The last point about training with your teammates should be remembered when we analyze the state of players such as Porto’s Diego Reyes and Miguel Layun or Benfica’s Raul Jimenez and Roma’s Hector Moreno. All of them are currently struggling with minutes with their respective clubs but featured for Mexico in the last month’s thrilling 3-3 friendly against Belgium.
Osorio rates the quality of European football so much that for him, just the fact that they’re training in high competition could be reason enough for them to be selected for Russia as opposed to a bubble player who is starting and doing well in Liga MX. But due to the elevation of quality in Mexico’s domestic league, there are many players who could still make a name for themselves between now and the World Cup.
Then there are those who are playing in Europe and excelling. Case in point: Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, who netted his 10th goal of the season with PSV Eindhoven last weekend to become the Dutch league’s top scorer thus far.
Against Belgium, he was electric, as he mirrored Romelu Lukaku’s performance with a brace and solidified his role for El Tri. If he continues to perform for PSV and stays fit, Lozano can be a game-changer for Mexico. He is one to watch out for in Russia, and here are 22 others who are in position to join him as of now:
ERIC VERHOEVEN/SOCCRATES/GETTY IMAGES
Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
Ochoa’s time with Standard Liege has really picked up since the beginning of the season and it would take a monumental effort by Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul) or Alfredo Talavera (Toluca) to take his starting spot at this point. A good performance against Poland earlier this month and more to come for 2018, however, should solidify Corona’s No. 2 spot, while Talavera, who is recuperating from surgery due to major ligament damage, should be back by the time the league’s Clausura tournament comes around. If there is a setback, look for Chivas’s Rodolfo Cota to possibly take over the third spot. Osorio is familiar with the 30-year-old, as he went to the Confederations Cup.
Cover Image ART19
Planet Fútbol with Grant Wahl
00:00 / 44:03
Hector Moreno (Roma), Diego Reyes (Porto), Miguel Layun (Porto), Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt), Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Jesus Gallardo (Pumas), Edson Alvarez (America), Hugo Ayala (Tigres)
This is all about versatility and the many different positions these defenders can cover. Players like Gallardo and Layun provide defensive and offensive creativity on the left-hand side, as they are able to play left back and wing. Layun, if needed, can play on both flanks. Salcedo plays as a center back for Frankfurt, and did so against Poland, but against Belgium he went out wide. Reyes is also a choice for defensive midfielder, while Araujo and Ayala offer some stability at the back. Ayala played well against Poland, showing a level of experience and composure, which is why he might be included, but look out for Monterrey’s Cesar Montes for a possible call-up. The 20-year-old has been exceptional for Monterrey, which finished first in Liga MX’s Apertura regular season.
The other issue is Rafael Marquez, who is hoping to play for–and captain–Mexico in a fifth World Cup. As of right now, the 38-year-old can’t be included due to the sanctions against him by the U.S. government for his alleged connections to a drug kingpin. He is not allowed to travel to the U.S., and his international status is still in question, but if this is resolved before next summer, then the opportunity for him to come in will arise. His fitness would not be an issue, as he is already allowed to play for his club, Atlas. Osorio has mentioned he is willing to leave the door open for him, so only time will tell.