Four years ago, Mexico had a chance to make history by bringing down Argentina. I was there, in Leipzig, in that beautiful, modern stadium built literally inside the shell of the older, pre-war arena. It truly was a gorgeous sight. And when the Mexican team went up with Marquez’s goal early in the game, it became even more so. But it didn’t last. The Argentines tied soon enough and then, with a goal endlessly repeated in our nightmares, won with a kick that surprised even its modestly talented author, Maxi Rodríguez. It was sad. Once again, Argentina proved unbeatable. On the train back to Berlin, the Argentines sang and sang, taunted and taunted. I disliked them then and I dislike them now. Nothing could make me happier than a Mexican victory this coming Sunday.
Of course, it’s a long shot. The improbability of Mexico beating this Argentina side seems far greater than what could have happened in Germany four years back. Maradona’s offensive lineup is simply overpowering. It will take a near perfect game to control Messi and friends; something close to a miracle. But–I dare say–an upset is not impossible. Here’s what I hope we’ll see on Sunday. Argentina plays at two different speeds: it defends sluggishly and attacks with vertigo. Mexico needs to take the game to the Argentine defense. To do that, Mexico should rely solely on youth. Although hardly anyone noticed, Mexico won the under-17 World Cup five years ago in Peru. Those kids are older and better now… and most of them like to attack, frantically and with authentic confidence. Think of Giovani Dos Santos, talented and fast. Or take Pablo Barrera, a fantastic winger now being courted by Manchester United. You could also play Javier Hernández, already signed by Sir Alex Ferguson. Add Andrés Guardado, who has played–quite unfairly–too few minutes in this World Cup but who has been Mexico’s most brilliant player for a while. Throw Arsenal’s Carlos Vela and Efrain Juárez in there and you have a recipe for fast and youthful football. If Aguirre decided to play them all on Sunday, the average age of Mexico’s attack would be 22. Set them up against Verón (35), Samuel (32), Heinze (32) and DeMichelis (30), make sure Mexico gets a hold of the ball like they did against France and you might–just might–witness a miracle.
Of course, my idea for a fairy-tale doesn’t take into account Higuaín, Tévez, Messi, Milito or Aguero. I’d rather not think about them. It’s my dream, after all. And I also prefer not to imagine Maradona, with his oversize suit and pedantic euphoria: One needs to have at least a reasonable sense of mental hygiene.