Idea man Juan Carlos Osorio's FIFA World Cup experiment with Mexico

Osorio, who previously coached Brazilian club Sao Paulo, has been criticized as unorthodox to the point of stubbornness.

Published: 31st May 2018 12:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st May 2018 12:35 PM   |  A+A-

Mexico gaffer Juan Carlos Osorio (File | AP)


MEXICO CITY: Juan Carlos Osorio is not a big believer in the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The man leading Mexico to their 16th World Cup appearance has used a different starting line-up in every one of the 46 matches in which he has coached the team since taking the job in October 2015.

A brash basher of orthodoxy, he has kept up his tinkering despite the fact that he has delivered solid results: 30 wins, nine draws and seven losses.

Thanks to that record, Mexico finished first in CONCACAF qualifying and booked their tickets to Russia with three matches to spare.

Osorio, an avid tactician, is known for going over each match in fine detail in post-match press conferences, lacing his minute analyses with jargon and statistics.

"In the 2014 World Cup, aerial play yielded 36 percent of all goals, so we opted for an aerially dominant defensive midfielder," he said recently in explaining his eyebrow-raising choice of Jesus Molina of Monterrey over Jose Juan Vazquez of Santos Laguna for his World Cup squad.

The 56-year-old Colombian is a fearless experimenter, sometimes changing the dimensions of his training pitch or delving into elaborate hypotheticals to teach his players to perceive the game differently.

Osorio, who previously coached Brazilian club Sao Paulo, has been criticized as unorthodox to the point of stubbornness.

But he has also won fans with his conviction that Mexico are a match for the world's best teams.

It is a welcome message for a country that has brushed football greatness -- Olympic gold, a Confederations Cup title and 10 regional championships -- but never made it past the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

"Since he arrived, he's made us feel like we're very good," Real Betis midfielder Andres Guardado said recently.

But, he added, "there have been matches when our sin was believing we were even better."


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