Having already booked their place in the Round of 16 here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2011, hosts Mexico are looking to make sure of top spot in Group A when they take on a struggling Netherlands side in Monterrey. For the reigning European U-17 champions, anything but a win will usher them to the exit door.
After outplaying their opponents in their opening two games, Mexico are certainly not flattered by their six-point tally so far. However, given the similarities between their style of play and that of the Netherlands, the Oranje are sure to provide a tricky test for El Tri, who are aiming to nail down first place in the section. Yet the question remains whether hosts’ coach Raul Gutierrez will play his strongest side or rest key men ahead of the rigours of the knockout phase.
The Netherlands find themselves in a quite different position, needing to take all three points and hope it proves enough to edge them into the last 16. Having enjoyed possession aplenty in their first two group games but scored just once, can the Dutch find their shooting boots in time for Friday’s encounter?
4 – The number of goals Mexico put past the Netherlands in the semi-finals of Peru 2005, the sides’ only previous FIFA U-17 World Cup meeting. On 29 September that year in Chiclayo, eventual winners El Tri won 4-0 to progress to the final thanks to goals from Hector Moreno, Ever Guzman and a brace by Cesar Villaluz.
“Their results have surprised us, but the Dutch are still the European champions. They’re a different kind of team to the ones we’ve faced so far, they’ve similar characteristics to ours and it’s always easier taking on opponents that are willing to have a go. They have to go out looking for a result and we need to use our intelligence to exploit that,” Mexico defender Carlos Guzman.
“Mexico have a similar style to ours, which could make it a good game. But we’re not feeling under any extra pressure because of only having one point so far, because when we came here our aim was to win all three games. The situation is simple: we have to score one more goal than them and see if it’s enough,” Netherlands coach Albert Stuivenberg.