Netherlands v Mexico: Key Battles – Manchester United strikers crucial

Javier Hernandez will need to outshine his Manchester United teammate Robin van Persie if Mexico are to surprise the Netherlands and qualify for the quarter-finals.

Robin van Persie v Rafael Marquez

Van Persie will be desperate to make up for missing out in the 2-0 win over Chile, when he returns from suspension to the Dutch starting line-up in Sunday's last-16 clash with Mexico.

The Manchester United striker’s performances in the previous two matches were outstanding, especially when he captained his side to a famous 5-1 win over 2010 World Cup winners Spain in the first match. Van Persie’s movement and finishing is superb, and many defenders struggle to keep him under check.

The Mexican defender likely to be tasked with that challenge will be Rafael Marquez. The former Barcelona star is an accomplished defender, but marking an in-form Van Persie will be tough. His lack of pace is something the Dutch will target, but as he is likely to be one of three central defenders, there will be little space for the Netherlands attack.

Nigel de Jong v Hector Herrera

The Netherlands play a very fluid and attacking football, but despite that, they still need a midfielder who stops the opposition from playing - and that is De Jong's role. He was outstanding in the 2-0 win over Chile, restricting the South American team to few chances on goal during the 90 minutes.

Herrera has been brilliant for Mexico so far in this tournament. The Porto midfielder has been integral to all the good things that El Tri have done going forward, and will need to be at his best again in this last-16 clash. The 24-year-old’s passing, creativity, and movement will trouble the Netherlands.

Ron Vlaar v Javier Hernandez

The Aston Villa centre-back plays as part of a three-man defence in the Netherlands team who look, at times, vulnerable. Their clean sheet against Chile would have given them confidence, but against Spain and Australia looked shaky as the opposition created a lot of chances, albeit not taking them all.

Vlaar could face Javier Hernandez should Mexico decide to start the striker for the first time in the tournament. If so, then ‘Chicharito’ will be keen on showing his ability in performing against Van Gaal, who will be his manager at Manchester United next season. Hernandez's movement around the box is superb, and Vlaar will know all about that from their clashes in the Premier League. Vlaar is outstanding in the air, and so is Hernandez, and thus it will be an interesting battle to see who wins that one in the heart of the Netherlands defence.

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