United’s two strikers left in the World Cup – Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez – face off on Sunday evening as Netherlands take on Mexico in the Round of 16.
The two strikers have a strange parallel to their international and club stature – where Robin van Persie is a guaranteed starter and one of the most respected players for his club and country, Hernandez doesn’t seem to get the respect his ability deserves – a forgotten sub for United and restricted to substitute appearances in the World Cup.
That comparison extends to their national team’s chances as well. Netherlands are one of the strongest teams in the competition and deservedly favourites to go through. Mexico, no one’s pick to get past the group stages, are playing in the knockout rounds and they have the capacity to spring another surprise, Chicharito-style, by scoring a vital goal against the Dutch and going through to the quarters.
It’s not going to be easy for Mexico and Hernandez though – tactically, the Dutch have been spot on in this World Cup, nullifying Spain and Chile and thwarting a desperate Australia. They’ve defended well, they’ve taken the chances that came their way and they’ve held on against a surging opponent.
Mexico have paced themselves well, playing conservatively in their first two games before opening up and beating Croatia 3-1 in their defining Group A game. Despite a troublesome qualification campaign, they’re still in the mix and as long as they play the way they did against Croatia, they have a chance against the Dutch.
For all their differences in style and stature, there is one thing that unites the two teams as well as the two United strikers – their desire to succeed.
Whether it has been RvP’s ability to sustain himself through an injury-ravaged career to develop into a world-class striker or Chicharito’s determination that sees him in the United squad each year, these two players and teams are sure to give us a great spectacle of match on Sunday.
Predictions: Netherlands will be too strong for Mexico, 3-1 to the Dutch with RvP getting on the scoresheet once again.
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