Having qualified for every edition of the tournament since 1950, Mexico has been a remarkably consistent presence at World Cup level for more than half a century. El Tri has also been consistent in progressing from the group stage, having qualified for the Round of 16 in every World Cup since the 1994 edition in the USA. But that’s where things typically come an end.
The last time El Tri moved beyond the Round of 16 to the quarterfinals was when it hosted the tournament in 1986 (Mexico was banned from Italia 1990).
Getting beyond the fourth match to reach the elusive fifth game has become such a bogey over Mexico’s head as a soccer nation, that there are some who actually consider it a curse.
Apparently, the idea of the curse is taken so seriously in some quarters, that an actual warlock was enlisted to help break the curse before the team took to the pitch in Russia. And not just any warlock, but the country’s “Grand Warlock.”
Antonio Vazquez, aka “El Brujo Mayor,” is the self-appointed Grand Warlock of Mexico. In the days leading up to the World Cup, Vazquez performed a ceremony to boost Mexico’s chances at the tournament this summer.
“With the help of two priestesses and a rain stick shaped like an ancient Mesoamerican god,” Vazquez performed a ritual that reportedly invoked the plumed serpent god, Quetzalcoatl to help the nation overcome its curse and progress past the Round of 16.
“Give me all your force and power to break through heaven’s doors, let Mexico reach the fifth match. Quetzalcoatl, let it be so,” said Vazquez, his heavy gray beard trailing down the front of his green El Tri jersey.
In addition to his prowess in casting spells, Vazquez is also famous for his annual predictions on politics and news. Among his past predictions were that Germany would win the World Cup in 2006 (it didn’t), that Mitt Romney would beat Barack Obama in 2012, and that Donald Trump would lose the 2016 election. We all know how those worked out.
But as far as Mexico goes, it’s so far, so good. El Tri got its World Cup started with a bang, defeating defending champions Germany 1-0 in its tournament opener. That was followed up by a 2-1 win over South Korea to put Mexico in control of Group F ahead of its final group stage match.
It appears Vazquez got another one right, in regard to Mexico’s win in its opener. Despite Mexico never having beaten Germany in a competitive match, the Grand Warlock predicted that Mexico would at least draw, or win 1-0 against the champions.
With Mexico now positioned to top its group, the real test of Vazquez’s mystic charms will come in the next round, when Juan Carlos Osorio’s side meets the second place team in Group E, which as things are stacking up, could turn out to be five-time World Cup champions, Brazil.
Better keep that rain stick handy and the line to Quetzalcoatl open.
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