The fifth episode of Al Grito de Guerra talks about the lopsided rivalry against powerhouse Argentina. The South American giants have become Mexico’s most prominent nemesis and the doc shows the tough elimination from the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and although Mexico played well and gave some great performances, the result was the same in the end. It’s another bitter ending as Mexico is set to meet them again in 2022, this time in the group stage.
The episode begins with the story about the historic change in Argentinean nationals in the 1970s, with the rise of the Military junta in Argentina. It’s a very important point about the influence of Argentina in Mexican football because of the numerous Argentinean players who have played in Mexico up to this day. The documentary then introduces one of the biggest Argentinean figures in Mexican football, Ricardo Antonio Lavolpe. Lavolpe first made history in Atlante, followed by Atlas, and his attractive style of play led him to become the coach of the Mexican National Team in 2003. The documentary then travels to the 2004 Copa America followed by the 2005 Confederations Cup. There they would face Argentina in the Semifinals (after defeating Brazil in the Group stage in a result that the documentary unfortunately skips over). Mexico would play a great game and take the lead on a Carlos Salcido goal, but would get tied up, forcing a PK shootout where Argentina would prevail.
More of Lavolpe’s tenure is covered, including their easy qualifier to the 2006 World Cup, as Lavolpe had stated it would be, something that isn’t normal, although it has happened the last two World Cup campaigns (2018 and 2022). It then takes on Rafael Marquez and how he became the best Mexican defender, along with Cuauhtemoc Blanco’s controversial snubbing (something that has become bigger than it was in 2006). Various conspiracies have talked about players in the locker room asking for his banning to Lavolpe staying mad at a Blanco celebration while with America when he coached Atlas.
To the surprise of many, Mexico were a top seed for the 2006 World Cup and got an “easier” group along with Portugal, Angola and Iran. The tragic story of how starting goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez lost his father a week prior to the competition is mentioned. In the cup’s first match, Mexico had their best performance in the group stage and got a solid 3-1 victory to start the tournament, although unfortunately for them, it would be their only one. Mexico would then face Angola in what many people expected to be the easiest match, but the Africans defended well and it ended in a scoreless tie. The last match was against an already qualified Portugal, and the Europeans got the victory with Omar Bravo missing a PK that would have given them the tie.
The Round of 16 match against Argentina had been well planned by Lavolpe, and the team had a clear vision on how to counter them in their 3rd straight meeting in an official tournament. Among the tidbits was how Mexico had the plan to stop their exits according to Pavel Pardo. The early goal by Mexico looked to have helped them, but that lead was short-lived after a Borgetti mistake on a corner kick where Hernan Crespo got his boot in front of him. It’s strange how Javier Mascherano mentions that the injury to Pavel Pardo helped them more so than a bad call that favored Gabriel Heinze on a foul he committed on Francisco Fonseca after he stole a ball and got fouled, but only a yellow was given. The match continued until the great goal by Maxi Rodriguez finally settled things. It was Mexico’s best match (although I think Argentina’s was even better), but once again Mexico went out.
After that, the documentary talks about the 2010 process because it also ended with Argentina. Hugo Sanchez became the coach and there’s an explanation of how badly the relationship with Hugo and Lavolpe was. The 2007 Copa America is shown as it was a great tournament in which Mexico ended 3rd place, one of the most remembered Copa Americas still today. Yet Hugo was also in command of the U23 team, and with a very solid squad failed to qualify for the Olympic Games and would cost him the job. Mexico would then go for a high profile coach in Sven Goran Eriksson, but was a huge failure. His firing led to Javier Aguirre’s 2nd term and he would remain in the position until the end of the 2010 World Cup.
In the 2010 World Cup, Mexico got to play the opening match against the hosts. The situation Guillermo Ochoa’s benching in favor of Oscar Perez is mentioned. Aguirre explains his decision alluding to the fact he had played with him before, in what I think is a poor excuse for a decision that was the wrong one to me. The opening match had South Africa taking the lead and playing better than expected, but a goal from Rafael Marquez was able to secure the tie. Then, Mexico played the most important match overall against France. El Tri gave a great performance and in the second half, Javier Hernandez got subbed in and the story of how he scored a goal against France, emulating his grandfather, is recalled. The win was the best moment for Mexico in the cup. They closed out the group sage with a loss against Uruguay that isn’t talked much about, but that hurt Mexico in not only having to face Argentina, but losing out the golden path that Uruguay rode to a World Cup semifinal.
The match against Argentina starts with the infamous press conference where Aguirre looked in a bad mood and defeated. Aguirre confesses that he was tired of the negativity surrounding the match. Marquez admits it wasn’t a good morale boost for the team. Mexico started out playing well up until the notorious goal that was scored by Carlos Tevez in a clear offside. The players are incensed and that increased when the play was shown on the stadium screen. That goal had such an influence to the point it really killed the match in my opinion, as minutes later, Ricardo Osorio gifted the ball to Gonzalo Higuain for the 2-0. Mexico eventually lost and it was another match where Argentina defeated us. The documentary closes out in the talks about how Argentina has dominated Mexico in terms of results and how there will be another clash in the 2022 World Cup.
End Spoiler Alert
Argentina has taken the place of Germany as Mexico’s worst nemesis, and it’s even increased because of cultural and language reasons, as there are many more interactions between Mexican and Argentinean fans. While it’s true Argentina has had a bigger impact than the other countries touched upon so far in the series because of the constant influx of players from Argentina in Liga MX (which could have been mentioned a little more in the doc), the recent actions have turned it a little sour. Still, the documentary did a good job with more interviews from Argentina (probably because of the involvement of Argentinean journalist Alejandro Varsky) as well as the coverage of two World Cups. It might be one of the series’ best episodes as we move towards a look to the future and the 2022 World Cup in this final episode.