How El Tri can beat the Dutch
RIO DE JANEIRO - Sunday in Fortaleza is completely fortified by a team that knows what it wants and how to achieve it. Rather than in the hands of fate, the future of Mexican soccer in Brazil 2014 lies in the feet and inspiration of 11 players and a coach who have the guts and ability to compete.
Beating Holland does not depend on luck, the weather or the circumstances surrounding the match. Beating the Netherlands is possible with a compact and organized team whose level of play as a group and as individuals has shown startling improvement as the World Cup has progressed.
We know it won't be easy. Nothing is easy when competing at the World Cup.
Holland is fast and displays great physical and technical prowess on the field. They have players such as Arjen Robben, who seems to be at the height of his career, and unrelenting forwards such as Robbin van Persie. The virtues of the Dutch are recognized in the history books of international football. They have brought style and conviction to the game. They have nothing to hide. They might play poorly, mediocre, well or great, but they are Dutch -- and the Dutch know how to play soccer.
But we are not going to focus on the merits of the Netherlands. This time we are going to focus on Mexico's strengths.
Miguel Herrera has a team that runs the whole length of the field, that has played faultless defense during three games and that has grown -- above all in the final match in the group stage against Croatia -- when it came time to attack. The Mexican players have kept focused, remained organized and tried to create soccer.
Add to that the essential ingredient of motivation: the group has set their sights on transcendence. The fourth game has become something of a curse for Mexican soccer over the past 20 years and five World Cups, and this team is ready to leave everything on the field in order to break that curse.
Mexican soccer is made for trials such as the one it will face this Sunday. Holland is a historic rival and is the favorite. Mexico can compete to change history. There is a lot at stake here in Fortaleza, with the fortitude necessary on the field and in the spirit to achieve it.
David Faitelson is based in Los Angeles and co-hosts "Nacion ESPN," ESPN Deportes' version of "SportsNation." Follow him on Twitter @Faitelson_ESPN.