Germany is the next edition of Al Grito de Guerra on ViX+, and it comes at an incredible time. For the first time in history, the team that was a huge and terrible problem for Mexico, has a great last clash where Mexico had one of their best moments in their football history. As a Mexico fan, the possibility that a documentary about Mexico’s history of clashes with Germany end with a positive note was at one time crazy: and yet here we are, and Al Grito de Guerra takes advantage of it.
The episode starts with going back to the 1986 World Cup and how scary was facing West Germany, especially at that time. But after that, to hammer the point home, they go even further back to the 1978 World Cup. That World Cup was an embarrassment, as Mexico went to the tournament overconfident after crushing all opponents in the World Cup Qualifiers held in Mexico. The documentary skips over the fact that Mexico came to the West Germany match with a 3-1 loss to Tunisia, which had shaken the team already. This might explain better how Mexico got crushed by Germany by a 6-0 score. Mexico finished last place in the World Cup, in what was their last time playing a World Cup and not making out of the group stage (unfortunately they failed to qualify in 1982 and were banned for the 1990 edition).
The return to the 1986 World Cup brings up the fact that Mexico had to travel outside the Estadio Azteca to face West Germany, as the match was held in Monterrey. There are many interesting tidbits from the match, including the fact that Mexico got a goal called off for a dubious foul and that Mexico had a number of injuries including to Tomas Boy (who was subbed out) and Hugo Sanchez. The best tidbit though comes from Ramon Raya, an ex-player who wasn’t part of the team, who said that goalkeeper Harald Schumacher had the strategy of always going to his right side in a shootout against France in 1982. He would do the same thing, but a lack of knowledge in strategy had Mexico failed to do take that into effect and the two penalties stopped by Schumacher were to the right side. Still the doc makes the great point that Mexico did play that fifth game and technically never lost a match, as they had their best ever performance in a World Cup.
Now it’s time for the 1998 World Cup which starts with the coach of that team Manuel Lapuente saying really stupid things in an interview, which wasn’t rare for him. Still at that time, he was a great coach and quite possibly one of the best in Mexican history. Lapuente came in late, after Mexico had qualified to the World Cup with Bora Milutinovic. Because of this, he had to vibe with the coach in 1998 and thus played numerous friendlies having terrible results. The documentary doesn’t quite get to them all but they were really bad results (the worse for me was a 5-1 loss to Universidad Catolica de Chile after losing to Chile’s U20 team and to Boca Juniors). But apparently it was all part of the plan. For the first time in the series, the 1998 World Cup gets talked about with the South Korea match. Although Mexico trails, they had a great performance and Mexico got a victory, although the doc fails to mention how key it was that three minutes after South Korea scored, they got a straight red card although it was the correct call. The Belgium match is next, and it goes with the typical thing about how Mexico was trailing by 2-0 but came back to tie. There it would also serve to remember that Mexico was the better team and hit the post twice until they went down to ten players after Pavel Pardo was red carded. Belgium went down to ten players in the play that Mexico got a penalty, and they dominated the match although it would have been interesting to have talked about how Luis Hernandez look to have hurt himself. However since Mexico had made all the subs, he had to remain all 90 minutes and the tie was a great moral result, but a bad result knowing they still had to face the Netherlands, by far the best team in the group. To my surprise they talk about that match against the Netherlands as I thought it would probably be saved for a future episode. It was well done recap, maybe the best of all three as was the result. Then it’s off the the Germany match where Mexico’s World Cup ended. The Germany match is very interesting since they are conflicting views from the interviews from people who thought they were dominating Germany to other who had expected it. Luis Garcia does an interesting take on how Lapuente subbing out Francisco Palencia could have cost Mexico the match, as Lothar Matthäus took advantage of it. Still Mexico gave a great game and it still feels like a great chance that Mexico wasted.
As expected the documentary closes with the 2018 World Cup. It starts with the key point that people forget; that when Mexico was drawn against Germany almost nobody gave Mexico a chance in that match. Coach Juan Carlos Osorio had done his homework, and the interviews show that Mexico’s players had a plan and knew what to do. While the accounts of fans and announcers are a good plus, the interviews are key because after past results, especially that Germany lost out to South Korea, it has at times been diminished by many critics but at the time and even after, the win was a great result and the biggest one ever in a World Cup in terms of the opponent.
End of Spoiler Alert
The Germany-Mexico relation is at a strange time as ever for Mexican football. Marion Reimers says in the documentary that there couldn’t be a culture as different as Mexican and German culture, which I can really say. Yet football-wise, for years it was the total opposite. Germany was the strong successful team filled with confidence as they coldly and calculated got to be what possibly is the best national team in history after Brazil. Mexico on the other hand is a team that mentally has suffered, and if Germany was the team that would eventually win every time, Mexico is the team you never knew when they will choke up until the whistle blew. The documentary does a great job of painting this and how Mexico was the constant victim in the German story. Yet with 2018 Mexico finally made a mark on that relation, and it’s incredible to me that in a story against Bulgaria, the United States, and Germany, it’s is known that Germany is the team with the sweeter last chapter for Mexico. The documentary continues to do a good job painting that picture as we go toward the biggest rivalry in the sports for Mexico.