One of the three captains of the Mexico team, and one of El Tri's greatest defenders of recent times, Rafael Marquez is making his third appearance at the FIFA World Cup™.
He made his mark in the tournament's Opening Match against hosts South Africa, scoring the late goal that earned a crucial point to set Mexico on their way to securing a berth in the Round of 16. The CONCACAF side now face the team that eliminated them at the same stage in Germany four years ago, Argentina. On that occasion, La Albiceleste ran out 2-1 winners, with Marquez's own early strike cancelled out before the South Americans settled the tie in extra time. Now, while playing down talk of retribution, Mexico, and Marquez in particular, sight an opportunity for revenge.
FIFA.com: I imagine you have watched Argentina's three games. What did you think of them?
Rafa Marquez: I don't think they were that convincing. It's true that they create good scoring opportunities but they also fail to convert a lot of those chances. They obviously have a lot of attacking potential but they are not as strong at the back, and that is something we have to exploit.
Which Argentinian has impressed you the most so far?
None in particular. We know what they are capable of. I know that Leo Messi is having a good tournament, he sets the bar very high for himself and always wants to win. Argentina's football is based around him and that's only natural.
You know Messi well, which could prove useful for your team...
I know how Messi likes to play, his movement, the way he thinks, and yes, that could help. All of us know that Messi, as a player, is the number one. He makes the difference. He is a great footballer, and as a person he's very humble, honest, and a very good friend.
You don't like to use the word 'revenge', but surely it would be fantastic for Mexico to beat Argentina after what happened in 2006.
Yes, but no matter what opponent we come up against, we just focus on getting the win. Our goal is to get through to the next round. Over the last few years, Mexico have not been able to get past the Round of 16, and now we're up against Argentina, the team that knocked us out four years ago. That game was Mexico's best performance at that World Cup, even though the result was a bitter pill to swallow as it put us out. We gave it everything but came up short, so this time we hope that luck will be on our side. But the truth is I don't think about that game any more – it's over, it's history. We now have to seize the moment and try to write a new chapter in our history.
Mexican football is changing. There are more of our footballers playing abroad and that makes the team more competitive.
Mexico have only ever reached the quarter-finals when hosting the tournament in 1970 and 1986.
Yes, that's right. We know that in Mexico, in our own stadium with our own fans, we are very difficult to beat. Maybe it's like a 12th man for us when we're at home. Unfortunately we haven't delivered the same standard of football away from home, and as a result we've been unable to progress further than the Round of 16. But Mexican football is changing. There are more of our footballers playing abroad and that makes the team more competitive.
How far can Mexico go at South Africa 2010?
I think we have a good chance of going far, but you have to take it one game at a time, and Argentina will be tough to beat. I'm confident we can reproduce the same form we showed against France and cause an upset. We have little to lose and there is more pressure on them, being favourites.
Much is made of Argentina's attacking threat but Mexico's forwards are also making their mark.
We have young, gifted players in attack. Maybe they haven't performed to their best yet, but they have a good opportunity to put that right against Argentina. The best form of defence is attack, and I hope we can play to a level where we can cause them problems. We need to be clinical in attack. Out of this group of young players, the one who has impressed me most is possibly Pablo Barrera. I didn't know him well before because I hadn't had the chance to see him in many games, but he is a quality player with a lot of pace. He is very dangerous going forward.
Mexico are one of the few teams with three captains. How do you find this shared captaincy?
I behave exactly the same on the pitch whether I'm wearing the captain's armband or not. But it's a big responsibility, as well as a good incentive to be well-motivated and to lead by example. It's a great honour.