Every episode has officially dropped in the Al Grito de Guerra series and we now move to Mexico’s rivalry with the most successful team in World football, the 5-time World Champions Brazil. While the documentary shows the real importance of the rivalry, the fact that it’s also the nation where the 2014 World Cup was played means that the episode serves as the basis to talk about the competition and is the least specific of all episodes so far in terms of the rival.
Mexico’s “rivalry” with the biggest team in the world in Brazil has very different realities than others. The documentary starts with the fact that it’s the most popular team of all of our rivals. Brazil has always had great popularity in Mexico and a good “friendship” with their fans. Many Mexicans root for Brazil once Mexico is out and I have to confess that I’m part of that group.
The Documentary then starts to talk about the greatest victory in Mexico’s history (and for me the best moment ever in a stadium and which will remain so till I die) with the win in the 1999 Confederations Cup final. It’s a good moment to mark as it was the match that changed things, as Mexico got a streak of positive results against the best of the best. It then goes to the 2005 U17 World Cup final where a good team conditioning had them get to the competition and shock the world, giving Mexico their first ever World Cup in a youth organization. The trifecta ends with Mexico going to the Olympic Gold Medal championship match and winning the Gold medal, the best result in the history of youth competitions and an overall great result. That being said, I think that it was incredible that those three great results end up with only 10 minutes of the 50 minute run, although some things are understandable as not having any game footage of the Olympic medal (as a person whose Todos los Goles video of the 2012 Olympics was striken down twice in Youtube to the point I had to delete it). Still, while it was a nice way to start, I wish they would have expanded on the 1999 tournament especially, which is iconic.
Brazil’s starts the first take in the series of the 2014 World Cup. They explain the terrible results that saw Mexico qualify to the CONCACAF/OFC WC playoff, and only because the United States defeated Panama in the dying minutes. Then, Miguel Herrera took the helm and crushed New Zealand to get to the World Cup, only to get a tough group along with the host. The documentary then does a great focus on the goalkeeper job that still is controversial to some as Guillermo Ochoa wasn’t the regular starter. The regular was Jesus Corona and he was beloved by certain Mexican press. Herrera tells a great story about how Ochoa and Corona were fighting at the time and he had to get in between and scold both players about how he was the coach, ending the disagreement. The 2014 competition started with the rain soaked match against Cameroon. Two blown offside goals (which to me would always be my main reason to defend VAR) hurt the team but Mexico got the goal and the victory. And it was off to face Brazil... in Brazil.
The big stage against Brazil was set. Mexico faced the hosts whose fans already knew Mexico were a tough rival for them (I will never forget that on the day of the draw, they interviewed fans in Brazil and one said Brazil wasn’t going to beat Mexico). The match starts and of course Ochoa and Rafael Marquez had to talk about the SAVE. There were few tidbits on the match and they have Scolari and others talking about how Ochoa had done a formidable job, as well as how the team had gotten a great result. Mexico was going for it all against Croatia, a side that in four years would get to the World Cup final. Luka Modric and Niko Kova’s comments before the match were a boost according to the words of Oribe Peralta. The players used it to give one of the best performances in their history (Andres Guardado celebrated his goal by pointing to his legs). Mexico got a 3-1 victory and got to the Round of 16.
The match against the Netherlands was next and once again in the Round of 16, Mexico would end their participation in the World Cup. Mexico were hopeful and confident, although Herrera mentions they were missing Jose Javier Vasquez, who was suspended for having 2 yellow cards. Hector Moreno’s injury and Giovani Dos Santos’ goal had Mexico close to getting the win, but then came the controversial subbing out of Dos Santos, considering Mexico was said to be losing steam. Then came the corner kick and the tying goal (without mentioning the fact about how Javier Aquino came into the match to defend and left a wide open Wesley Sneijder to score). The controversial PK match and the debate that will forever remain (my take is it wasn’t but Mexico had committed a PK in the play where Moreno was injured and it wasn’t called). The PK was converted and once again a terrible moment in Mexican football. 2014 was the best performance in my opinion since 1998, where we also had a similar devastating result against Germany, and by the same score.
Off to Russia in 2018 and the documentary starts talking about South Korea and the victory. Because the Germany documentary ended with the Germany win, this time it talks about the rest of the competition. Thus, it’s a great chance to finally take on the Sweden match and how Mexico still needed a result even when they sat with 6 points. Guardado tells about how Mexico had changed plans and the team wasn’t confident, which ended with Osorio asking for forgiveness for his mistakes. Brazil was on the path and this time, it wasn’t as other performances. Brazil came in with a better team. Some good tidbits about why Mexico does well against Brazil and how this time Mexico could only contain them. Mexico lost again and it’s clear that although El Tri tried, Brazil were just too good. Some trivial thoughts about the win from fans and players without making the point that Mexico don’t have the players or do the work to be the best.
End Spoiler Alert
The title of the episode that translates to rival in the Amazon, clearly serves its mission. It serves to explain that while the Brazil matches are clear, it also talks about the 2014 competition just as much. Thus, it feels the least talked about in terms of rival, to the point where it looks like it’s missing a lot (it might have been nice to have some mention of the matches prior to 1999). But as the site of the 2014 edition, it serves well in explaining all the interesting moments from one of the best participations in the final competition (in my opinion, along with 1998, the best ever in a World Cup outside Mexico). The last Brazil match also serves well the 2018 World Cup although I kind of expected a few more stories on that edition. It might have been better to close out with Ramon Raya, who wasn’t as vocal this time as past episodes, and yet it was a very good performance and I though it improved from Episode 3. Now, it’s time to face Argentina, an episode which is set to have a lot less good memories from a Mexican perspective.