Club America aim to emulate Atletico Madrid style in CWC vs. Real Madrid
Club America coach Ricardo La Volpe says he plans to copy the Atletico Madrid model in Thursday's Club World Cup semifinal against Real Madrid -- and hopes to force the Champions League winners into making mistakes.
Although they have lost two Champions League finals to Los Blancos, Atleti have only lost one La Liga game in seven to their city rivals since the 2013-14 campaign.
And, La Volpe told Marca that his fellow Argentine Diego Simeone had shown with Atletico that if you squeezed the pitch and made things tight then the differences in individual talent could be minimised.
"We know all about Cristiano [Ronaldo], [Toni] Kroos, [Luka] Modric ... and I respect them," La Volpe said. "But they are human beings. The question is, as Simeone has taught us, if the spaces are reduced to just 20 metres, the technical and tactical difference is not so big.
"There can be moments of skill, yes, but many goals come more from mistakes than skill. We know who we are up against, but we will see what happens."
That did not mean, though, that America were going to sit deep and defend all game however, La Volpe added.
"I am going to respect Madrid, but we are going to try and beat Madrid and go down in Mexican football history by keeping the ball," he said.
"If I try and defend, I am going to lose 1-0 or 2-0. If I try and play some football, we will see what we are made of."
Former Argentina back-up international goalkeeper La Volpe coached Mexico's national team at the 2005 Confederations Cup, beating Brazil 1-0 in the group stage, and losing out only on penalties to Argentina in the semifinals.
"At the 2005 Confederations Cup, after playing Japan, I faced Brazil and Argentina," he said. "Brazil with Ronaldinho, Kaka ... And with all these players, it was Mexico who dominated possession. I am going to try and keep the ball from Madrid.
"We coaches are here to supply solutions. For me [Pep] Guardiola changed many things. He took back into the light and old system that had been out of date. In the '70s 4-3-3 was played. I won a World Cup in 1978, I didn't play but I have the medal and I show it to my grandkids, with a 4-3-3.
"And this system disappeared at the  World Cup in Spain, until Guardiola recovered it in 2009 -- because he had the players. That is why I say that we coaches have an influence."
Zidane had shown intelligence in how he had organised his Madrid side, La Volpe said, however his players could still out-work their higher profile opponents.
"[Zidane] is intelligent," he said. "He realised how things were. Playing with Kroos-Modric and Casemiro as a No. 5 was important to get the most out of the 4-3-3. He knows what he wants. The intelligence of the coaches is what makes the players shine. You must convince them to run, to have order, discipline ... Individualism does not win games, and jerseys neither, those days are long gone.
"Against great individuals, great collective work. If you just play one on one, I do not see my team with a chance. If my team understands collective work, doubling their efforts, more heart, more blood... we must cover for each other, make that extra effort. There is no other way."
Madrid have just set a new club record of 35 games unbeaten in all competitions, but La Volpe said Zidane's side had shown weaknesses lately and the absence of club captain Sergio Ramos could benefit his side.
"I saw Madrid at [Legia] Warsaw, and they did not look good," he said. "[Last weekend's] game against Deportivo, the same. They were losing 1-2, then came the equaliser and Ramos' goal. You say how could they end up in the same situation a week later? Ramos is a doubt? Maybe they will be thinking of the final, and they keep him back."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan