The Verdusco brothers, Beto (Diego Luna) and Tato (Gael García Bernal), work for a banana plantation and live with their mother, Elvira (Dolores Heredia),who has had a long list of partners and children, and dream of building a huge beach house for her. Beto is married to Toña (Adriana Paz) with whom he has two children. He loves to gamble and to play soccer. He is the goalkeeper for the local town team and it is enough to observe his game to fully understand why he is nicknamed as “Rudo” (Tough). Tato is super friendly, falls in love all the time and plays the accordion; he also plays as lineman for the same town team, although his real dream is to become a famous singer.
One day on their way to a soccer match, they run into Darío “Batuta” Vidali (Guillermo Francella), an Argentinean who is impressed by the way the Verdusco Brothers play. At the end of the game, he explains that he is a soccer talent scout and that he sees great potential in both siblings, but at the moment, he can only take one of the two with him. He asks them to choose which one will take advantage of this opportunity. They choose to allow a penalty kick to make the decision. Beto sees this as his one chance and asks Tato to kick the ball to the right. Tato nods and kicks… to his right. Beto throws himself to the other side. Goal! Tato wins.
Once in Mexico City, Batuta takes Tato for a tryout at the prestigious Deportivo Amaranto (Amaranto Club). As motivation, Batuta promises to help with his career as a singer… if he is successful as a soccer player. Tato is a revelation as a scoring machine and is immediately invited to play on the main team, but weeks pass by and he is still on the bench, which drives him mad.
Batuta is able to bring Beto to the Second Division Atlético Nopaleros (Nopaleros Team) as goalkeeper. Beto leaves in secret, without telling his wife, Toña. During his first matches, animosity arises between Beto and the Technical Director, which sends him indefinitely to the bench. Meanwhile, Tato finally plays his first match and earns the nickname of “Cursi” (Corny) because of his baroque playing style.
The soccer season continues. Beto is still not allowed to play while Tato becomes the rookie of the year. Tato’s picture is in all newspapers and sport magazines along with his nickname, which he abhors. Batuta presents him with a furnished house, which includes a luxury SUV, all courtesy of the Club; and succeeds in getting him a contract to record his first single along with a music video. There is also good news for Beto: his team, Nopaleros, has advanced to First Division and wants him as its main goalkeeper. In their joy and prosperity, the siblings forget all acrimony and Tato invites Beto to live together in the new house.
Life is smiling at them. They go to the racetrack and people stop them to ask for their autograph. Tato is approached by Maya Vega (Jessica Mas), the stunning TV hostess that he has admired for a long time. Beto, on the other hand, is approached by Jorge W (Salvador Zerboni), a common yuppie that invites him to join the highest level of “Las Vegas style” entertainment.
Victorious, the brothers return to Tlachatlán (their childhood home). Tato gets a call from Batuta with the amazing news that he has been called to join the National Team. Beto goes to see Toña who has become a health supplement distributor and is not willing to move to the city with him. The brothers take their mother, Elvira, to the beach and dream competitively about the house they will build for her one day.
Back in the city, Beto’s celebrity is growing hand in hand with his fondness for gambling. Meanwhile, Tato grows fonder and fonder of Maya and buys everything she wants, making her an obvious distraction for him on the field. In the meantime, Toña decides to move to the city, children included, to spend time with her husband. Beto loses everything he owns at the casino, even Tato’s furniture, and the old bitterness comes back to surface.
Tato and Maya get engaged. Beto moves with his family to a second rate hotel. Jorge W gives Beto an ultimatum: If he does not pay his debt in two weeks’ time, it will get messy. In exactly two weeks’ time, the awaited big match between Nopaleros and Amaranto will take place. During this important game, Beto could break the record as the goalkeeper with most consecutive shutout games. Around that time, Elvira calls with great news: their sister Nadia (Tania Esmeralda Aguilar) is getting married to Don Casimiro (Alfredo Alfonso), a rumoured drug-dealer.
The brothers arrive at their sister’s narco-wedding and Don Casimiro shares that he will carry out their dream of building a huge beach house for his new mother-in-law: the brothers have been replaced.
Beto asks Batuta for help with his gambling debt; and Batuta asks Beto to throw the match, but Beto declines. Meanwhile, Tato leaves continuous voicemails on Maya’s cell phone with no luck of reaching her.
Back in the city, it is now Tato who gets an ultimatum: the Amaranto Management is giving him a last chance of breaking his bad patch or he will be sent to Second Division. At the hotel, the night before the big match, he is watching a gossip TV show at the time that Maya announces her love affair with another football player. Tato goes mad and the team doctor has to sedate him.
Meanwhile, Beto calls Toña who is completely upset because the health supplement company she has been working so hard for, has deceived her. Beto promises everything will be all right and calls Batuta to accept throwing the match the next day.
The duel between siblings generates great expectations along with the possibility that Beto will break a record. Tato is in a hell of a state and is sent to the bench. Batuta is very nervous, but when he notices Beto is doing everything in his power for the other team to score, he doubles his initial bet. All in all, the first half ends 0; 0. Beto finds out about Tato and Maya. The game is still at an impasse and Amaranto ends up calling Tato to play. Towards the end of the game, there is a foul in Beto’s goal area that results in a penalty being shot by Tato. The ball is on the penalty mark and it is time for the brothers to settle their dispute. Beto finds a chance to reaffirm his solidarity and asks for Tato’s forgiveness, who in turn apologises as well. Beto asks Tato to kick it to the right. Tato sends the ball to the right, Beto’s right. The ball hits the goalkeeper and the match ends with a 0-0 score Beto has broken the record for most consecutive shutout games but on his way home, Jorge W’s gangsters catch up with him and shoot him in the leg.
Batuta narrates what became of the brothers: Tato spent some brief time in Second Division and ended up as administrator at a karaoke bar owned by his narco-borhter-in-law; Beto ended up as Technical Director of a Second Division team also owned by Don Casimiro. Batuta lost everything on that last bet and ended up just as he started, combing-out the open space soccer fields in search of that rough diamond for the ball to keep rolling.