Scolari wary of ‘warriors’ Mexico

The Selecao are in for a difficult encounter, according to the coach, who insists they can cover for the loss of Hulk should the striker be unavailable for the match
By Robin Bairner in Fortaleza

Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has warned that his side are unlikely to find life easy against Mexico when they continue their World Cup campaign on Tuesday afternoon in Fortaleza.

After beating Croatia 3-1 in their opening match, the Selecao head into their next encounter as heavy favourites against opponents who needed to win a playoff against New Zealand to book their place in the finals, yet the coach is wary of the North Americans.

"The [Mexico] team are warriors," he told the press. "They are strong, skilful and well organised and they play a type football we should respect.”

Brazil have history on their side, having recorded a 2-0 in the Confederations Cup almost exactly a year ago, but Scolari still has a great deal of respect for their opponents.

"We are sure that every time we play against Mexico we have difficulties," he said. "I don’t have the statistics, but I think our records are very similar. So the match is very balanced.

"Both teams play good quality football, they pass the ball. We need to know that victory places us in a comfortable situation."

Scolari would not be drawn on the fitness of Hulk, who did not train at the Castelao, indicating instead that the forward will have a late fitness test after suffering a thigh problem in training on Sunday.

"Hulk wasn’t going to do anything here. He wasn’t going to run, he wasn’t going to participate. He’s stayed [at base] for treatment."

If the Zenit St Petersburg star does miss out, the coach is confident of replacing him with a strong option.

"The players I have have different characteristics – they have more speed, or greater marking, or different positioning.

"I’ve got 23 players, and there will be no problem if Hulk cannot play."