The diminutive figure of Lionel Messi was the obvious focal point of Argentina’s 2022 World Cup triumph.
Leading his nation in goals and assists, the captain was voted player of the match in five of their seven games. However, Argentina’s first global title since 1986, a triumph solely credited to Diego Maradona, was a victory by committee. While the likes of Emi Martinez and Julian Alvarez played crucial roles alongside Messi, Argentina’s fans were integral to their nation’s success in Qatar.
Midway through the tournament, Messi hailed the unrelenting support. “The union and bond we have is something beautiful and it’s what the national team should be,” he gushed. “It’s unbelievable how they live every single match, how they transmit passion, energy and joy. We’re thankful.”
Jesus Braceras’ new documentary, Muchachos: La pelicula de la gente – Lads: The people’s film – tells the story of Argentina’s World Cup triumph through the lens of the fan. The clue is in the title, which is inspired by the name of the deafening chant that accompanied each Argentina game at the tournament.
Here’s everything you need to know about an alternative look at a glorious triumph for Argentines on the pitch, in the stands and back home.
The 100-minute documentary, scripted by the Argentine writer Hernan Casciari, was released on 7 December 2023, almost a year after the triumph in Qatar. Exactly 12 months earlier, Argentina had been preparing for their epic quarter-final with the Netherlands, a contest which Messi‘s side were forced to win via a penalty shootout after conceding two late goals to Wout Weghorst.
Messi’s instantly iconic barb at Weghorst after the final whistle – “Que mira, bobo?” What are you looking at, silly? – was plastered across shirts, mugs and even inspired its own wine pressed by the Putruele winery.
The reaction to Messi’s defiance – the entire game was framed by comments from Dutch manager Louis van Gaal which riled the Argentine team – is just one of the anthropological nuggets explored by the filmmakers.
Argentina’s triumph was almost universally popular. A third of polled Brazilians even admitted that they wanted Messi to complete his trophy cabinet after their own nation exited the competition in the quarter-finals, including Pele.
However, Muchachos is only initially available in Argentina. The film has been exclusively released in cinemas across the country, with production company Pampa Films providing links to various screening locations. More than 82,000 Argentinians piled in to watch the documentary narrated by Guillermo Francella on opening night.
The long-running Argentine establishment has not revealed whether Muchachos will be afforded a release in the UK or US. Yet, the global appeal of Messi’s role in this triumph points towards a market for wider distribution in the near future.