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Rockin' Robin a Dutch treat

Updated: 2014-06-29 07:48
By Reuters in Fortaleza, Brazil ( China Daily)

Robin van Persie returns to the Dutch attack to face Mexico in the second round of the World Cup on Sunday, while Mexican defender Hector Moreno will lock horns with his former mentor, Louis van Gaal.

Van Persie was suspended for the Netherlands' 2-0 win over Chile in its final group match but will be back to partner Arjen Robben in the tournament's deadliest attacking duo.

They scored three each during the group stage as the Dutch romped into the last 16 with three victories and 10 goals, more than any other team at the World Cup.

In six previous meetings, the Dutch have won three and the Mexicans two. Of the 22 goals in those matches - an average of nearly four a game - both sides scored 11, and their only previous meeting at the World Cup, in 1998, ended in a 2-2 draw.

Van Persie's return means Dirk Kuyt is likely to be relegated to the bench after starting against Chile but, if he does play, either from the outset or as a substitute, the 33-year-old will win his 100th international cap.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 20-year-old forward Memphis Depay is also likely to start on the bench, despite scoring twice in his two appearances.

"I must be realistic," Depay said at the Dutch training camp. "With incredible players like Robben and van Persie, it's logical that I sit on the bench. If you see what Robben can do with dribbling the ball, it's unbelievable."

The Mexicans are largely injury free and were impressive in the group stage, beating Croatia and Cameroon and holding Brazil to a scoreless draw in Fortaleza's Castelao arena, the setting for Sunday's showdown against the Netherlands.

Moreno played under van Gaal at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar and knows a thing or two about the talent on the Netherlands squad.

"They were young guys like me and they were just starting their careers when I was there," said Moreno, who now plays his club soccer at Espanyol in Spain.

"They've grown up under the guidance of van Gaal. With the players they have up front it's going to be a very difficult match."

Moreno said he hoped to hug the Dutch coach twice on Sunday - once before kickoff as a gesture of friendship and again after the final whistle to console him in defeat.

The winner will face either Costa Rica or Greece in the quarterfinals.

 Rockin' Robin a Dutch treat

Mexico's Javier Hernandez (left) and Arjen Robben of the Netherlands will be key figures when the teams clash on Sunday in Fortaleza. Javier Soriano / Gabriel Bouys / Agence France-Presse


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