World Cup: Van Persie back to terrorise Mexico

Dutch captain, Robben make up deadly duo against opponents in last 16 .


Agencies June 28, 2014

FORTALEZA:


Robin van Persie returns to the Dutch attack to face Mexico in the second round of the World Cup on Sunday while Mexican defender Hector Moreno will lock horns with his former mentor Louis van Gaal.


Van Persie was suspended for the Netherlands’ 2-0 defeat of Chile in their final group match but will be back to partner Arjen Robben in the tournament’s deadliest attacking duo.

The pair scored three each during the group stage as the Dutch romped into the last 16 with three victories and 10 goals, more than any other team at the World Cup. That rich vein of form makes them favourites against the Mexicans, but their previous clashes have been remarkably even.

In six meetings, the Dutch have won three and the Mexicans two. Of the 22 goals in those matches, both sides scored 11, and their only previous meeting at the World Cup, in 1998, ended in a 2-2 draw.

Mexico determined to make history

Eight months ago Mexico looked set for one of the greatest humiliations in the country’s football history. Now they are riding a Latin American wave at the World Cup.

A disastrous qualification campaign put them on the brink of elimination. However, as they ended a 2-1 defeat away to Costa Rica in their final CONCACAF qualifier, they received a lifeline from the unlikeliest of sources.

Two goals in stoppage time by the already qualified US away to Panama handed the Mexicans a second chance through a playoff against New Zealand despite having won just twice in 10 qualifiers.

Now Mexico can reach the World Cup quarter-finals on foreign soil for the first time with victory over the Netherlands. The Mexicans have already come through a tough group against World Cup favourites Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon.

Costa Rica wary of Greek catenaccio

Costa Rica are determined to score first when they tackle Greece in the World Cup last 16 in Recife on Sunday.

Greece have developed a reputation over the years of being extremely hard to break down, particularly if they take the lead.

They have almost perfected the classic Italian system of catenaccio (bolt-lock) in which teams would play in an ultra-defensive way and hope to score a single goal on the counter-attack to take a lead they would then defend.

And Los Ticos technical assistant Luis Marin said his team need to score early to prevent Greece from taking the lead and then shutting up shop.

“It’s crucial for us to score early in the game, especially as Greece are known to tighten up at the back once they score,” said Marin.

“But we know it’s going to be a tough game all round. Greece are also potent on the counter-attack.”

 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2014.

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