Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio told his players to “play for the love of winning, not for the fear of losing” before their first match of the World Cup against Germany. This one motivational line must have been taken to heart, because El Tri showed no fear at all as they pulled off the biggest upset in the World Cup so far with a 1-0 win over the defending champs.
“It came in handy,” Osorio said of that pregame speech. “The players competed in a great way, we had the courage to play when we could and when it was uphill to defend it, to do it with life and I give the credit to all my players.”
Mexico were quite the underdogs when the match began, but they certainly didn’t show that on the field. They allowed Germany to play their possession based game and they simply attacked when they could. When they did get on the ball, they were quick and precise with their attacks and they managed to earn themselves a goal in the 35th minute thanks to a nice finish from Hirving Lozano.
They then proceeded to weather the German storm for the remainder of the match, and even created a few nice looks at a second goal from more well crafted counterattacks.
Osorio is getting the bulk of the credit for the win thanks to his sound tactical planning, but he deflected that praise onto who he really feels earned El Tri the victory.
“There will always be credit for the players,” Osorio said in the post match press conference. “I reiterate, to see how the players who have international experience helped the younger ones like Edson Álvarez and Jesús Gallardo, who had a great game.”
Yes, the players executed well against a superior German side. They were certainly the quicker team.One look back at the Lozano goal and it’s clear that Mexico were able to outrun a very stoic German defense.
But it was Osorio’s team selection and match planning that put them in the position to succeed. He had plenty of time to prepare for this match, and he took every hour he had available to him to form just the right tactics for the win.
“We had designed a plan for six months,” Osorio said, “because of the injuries we had to change the lineup, but the idea was always to have very fast players on the wings. Today we decided on Hirving Lozano, the fastest player we have and it is an extreme forward and a sprinter, as is the case with Miguel Layún.”
Lozano was certainly the right choice on the left wings. Had it not been for the extraordinary efforts of Guillermo Ochoa in goal, he would have been the man of the match for Mexico despite coming off in the 66th minute. He speed down the wings was unstoppable. His passing was nearly perfect going forward as well.
Not to mention he showed excellent patience and vision on his goal.
Mexico now has a leg up on their closest competition in Group F. They beat their main rival for the top spot in the group and will have relatively easier games against Sweden and South Korea to go. Osorio now has to look forward to those two games without discounting their opponents.
“Sweden is a very difficult opponent,” he said, “eliminated Argentina in 2002, not only has made great tournaments in Eurocup, but also in World Cup competitions. Now it has just left a big team like Italy outside of the World Cup. I prefer to say that we are going to recover and prepare well for the South Korea match, which will surely be difficult, so will Sweden, and we will see how far we can go.”