YEKATERINBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said he was “hurt” by his team’s defending in their 3-0 loss to Sweden on Wednesday although his disappointment was eased by qualification for the World Cup knockout stage.
Victories over Germany and South Korea had put Mexico on the edge of qualification before the match but ‘El Tri’ needed help from South Korea, who beat Germany 2-0, to book their place in the last 16 for the seventh World Cup in a row.
In his 51st game in charge of Mexico, Colombian Osorio named an unchanged side for the first time and he said he had made the wrong call against the direct style of the Swedes.
“We qualified because we beat Germany and Korea but nevertheless I am very hurt. For the first time in many, many games when we play against a team that play that approach, direct football, we had this formation,” he said.
“Usually we play three at back with a midfielder in front to protect. Today I decided to play four and we didn’t succeed in our penetration in the last third - and we allowed them to score three goals which I think is too many.
“My feelings in the last few minutes, my feelings in general, were that I wasn’t too happy with the way we defended at all,” he added.
Osorio, who has been criticized heavily in the past by Mexican media for constantly changing his line-up, indicated that he regretted not maintaining that approach.
“Today for the first time I tried to be maybe a purist, people say you should play your own game and not what the opposition dictate. We need to find a middle way - to stop opponents in the air but still play our own style,” he said.
Mexico will play the Group E winners in the next round with that opponent to be decided later on Wednesday. Brazil take on Serbia while Switzerland are up against eliminated Costa Rica.
“Every game is different, doesn’t matter who will play next, whoever it is they won’t play like Sweden so things are relative,” Osorio said.
“Sweden are very strong in the air, we will take that into account if we play that kind of opponent in the future but I don’t think our next opponents will be like that,” he added.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond