FORTALEZA

The Netherlands coasted into the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup in ominous fashion but Mexico are plotting to halt their charge on Sunday. Louis van Gaal's side made light work of topping Group B - billed as the 'group of death' - ahead of Chile, as world champions Spain and Australia crashed out. The Netherlands were beaten by Spain in the World Cup final in South Africa four years ago, but have looked more than capable of putting that disappointment behind them in Brazil.

Van Gaal's men were the leading scorers in the group stage, registering 10 goals as they won all three of their matches. A 5-1 hammering of Spain provided the undoubted highlight, and the Dutch will start as favourites to see off Mexico in Fortaleza. Mexico displayed defensive strength to finish second behind Brazil in Group A, conceding just one goal in three matches and holding the hosts to a goalless draw.

However, their resilience is set to be put to the test by in-form Netherlands forwards Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, who have scored three goals apiece so far. Van Persie will return from suspension to lead the line this weekend, a boost to a Dutch side that has looked dangerous on the break and ruthless in the final third. Although Van Gaal's men have impressed, appearing easier on the eye than the efficient team Bert van Marwijk guided to the final four years ago, Mexico remain confident of reaching a World Cup quarter-final on foreign soil for the first time.

Remarkably, Mexico have been knocked out at the last-16 stage in the last five World Cups. Yet midfielder Andres Guardado.has warned the Netherlands that he and his team-mates will not just be there to make up the numbers. He told FIFA.com: "Yes, it's going to be a tough match,” "We've already played three difficult games, particularly against Brazil, another one of the favourites. But we're not going to lower our expectations – we're still hoping to make Mexican football history. We're honestly not afraid of anything, we're happy to take on anyone and fully expect to come away with the win,”

"We're going to go toe-to-toe (with the Netherlands), we're going to make their life difficult and prove to them that Mexico are no pushovers. We'll be gunning for a place in the next round, that's what we all really want."

Meanwhile, after ending an 11-game international goal drought, Manchester United's Javier Hernandez is aiming to oust his new club boss Louis van Gaal when Mexico meet Netherlands in the World Cup last 16. "This whole year has been very tough. Players need confidence more than anything else and I've been very short of it. Very few people have shown faith in me over this past year," said the 26-year-old speaking of his more than a year without a goal for Mexico.

Hernandez, who is known as 'Chicharito' (Little Pea), was left in tears after heading his side's third goal in a 3-1 win over Croatia on Monday which sealed their place in the knockout stages for a sixth straight World Cup. The tough year has seen several reports that Hernandez could leave his English club side Manchester United where Dutch coach van Gaal will take over after the World Cup.

Hernandez's return to scoring form is another boost for a Mexico side that has gone from strength to strength since the appointment of coach Miguel Herrera last year. "We have to stay very calm, very humble and not get carried away," said Hernandez. "This is just one more step forward, a very important one, but just one more step. If we want to make history we have to beat the Netherlands and keep moving along the path we've set out for ourselves."