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FMFSOM TV Club: Al Grito de Guerra EP 6: Ilusion en el Desierto

The last episode of the series talks about the current process as Mexico prepare to play in the 2022 World Cup.

Mexico Training and Press Conference - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Al Grito de Guerra closes the series with its 6th and final episode. Unlike past episodes which focused on a rival to tell the story, the last one is a preview of the 2022 World Cup for Mexico and a recap of how they got there under coach Gerardo Martino. Exploring his tenure, the documentary ends on a positive note before the latest participation in the world’s biggest sporting event.

Spoiler Alert

The last episode of the series starts with a great piece on players talking about the feeling of scoring a World Cup goal for Mexico. It was just a short segment, but was among the best the doc had showed so far.

The episode begins with Mexico’s loss against Brazil in the last World Cup, followed by Juan Carlos Osorio refusing to return to the job. Ensuingly, Gerardo Martino becomes the current NT coach. After some interviews of players and Martino himself, they start narrating the tenure in itself and how Mexico started well with 4 consecutive wins in friendlies against CONMEBOL teams. Then, it was off to the 2019 Gold Cup where the doc jumps all the way to the final, where Mexico won the tournament, giving Martino his first international title. Things were going smoothly until a friendly where Argentina crushed Mexico 4-0 despite Messi’s absence.

The COVID-19 pandemic happened and football stopped worldwide. Martino talks that the stoppage hurt his team, although if anything, it was a very positive year as Mexico went undefeated in five friendlies, including an away win over the Netherlands. Then, the match that could have been a turning point, when Raul Jimenez suffered a terrible injury in Wolverhampton, when he fractured his skull after a clash of heads with David Luiz. Mexico lost their best player, but more importantly, Jimenez was severely hurt. After that, the slowdown of results began.

In 2021, Mexico played the Nations League finals, in which Martino says Mexico were still playing well. After getting through the semifinals with a win in a PK shootout over Costa Rica, they faced the United States in the final. Mexico played a good match despite a loss in the end after a missed PK, although Martino (and many others) thought they deserved the win because of the good play. Mexico would then go to the Gold Cup, where once again a bad injury occurred, this time to Hirving Lozano in the first match, resulting in him missing out on the entire tournament after crashing against Trinidad and Tobago’s goalkeeper. Mexico struggled all throughout the tournament, but once again got to the final against USA. El Tri lost again, but unlike the Nations League one, they played poorly and lost despite having a team closer to their A team than USA. Now, Mexico had to go to the World Cup qualifiers on the back of a bad result.

With Mexico not scoring, the doc touches on the fact Javier Hernandez hadn’t been called up. Instead, Rogelio Funes Mori got called up although it was wrong in the way it was presented as Funes Mori played in the 2021 Gold Cup. During this time, Jimenez kept his rehabilitation going as Mexico started their qualifiers. Mexico weren’t playing their best but were getting results. Then, once again, a visit to the United States gave them their 3rd straight defeat to their northern border rivals in 2021, and it brought back the hardcore criticism over Mexico, with things worsening when Mexico also lost in the Canada cold. Martino accepts it was their worst moment, although he doesn’t offer an explanation.

In 2022, the qualifiers return and start well for Mexico with a comeback win in Jamaica, but it quickly diminishes after a scoreless tie against Costa Rica. USA went to the Azteca and Mexico once again failed to defeat them with the match ending in a scoreless tie. Mexico went and got a victory away in Honduras, and then closed out their campaign by getting the ticket to the World Cup with a win in the Azteca over El Salvador. While Mexico got criticism all throughout, they finished in 2nd place, tied with Canada in points and ahead of the 3rd placed USA. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but overall they did better than the usual.

It’s now time for the preview of the 2022 World Cup and Mexico gets drawn into Group C with Poland, Argentina and Saudi Arabia. We get some trivial discussions from Martino and others about the rivals they’ll be facing. Because of the importance and the strong ties, Argentina get more analysis than the other rivals.

The doc then moves to talk about the seven straight Round of 16 appearances, and while getting eliminated in all of those is frustrating, there is also merit in getting to that stage for 7 straight World Cups. Only Brazil have done the same. The talking heads comment on what that accomplishment feels like for Mexico, however small and big it is, and what will happen in Qatar 2022. There’s a call to fans to support the National Team and the point is made that although there is much criticism, when success arrives, Mexicans embrace it. It’s just a roller-coaster life as a Mexican.

End Spoiler Alert

Al Grito de Guerra ended with a nice preview which was able to do a good recap of the Martino era prior to the competition. Overall it was a great series that summarized the recent history of the Mexican National Football Team well. The final episode made a good closing, although it never got back to their great opening segment and the fact that as soon as next year, the film will already not be as relevant. It might have been a little better to have ended with more segments like that first one. It also might be that Episode 6 had the best and worst moments of the series, but overall did it’s job complementing a series that had some great moments and left you wishing for even more.