Gustavo Matosas knows Mexican football well - very well in fact. The Uruguayan has two Liga MX titles with Leon and also win the 2014-15 Concacaf Champions League at the helm of Club America.
Yet when Matosas enters the technical area of NRG Stadium on Saturday, coaching Costa Rica in a Gold Cup quarterfinal against Mexico, he won't be all that different from any other manager trying to knock off El Tri by outsmarting current coach Tata Martino.
"I don’t think it’s an advantage," Matosas said at a pre-match news conference Friday. "There are a lot of new players and the manager’s style is always going to change. I think when (Juan Carlos) Osorio was there, I knew a bit more. Now Martino it’s just what I’ve seen.
"I don’t think knowing the players has a lot do with it. What it does have to do with, for me, from my point of view, is all the years I lived in Mexico I learned the characteristics of the Mexican player. This could be an advantage. But, beyond that, a lot of times you know what a player can do but you can’t stop him."
With players like forward Raul Jimenez, attacker Rodolfo Pizarro and midfielder Andres Guardado in his ranks, Martino has a number of players who can prove difficult to stop even if the opposing players have seen plenty of tape. Matosas personally coached right back Fernando Navarro, whose current Leon teammate Joel Campbell is on the Costa Rica squad.
In today's modern game, Martino said, managers and players can find information and video clips on nearly any opponent they're likely to face - negating any advantage Matosas may have had.
"What I think is today with all the ways us managers have to have news, knowledge of future opponents, to have managed in the country you’re playing is really relative," Martino said. "I think we all have the chance to know future opponents in detail, both at the collective and individual level."
Martino said he was a bit surprised to see Matosas' side so early in the tournament but considered the Ticos one of the candidates to lift the Gold Cup. It would be the first-ever title for the Central Americans.
The two teams meet at 9:30 p.m. ET with the winner moving on to the semifinal in Phoenix.