For a spy, Gerardo Martino is a striking sight.

Of normal size, with a rounded belly.

When he speaks, it is in a clear, loud voice.

Not in a whisper or behind closed doors.

He also makes no effort not to be seen.

The day before the final group game against Saudi Arabia (8 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the 2022 World Cup, on ZDF and on MagentaTV), he confidently walked to the lectern to answer the journalists’ questions.

The questions are one thing, Martino answers them without much emotion, he has been working as a coach for over 20 years.

The criticism of him the other.

Some in Mexico believe he is a spy.

On a secret mission for the Argentine Football Association.

Martino is Argentinian.

As absurd as it may sound, a Mexican journalist made the same assumption after the 2-0 loss to Martino's home country.

"I told you, I told you.

Martino tactically screwed up the game.

Also, what should you expect if you have a Trojan horse in the house?

Who the hell did he want to see win?


Then why did he do absolutely nothing to make us win?

Or did he want his own country to win?” asked reporter Alvaro Morales.

That's how it's been since Martino took over the selection of Mexico, called "El Tri", in 2019.

His appointment was controversial from the start, which was less due to his professional qualities and more to his nationality.

"I regret that Martino is coaching the Tri.

I don't like it when someone who isn't Mexican coaches the national team," said Hugo Sanchez ahead of the World Cup.

Sanchez, a former Real Madrid forward, is one of the most influential experts in Mexico.

His voice carries weight.

When he puts his thumb down, many in the country do it.

The fact that Sanchez would like to be the national coach himself from time to time is another story.

Complicated situation

All critics are confirmed now that Mexico are facing a historically poor result under Martino's leadership.

Since 1994, the national team has reached the round of 16 seven times in a row.

Mexico is a long way from that in Qatar, it's no longer possible to progress on your own.

First of all you have to win yourself, ideally as high as possible.

Then everything depends on the parallel game between Argentina and Poland (8 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the 2022 World Cup and on ZDF).

From a Mexican point of view, there should also be a winner there, preferably with a clear result.

There can be diligent calculations in this balanced group C, in which all four teams can still move into the round of 16.

A premature exit is considered a disgrace in Mexico and would also be disadvantageous for the organizers in Qatar.

Thousands of Mexicans are in Doha, and there is hardly a team with more support.

But there were already fears of an early departure.

A lot of things were wrong, especially not the results.

Mexico struggled for a long time in qualifying, many fans resented second place behind Canada, but what hurt them even more was that neither of the two games against arch-rivals USA could be won.

Martino was accused of all sorts of technical errors, as he did against Argentina when his overly cautious defensive approach caused a lack of understanding.

The triple chain in defense displeased as well as the lack of a center forward.

In fact, Martino seems to be getting more and more unfaithful in Mexico.

Known at other stations for courageous attacking football and intensive pressing, he leads his current team much more conservatively.

He is supported in this by former national goalkeeper Jorge Campos, who says Mexico simply lacks “players with quality” for this style.

However, this opinion is not too popular.

Debate about staff

The names of those whom Martino left at home, to the incomprehension of many, appear in the numerous newspapers every day.

Right now, with Mexico still waiting for the first goal at this World Cup, the debates are culminating.

The most frequently mentioned is Javier Hernández, who once played the ball for Bayer Leverkusen. Hernández, better known by his stage name Chicharito, is now 34 years old and is only moderately successful with his club Los Angeles Galaxy, but he has more Scored goals for the national team than anyone else.

According to reports, Martino gave up not only because of his shape and age, Chicharito's preference for private celebrations in the team hotel and the fact that he should pay the women for their participation also played a greater role.

Another that many Mexicans would have liked to see in Qatar is Santiago Gimenez, a powerful centre-forward.

Type Niclas Füllkrug, one of those is missing from the Mexico squad.

Martino justified his decision by saying that the attacker was too young and inexperienced.

A strange argument considering Gimenez is 21 years old.

Many Mexicans long for Gimenez, who is seen as a symbol of the coach's failed personnel policy.

What is less debated is that the young man was born in Buenos Aires.

His father is Argentinian.

Just like Gerardo Martino.