SAMARA, Russia - Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio believes an unfettered attacking approach can help El Tri end a double hoodoo by beating Brazil on Monday to advance to their first World Cup quarter-finals.
And if he gets a helping hand from Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi when it comes to monitoring Brazil star Neymar, Mexico's Colombian coach would not say no. "I just hope for the benefit of the game and fair play that there will be good officiating," Osorio said when asked about the Brazilian star's much-criticised antics in the group phase.
If Mexico play to their potential, they might not need help from the match officials to beat Brazil for the first time and qualify for their first quarter-final after failing in their past six attempts. After sparking Germany's humiliating World Cup exit by beating the defending champions 1-0 in their opener, Mexico are now threatening Brazil's bid for a sixth World Cup.
Osorio's men may have finished their group campaign with a 3-0 defeat to Sweden (which cost them top spot) but their performances throughout, including a 2-1 defeat of South Korea, have been convincing and strikers Hirving Lozano and Javier Hernandez have shone. The latter has dyed his hair white for the game.
As well as a firm belief in his players' determination to cause another World Cup upset, Osorio promised an all-out attacking approach against a team he rates as the best in the tournament. "Brazil is a great team, I'd even go so far as to say they're the best team in the world, and that's because every one of their players can play and pass the ball," said Osorio.
"They have players who can finish, play around the area and they have three free kick specialists, as well as defenders who are tall and can defend well. But we won't sit back and wait, Brazil’s attackers are too good for that to be the right plan. We will try to keep possession, we have midfielders who are very skilled. It will be very tough, but we'll try to do so. And we will stick to our idea of having at least four or five attacking players."
Osorio, who spent several years as conditioning coach at current English Premier League champions Manchester City, said he was not concerned about past history and the central Americans' recent inability to reach the last eight. "We don't talk about that to our players. We spoke about the possibility of coming up against Brazil a few months ago, and here we are," he added.
FC Porto midfielder Hector Herrera said: "We're motivated by this great opportunity to play against one of the best teams on the planet. I think if we want to dream of winning the World Cup, we have to be beat any opponent."
Osorio added: "Football is a game that always gives you an opportunity to win, unlike rugby, baseball or basketball. Football is different. The winning attitude of any team can, on the day, beat any team and win games."