Juan Carlos Osorio says his Mexico team was able to take Germany by surprise at the 2018 World Cup, with the then-reigning world champions not familiar enough with El Tri to counteract their game plan.
A goal from Hirving Lozano in the 35th minute gave Mexico a 1-0 win to kick off Group F, though Mexico later slipped to a second-place finish and fell to Brazil in the last 16.
Now the manager of Atletico Nacional in his native Colombia, Osorio was asked about his habit for wearing shirts with a motivational message printed on them, including one currently in the rotation that reads "It’s unlikely to win if we don’t accept the possibility of losing."
“Originally, I designed it in Mexico," he told Win TV. I" remember that in an opportunity before the World Cup, they invited me and basically the interviews were forcing me to say that Mexico was going to lose against Germany and that was normal.I said 'no'.
"In the commercial break I said, ‘Look, if your goal was to bring me in for this, I’m just going to go now, but I’m convinced that if we don’t try to win and accept the possibility to lose, it’s unlikely to win.’ That’s why we have this phrase, which I defend to the death,".
Ahead of the loss to Brazil, Osorio wore a shirt with another of his famous messages, "You have to play for the love of winning and not the fear of losing," something he felt resonated during the group stage.
The meticulous manager, who left Mexico after the World Cup and was replaced by Tata Martino, often crafted intense game plans focusing on the individuals who would line up for the other team.
That, he feels, was the edge in the tournament-opening victory against the Germans.
"I’m convinced that against Germany we were able to win for a simple reason, which is that Germany didn’t have the slightest idea how we were going to play," Osorio said.
"Joachim Low isn’t going to worry about Mexico, and even less about Osorio, but Osorio did worry about all of Germany, about Joachim Low and knows exactly how they play and how they were trying to play depending on the players they put on the field."
After leaving Mexico, Osorio briefly took over Paraguay's national team but left by mutual consent after just one match.
He now enters his second tournament in charge of Nacional, with Los Verdolagas the only team in the league to have two wins from the first two matches of the year.
Martino's Mexico lost just once in 2019, falling 4-0 to Argentina in a September friendly. It begins its 2020 slate with March friendlies against the Czech Republic and Greece.