Robben Van Persie Verhaegen Netherlands
Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie will be key for the Netherlands against MexicoReuters

Netherlands have been quite good at this FIFA World Cup in finding holes past teams that like to attack, with their counter-attacking style paying them rich dividends and top place in Group B. However, come Sunday, Holland will be up against a team that will not pour forward and throw caution to the win right from the word go, and finding a way past one of the best defences in the tournament, especially when they will be equipped to sit back and invite the Oranje pressure, will test this Louis Van Gaal team to the limit.

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If they can overcome this challenge, then the Netherlands will know they really are title contenders, and World Cup winning teams need to show their capabilities against all kinds of opposition.

Against Spain, when Holland pulverised the world champions, they exploited space left behind by the naïve Spain defence, while the Australia game, which they edged, was an end-to-end "you attack, then we attack" encounter.

In the final group game against Chile, who were unlucky to be knocked out in the last 16 by Brazil on Saturday, Holland sat back, invited Chile pressure, before piercing through their defences as they grew tired towards the end. Van Gaal, even if he doesn't admit it, will know Mexico will be a different proposition, but then the manager is experienced enough to find a strategy suited to his team's style of play.

"There's not such a big difference in the way that Chile plays and Mexico plays," Van Gaal hoped rather than believed. "They play according to their quality, their skills and they're very eager to win and this eagerness to win is the best part of football."

Mexico have been pretty good at this tournament, opening their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Cameroon, before holding Brazil to a goalless draw with some heroic defending and goalkeeping. They then put Croatia to the sword in their final group game to book their place in the last 16, and the Mexicans will prove to be a tough nut to crack for Holland.

"We've performed well in defense," Miguel Herrera said. "We've only conceded one goal, when we relaxed against Croatia four minutes from the end, something we can't afford to do."

Holland will use their pace going forward again, with Arjen Robben in electric form, and Mexico, despite their brilliant defending so far in the World Cup, will need to be at their absolute best to quell the Dutch wave of attacks.

The one thing that could trip Holland up, though, is the heat in Fortaleza. Mexico will have no issues with the weather and if the Dutch don't acclimatise as well as their opponents, then the Mexicans could take advantage in the closing stages of the game.

"I was here a year ago and it was hotter then. Even so, the humidity is so high, it will affect the match and that is the reason we tried to get the players to be as fit as possible," Van Gaal said.

"I'm quite conscious that it will also affect the Mexican team and I know they're much more used to it than we are."

Team news: Netherlands: Skipper Robin Van Persie returns from suspension, and the forward will no doubt look to carry his goalscoring form. Bruno Martins Indi has still not sufficiently recovered from a concussion, and Van Gaal will not take a risk with the defender. That means another game for Dirk Kuyt at left wingback. "I had a feeling before the World Cup I might get a chance to play in a defensive role," Kuyt said. "I'm happy with the way it has gone. To be able to show that you can still be important and contribute, I do willingly.

"In the training the coach asked me if I wouldn't mind playing there [left-back] if it was needed. I had wanted to suggest that idea to him before he even approached the subject.

"In training I just stayed in position and it went. You need a lot of physical prowess, capacity and ability to run. Those are qualities I think I bring to the team. And I did my defensive duties OK because we didn't concede any goals."

Mexico: Jose Juan Vasquez is suspended and experienced midfielder Carlos Salcido will replace him, Herrera confirmed. "Carlos is a player with a lot of experience," Herrera said. "Maybe he doesn't give us the intensity that Vasquez gives but he has the experience. His timing is good, his positional sense is good and he's good from dead ball situations, and that could be key."

Key men: Netherlands: Van Persie and Robben have scored three goals each in this World Cup, and the duo will be expected to be a potent force again.

Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa almost single-handedly earned two precious points for Mexico against Brazil, and the goalkeeper will, no doubt, be tested by Holland's strike force. The keeper will need to be at his best to keep the likes of Robben and Van Persie out.

Expected lineups: Netherlands: Cillessen; Janmaat, De Vrij, Vlaar, Blind, Kuyt; De Guzman, De Jong; Sneijder; Van Persie, Robben.

Mexico: Ochoa; Aguilar, Rodriguez, Marquez, Moreno, Layun; Herrera, Vasquez, Guardado; Dos Santos, Peralta.

Prediction: 2-0 to Netherlands