Scolari: Mexico always a complex rival
FORTALEZA, Brazil -- Luiz Felipe Scolari said no matter who is coaching Mexico, they are always a "complex" rival for Brazil.
"Mexico are a very ordered team, they work well on the pitch, they like to possess the ball and they move it very well, they take the lead and they have speed, a great dynamic," he said during a news conference at Arena Castelao on Monday ahead of their Tuesday Group A match at 3 p.m. ET. "But most of all they are all warriors, authentic warriors."
Scolari said that the wound from the 2012 Olympics in London has still not healed for Brazil. Underdog Mexico beat Brazil 2-1 in the final of the Olympics at Wembley for El Tri's first major international football trophy.
"We have shown that we always have trouble with Mexico," Scolari said. "I don't have the statistics, but I think [the two teams] are very equal, very balanced. We will have to have ball possession and be very careful."
Brazil have already to some extent avenged the loss at the Olympics by beating Mexico 2-0 in last year's Confederations Cup group stage, also played in Fortaleza, with Neymar turning in one of his most impressive performances at the international level.
"I remember when we played them at Confederations Cup," Scolari said. "Today we have a team that is much improved, and each day we get a little bit better but we have to impose to beat Mexico, which, with all due respect to the Mexicans, is our objective."
Scolari said his staff has done its job in scouting El Tri, adding that he is aware that they are on their third coach and that they played the 4-4-2 before but have now switched to a 5-3-2.
"I don't know their coach [Miguel Herrera], I have never spent time with him, but I do know that he is a great motivator and that he works a lot in the tactical aspects with his team and that of the adversary," Scolari said. "I know he has changed their style of play and that there have been games in which, under him, Mexico have looked very good.
"We are aware of the changes and the evolution of the Mexican team. They have changed coaches four times en route to this World Cup. We know they have changed some players, but they don't change. What they change is their positioning on the pitch and the roles they assign. It is a different team but we shall see whether it is better. The truth is that in a match of 90 minutes, anything can happen."
Regarding Hulk's injury, Scolari reiterated that it will be a match-time decision.
"I won't have any trouble choosing -- there are good options at hand," he said, admitting that changes are necessary.
"Without Hulk, I will lose our game system that he knows very well. He knows what we need to the left and to the right because he is a player that gives us what we need," Scolari said. "But all the substitute options that we have can offer quality and different variables."
Miguel Herrera, meanwhile, said that his current team includes 10 of the players who were on the 2012 Olympics gold medal-winning team, in addition to several under-17 world champion players.
"We are going to go out to attack. We are going to attack Brazil, because defending won't be a very good option," Herrera said, adding this was also his goal against Cameroon. "And Tuesday we will do the same thing. It will be like a final because they are going to come out strong."
Herrera also cautioned Brazil that El Tri is not underestimating Dani Alves.
"You can't really diss out a player that has won everything with Barcelona," he said. "Alves is a fabulous player and a Seleção starter. But we will have to attack Brazil if we want to get anything out of this match and exploiting the wings is something we are planning to do."
Herrera said he is unlikely to make room for Manchester United striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez in a lineup that won their opening match.
Hernandez came on in the 74th minute against Cameroon, replacing goal scorer Oribe Peralta in the 1-0 victory in Group A. Herrera described Hernandez as a valuable player on the bench, saying he was pleased with the first match's lineup.
"People can get heated up because they want to see Javier on the pitch, but they also understand that we need to use the best 11 at our disposal,'' he said on Monday. "[Hernandez] has had a difficult season ... and he had a wonderful game when he came on. He gives us options.''
Showing little sign of frustration, Hernandez said Mexico should play to win, without reservation.
"If you aspire to do great things, you have to beat the best,'' he said. "We know the pressure is on them and that could serve us well because they are a great team.''