Miguel Herrera, Mexico’s charismatic manager, the man who has captivated viewers with his passionate displays on the touchline, seems wonderfully pragmatic when speaking about Sunday’s Round of 16 clash between Netherlands and Mexico.
“It seems to me that this is one of those wonderful pressures,” he said of today’s upcoming match. “You have to enjoy it, go through it, live it and enjoy it if we achieve it.”
Herrera’s attitude is all the more refreshing when you consider Mexico’s recent history in the first stage of the knockout rounds. The last time Mexico made the final eight was in 1986, when the tournament was played on their own soil. After being banned from the 1990 World Cup, Mexico has successfully reached the knockout phase in the last six tournaments…only to bow out each time.
Of course, many thought Mexico might not even make it to Brazil this time around. El Tri only secured their playoff against New Zealand thanks to a wonderful bit of irony, with the U.S. scoring late against Panama to put Mexico through.
Under Herrera, though, the team have very nearly undergone a renaissance – even Javier Hernández is scoring goals once more. But Mexico’s spine has been realigned, with the vast majority of the team hailing from the domestic league. Herrera has created a cohesive unit, and its strength is perhaps explained in the manager’s own description of his team’s style:
I have my own [style] that has given me good results. The screams on the bench, everything that we live, what we have on the bench with the boys. That is why the boys have that attitude, the running, the fighting, the will to do things.
Of course, some would say that Holland, too, has their own attitude. Which will prevail today?