico, we have known him from quite some time, and we know that he is not acting.


B/R: Talk about Herrera's future after the World Cup.

RO: He wants to stay with El Tri. I believe it would be very nice to finally have one manager through the four-year process.