Mexico won’t be going out to defend against Germany on Sunday in El Tri’s opening game of the 2018 World Cup, coach Juan Carlos Osorio says.
There has been a suggestion in the Mexican press that Osorio might temper his usual attacking, possession-based style to try to restrain the world champions, but the Colombian rejected that notion on the day before the game.
“We can compete with them,” Osorio said in the pregame news conference on Saturday. “We think we have a good chance to match up against the best team in world football and go head-to-head against them.”
“I completely believe in my players and I believe that with the midfielders we have we can dispute the possession,” added Osorio later on. “We have to respect the opponent, but … we will not change our idea of playing. We’ll always go toe-to-toe.”
Osorio hinted that Mexico’s more inexperienced players, such as left-back Jesus Gallardo, would have to deal with what promises to be an emotional challenge in front of a sell-out, 81,000-strong crowd in Moscow.
“We have to play for the love of winning and not the fear of losing,” said Osorio.
Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa said Mexico needs “cold heads” and “warm hearts” against the reigning world champions, and he believes that El Tri is ready to cause an upset.
“I see in the eyes of each player the desire to go out and get the three points,” Ochoa said. “We know they are the favorite and that, in theory, should have the upper hand, but that doesn’t change anything for us.
“We’ve been working a long time for this event and we feel ready and convinced in what we can do tomorrow.”
Ochoa knows Mexico will be well-supported by the 25,000-plus fans that have made the trip to Russia and also believes that the CONCACAF side can win over neutrals in Russia.
“I think that, without doubt, we will have a lot of Mexican fans, we know a lot have made the journey from Mexico, the United States and those in Europe,” he said. “We feel [the support] and it will be fundamental for us tomorrow.
“For those fans without a team tomorrow, I’m convinced that a lot of them will like watching the Mexican team.
“They’ll like the way it approaches games, the daring of the Mexican player and without doubt tomorrow we’ll win them over with the way we play.”