FIFA World Cup 2018: Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio tactics leave Germany licking their wounds
Life as Mexico’s head coach has been a mixed bag for Juan Carlos Osorio. The former assistant to Stuart Pearce at Manchester City wasn’t a popular appointment when he replaced Miguel Herrera at the helm in 2015.
Osorio’s habit of rotating his line-ups and trying out new combinations wasn’t well-received in Mexico. Things came to a head in 2016 when Mexico were humiliated 7-0 by Chile in the Copa America, leading to calls for his exit.
Osorio survived. He subsequently helped Mexico comfortably seal World Cup qualification. That didn’t ease the pressure on him though.
However, Osorio felt vindicated by his experiments with the team over the last couple of years following Mexico’s stunning 1-0 victory over Germany on Sunday.
“I told them to play with the love of winning and not the fear of losing,” he said. “They competed very well and they defended the lead with their lives.”
Explaining his tactics against Germany and his approach for this campaign, the Colombian said: “We started planning six months back. We had to change a few parts because of injuries but the idea was to use players who are fast on the flanks.”
Osorio used his star Hirving Lozano to devastating effect. With the Germany right back Joshua Kimmich often charging forward and leaving space at the back, Mexico constantly attacked through their left flank. Lozano and Javier Hernandez used their pace to disturb Germany’s cohesion at the back.
Germany coach Joaquim Loew had on the eve of the game expressed concern over Lozano, the PSV Eindhoven forward, yet there was a sense of helplessness as Germany weathered the counters.
With the German midfield pressed high by Mexico and Hernandez’s clever movements off the ball aiding Lozano’s darting runs on the left, the holders had to deal with a barrage of breaks.
It would be interesting to see how Mexico play against South Korea and a defensive Sweden, but against stronger teams, Osorio’s Mexico will be happy to chase the ball confident in their ability on the break.
Germany on unfamiliar turf
Die Mannschaft have lost their opening World Cup game for the first time since Algeria stunned them in 1982.
“It’s a situation we’re not used to at all. This is a situation we have to accept; of course, there can be obstacles to overcome. In the next match, we have to be much better,” Loew said.
Germany had 26 shots, nine on target, as opposed to Mexico’s 13, with four on target. Yet, the only time they came close to scoring was immediately after Mexico’s goal, when Guillermo Ochoa pulled off a fingertip save off a Toni Kroos free kick.
“We gave the ball away a lot and our build-up play wasn’t at the level the team and I expect. Mexico sat deep after the break and they’re incredibly quick on the counter and we had to do a lot of chasing back,” Loew said.
Germany now face the prospect of not winning the group. If they finish second and Brazil win their group, the 2002 World Cup finalists, and 2014 semi-finalists will face off in the Round of 16.
Loew’s focus, however, will be to first beat Sweden and South Korea and reach the last 16.
“Psychologically, everyone is unhappy and crestfallen but we have to put this behind us. Our next match (against Sweden) will be decisive for us; we have to win it.”
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