This is how Holland are meant to behave at World Cups. In contrast to the way Bert van Marwijk’s side ground their way to the final four years ago, Louis van Gaal comes to Fortaleza with a team that has scored more goals than anyone else in Brazil with three straight wins.
After missing the victory over Chile because of suspension, Robin van Persie will lead the Dutch attack in Fortaleza against a Mexico side that defended superbly to keep Brazil at bay on the same ground.
Their tactics will probably be the same as they were against the hosts. Mexico not only produced an highly-polished rearguard performance, they counter-attacked with some menace.
Nevertheless, with a prize of meeting either Costa Rica or Greece in the quarter-finals, the odds must be on the Dutch to come through. Not only have they attacked superbly but they have conceded only once in open play - Tim Cahill’s jaw-dropping strike in the 3-2 win over Australia.
“This is the proof,” said Van Gaal. “We are not giving away very much and we are always creating. As a coach it’s nice to see that producing results because, if it didn’t, you would be calling for my head to be chopped off.”
His opposite number, Miguel Herrera, described the draw with Brazil as “one of the happiest days of my life” and Mexico, who were shambolic in qualification, produced another above-par display against Croatia. They will also have some very vocal support inside the Castelao.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies