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 By Tom Marshall

Battle of philosophies: Osorio's Mexico against Pinto's Honduras

Juan Carlos Osorio's attacking style contrasts with that of Honduras.

PHOENIX -- There is no love lost between Colombians Juan Carlos Osorio and Jorge Luis Pinto.

Mexico coach Osorio and Honduras' Pinto have never come together and clashed in the same way as Pinto has with Panama's Colombian coach Hernan "Bolillo" Gomez, for example, but when they speak about each other it is clear they don't see eye to eye on footballing matters.

Osorio's attacking philosophy contrasts with Pinto's counterattacking style, although it is Pinto who has done more on the world stage, taking Costa Rica to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2014.

Yet they also have plenty in common, aside from their homeland. Osorio's detailed methodology is laid out in his book "La Libreta de Osorio" and his knowledge of the world game is well-known, but Pinto has his own website on tactics and is an avid student of his craft.

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Neither has made it in Europe as yet and, ahead of Thursday's Gold Cup 2017 quarterfinal between Mexico and Honduras in Arizona, the two Colombians will lock horns with both feeling the criticism from their respective countries.

Here are five talking points ahead of the game:

Can Mexico start to click?

Osorio used 21 of his 23 players in the group stage and his assistant, Pompilio Paez, stated after the 2-0 win against Curacao that they have made the relevant conclusions about the squad and the best lineup moving forward.

"We now know who our most influential players are," Paez said.

Pinto said he is "absolutely sure" the base of the team that Osorio used in the 0-0 Group C game will start against Honduras on Thursday. It makes sense.

The center-back partnership of Hugo Ayala and Hedgardo Marin, with Edson Alvarez at right back and Jesus Gallardo or Luis Reyes on the left, will likely make up the defense. Holding midfielder Jesus Molina is in line to start, with Jesus Duenas and Rodolfo Pizarro in front in the center of the pitch.

In the forward line, it would be a surprise if the front three weren't Orbelin Pineda, Elias Hernandez and Erick "Cubo" Torres.

Whatever team and formation Osorio puts out, El Tri and its fans are now due a performance at this Gold Cup.

Will Corona keep his place?

Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jesus Corona was outstanding for Mexico against Curacao and would usually be in line to keep his spot. But with Osorio intent on keeping players on their toes and handing others opportunities, it isn't a guarantee.

That said, in the Confederations Cup, Guillermo Ochoa seemed to establish himself as the No. 1, starting four of Mexico's five matches. If Corona is in the starting lineup, it'll be a significant signal moving forward and very positive for the 36-year-old's chances of going to the World Cup.

Honduras will need more from Romell Quioto if it wants to get past Mexico.

Can Elis and Quioto step up to the goal-scoring plate?

"It is the only thing we've lacked," Pinto said this week. The problem is that scoring goals happens to be a pretty important thing to not be doing in football. Honduras scraped through the group stage thanks only to French Guiana fielding the ineligible Florent Malouda, giving the Central American side a 3-0 default victory.

Put simply, it's going to take a solid performance defensively, plus the likes of Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto being more productive, to get a result against Mexico.

It's not just in the Gold Cup that Honduras has had problems in the scoring department. Los Catrachos haven't netted against Mexico in 474 minutes of play, a record that will pass eight hours if Honduras can't score in the first six minutes against El Tri.

Patience key for Mexico

It would be a surprise if El Tri doesn't dominate possession against a Honduras side defending in blocks, restricting space for Mexico to operate in and trying to break up the game with tactical fouls. When they get the ball, Honduras will try to use its pace to counter.

It's not new, but this inexperienced Mexico team was caught short against a Jamaica side that was very defensive. There was a lack of penetration in the final third -- which Osorio admitted -- and the squad has been working on that in training sessions.

Variation will be required against Honduras, with Mexico needing to shoot more from outside the box, cross in from deeper and mix up its build-up when entering the final third of the pitch.

Pizarro can provide the creativity Mexico needs

Chivas' Rodolfo Pizarro is one of the Liga MX's brightest domestic young talents and has the ability to be the playmaker in this El Tri side. So far though, he hasn't done it and has been overshadowed by Orbelin Pineda and Edson Alvarez, who have been the pick of the young newcomers.

It's likely that Pizarro will start on the left of midfield against Honduras, and for a side lacking penetration, Osorio will be hoping to see a little more in the way of creativity from a player capable of unlocking defenses.

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.


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