Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio says it would be futile to create a game plan for Sunday’s clash with Portugal that focuses only on stopping Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Gold Cup winners begin their Confederations Cup campaign against the European champions at Kazan Arena, looking to spring a first surprise of the tournament by claiming all three points.
Much of the pre-match talk has centred on Portugal star Ronaldo, whose preparations for the finals have been overshadowed by a legal complaint alleging tax fraud in Spain and a reported desire to quit Real Madrid.
Head coach Fernando Santos insisted he has total faith in his captain to deliver but Osorio feels it would be risky to ignore the other attacking talent at Portugal’s disposal.
“We’re expecting a very difficult opponent. They are the European champions and I would say that, right now, they’re one of the best teams in the world,” he told a media conference.
“However, our team is not bad either, and we really think we have a chance of winning. We’ve prepared thoroughly and we just have to expect that the players play properly and execute the game plan.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player but he’s not the only one. We think that, as a whole team, they’re excellent.
“Cristiano can play on both sides and they normally play 4-4-3 They have excellent other attackers in Nani, [Ricardo] Quarersma, [Gelson] Martins. We’ll need players to cover both sides and we’ll try to control the ball as much as possible. We have to stop them going from defence to attack because that’s one of their most effective ways of going for our goal.”
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Osorio hopes for an entertaining, attacking match in the Tatarstan capital and praised Santos for selecting arguably the strongest squad at his disposal for the tournament.
“We’re playing the champions of Europe and the world champions, the Copa America champions are in the other group. It’s very even,” he said.
“I can only tell you that with the squad Portugal brought, it’s basically the best team they could have, apart from Renato Sanches. It’s going to be very difficult.
“They’re coming here to win, which is wonderful for the tournament. You can see they are taking this very seriously. It’s the same with Chile. It’s an honour to play against the best teams in the world and that’s what Mexico really needs.
“I don’t think we’ll see a match with more defending than attacking. We believe we have a great opportunity.
“The best way to stop transitions is to defend in your own half and try to avoid that they overcome your defence. Or, we might risk a bit more and go for their goal. You’ll see what we do. Let’s hope the system works as well as possible. But yes, their transitions are very dangerous, like any team that plays with that system.”
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