Samara (Russia): Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio believes the way to take on Brazil, whom he labelled the “best team in the world”, in the last 16 of the World Cup is for his side to adhere to their attacking philosophy.
The two nations meet in Samara on Monday with Mexico looking to replicate the performance that saw them defeat holders Germany in the group stage.
However, they will be up against a team with an embarrassment of riches, including Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Thiago Silva and Gabriel Jesus.
“Brazil is a great team. I would go as far as to say it is the best team in the world,” Osorio told reporters on Sunday.
“Each and every one of their players can control the ball and pass the ball very well. They behave like a unit. This will be a great opportunity for Mexican football to face the best team on the planet and we will have to play to our full potential.”
Osorio believes the best way to counter the Brazilian threat is through Mexico’s own offensive tactics.
“I think that defending with an odd number of defenders and wing backs is an option but our footballing style has to do more with creating defensive problems in the opposition line,” he said.
“So we never give up on attacking. Regardless of the structure we will have tomorrow we will always have a line-up with five attacking players. Or four pure attackers and two false nines like Hector (Herrera). All our midfield players are capable of attacking and creating opportunities.”
Midfielder Herrera is one of a number of Mexican players who were in the team that beat a Brazil side containing Neymar and Silva in the final to win gold at the 2012 Olympics.
He said he had fond memories of that tournament but was now dreaming of winning the World Cup.
“If we want to be able to dream about winning the World Cup we have to be able to beat any opponent,” said the Porto player.
“For me personally I have complete faith in myself and my team mates. We will need to play an amazing game tomorrow and continue to live the dream.”
Osorio spoke passionately about the nature of soccer always giving the underdogs a chance in any game, no matter how illustrious the opponents.
He will be hoping his eloquent vision comes to fruition against five-times World Cup winners Brazil on Monday.
“Soccer as a game always gives you an opportunity to win. Collectively, it is the sport that gives the team with less history a chance because of the low scoring,” said Osorio.
“It is not basketball or rugby or baseball because their scores are so high you can always anticipate who is the winner.
“In soccer, you just need to score one and then defend and with that goal you can win. Football gives this type of surprise to people who don’t understand it.
“The winning attitude of anyone can be decisive and win games.
* Brazil have not lost in their last 15 competitive matches.
* Mexico have won seven of their last 15 matches against Brazil stretching back to 1999, losing just five times.
* Neymar has attempted more dribbles than anyone else in Russia with 42, 14 more than nearest rival Lionel Messi.
* Neymar has had 18 ‘goal opportunities’, more than anyone else at the tournament.
* Brazil have had 56 shots in their three games, the highest of the teams left in the tournament. Mexico have had 44 shots.
* Brazil have attempted 1,884 passes at the tournament, 631 more than Mexico.
* In terms of distance covered, only Panama have run less than Mexico (297.66km) at the tournament. Brazil have collectively run 313.04km.
* Out of the teams left in the tournament, only Spain have had possession of the ball for longer than Brazil (111 minutes and 04 seconds). Mexico have had possession for 88 minutes, 30 seconds.
* Mexico’s Hector Moreno is suspended after picking up two bookings in the group stage.
* Three Brazil players (Philippe Coutinho, Casemiro, Neymar) and three Mexico players (Hector Herrera, Miguel Layun, Jesus Gallardo) are one booking away from a one-match ban.
Brazil and Mexico have played each other 40 times, with Brazil winning on 23 occasions and Mexico 10. They have met four times in the World Cup with Brazil winning the first three encounters. They drew 0-0 in the group stage of the 2014 tournament.