Mexico striker Javier Hernandez is out to prove his worth to new club manager Louis van Gaal, when El Tri take on the former Barcelona coach's Netherlands side in their last 16 tie.
His Manchester United career currently in limbo, after enduring a frustrating 2013-14 season, Sunday’s clash could be a crucial opportunity for Hernandez to impress the incoming van Gaal, with the Dutchman set to replace the departed David Moyes at Old Trafford following the World Cup.
‘This whole year has been very tough. Players need confidence more than anything else and I've been very short of it,’ Hernandez said. ‘Very few people have shown faith in me over this past year.
‘We have to stay very calm, very humble and not get carried away. This is just one more step forward – a very important one – but just one more step. If we want to make history we have to beat the Netherlands and keep moving along the path we've set out for ourselves.’
Hernandez is coming off what’s been a hugely disappointing campaign with United, with just six starts in 24 Premier League games and only four goals to show for his efforts, as the 26-year-old took an obvious step back from the promise shown in previous three seasons under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Arguably the national side’s most fundamental player for the past few years, with a record of 36 goals in 65 appearances, his poor form also saw him dropped from the Mexico lineup, with América’s Oribe Peralta establishing himself as manager Miguel Herrera’s preferred option up top.
Forced to settle for the bench in the team’s opening two World Cup games against Cameroon and Brazil, Hernandez did however come on to score in the 82nd minute of the decisive 3-1 win over Croatia, with the goal a big confidence-booster ahead of the knockout stages.
Likely to again be confined to a substitute role against the Dutch, the formerly prolific goalscorer could nevertheless still have a vital part to play late in the game, as he looks to both inspire his side to an upset and quell some of the speculation over his possible United exit.