SAO PAULO -- Mexico national team coach Miguel Herrera insists El Tri won't play for a draw against Croatia in Recife on Monday, the final day of first-round Group A play.
Mathematics be damned.
Mexico can advance to the second round for a sixth consecutive World Cup by picking up one point for a draw while Croatia needs a victory to advance.
"We're not going to think about a tie," Herrera said. "Our intentions are to win. If you think going into the game you're going to tie, you're most likely just going to lose."
Brazil (1-0-1) starts the day atop Group A with four points. Mexico (1-0-1) also has four points but the Brazilians lead on the first tie-breaker, goal differential (+2 to +1). Croatia (1-1-0) has three points with Cameroon (0-2-0), Brazil's opponent Monday in Brasilia, stuck at 0.
"The match with Mexico will be like a final," Croatia coach Niko Kovac said.
Especially for the Croatians who will have to take the game to Mexico, exposing, Herrera and El Tri hope, gaps that Mexico can take advantage of.
"Croatia has to win," Herrera said. "So we're going to go out there and defend and take advantage of the spaces that they're going to leave open because they're attacking.
"If we tie, then great, we advance. But the idea is to look for a win. The guys know that they can squander the great things that they've been doing in this World Cup if they don't play to win on Monday. So we're going to continue to be intense, be a team that's giving its all, be more attentive, be sure with the ball."
It's a strategy that so far has worked for a Mexico side, which after knocking off Cameroon, 1-0, stunned the World Cup and tournament favorite Brazil with a 0-0 draw last week in Fortaleza. Led by captain Rafael Marquez in the center of a five-man back line and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who produced against Brazil one of the greatest goalkeeping performances in World Cup history, Mexico is one of only two teams in the tournament that is yet to give up a goal.
"We won't change our system," Marquez said. "Keeping clean sheets has been key for us and we're determined to keep that going."
A Mexico clean sheet at Arena Pernambuco will secure a spot in the tournament's final 16 for an El Tri side with ambitions of playing well into July.
"If you take a look at the quality of the teams we've faced, it shows how difficult and tough a task we've had," Marquez said. "And though we're not there yet, we're close to taking an important step."
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