Mexico players in Europe in the spotlight before Qatar

PSV Eindhoven star Eric Gutierrez could find himself a starter for Mexico in Qatar if he continues the level he set last season. (Photo Prestige/Skritts/Getty Images)

Like any other World Cup team, Mexico hopes its national team stars are in good shape by the time the event kicks off in Qatar in late November, the unprecedented “winter” World Cup.

El Tri members in Europe – as well as candidates still under consideration for a place on Mexico’s roster – are currently in training camp and/or on pre-season rounds while those playing in Liga MX are already four games into their season.

Unlike the European leagues, the Liga MX season will conclude before the World Cup opens, giving some Mexican players nearly a month to prepare. Players in the European Championships will arrive about 10 days before their opening group match against Poland.

Whatever the case, Mexico fans are eager to see their European team play well, so here’s a quick look at what’s going on with some of these potential World Cup champions.

Mexico’s front-line attackers in addition to the “machine”

Mexico coach Gerardo Martino seems to be inclined to open with a three-headed attacking header led by Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton), Hirving Lozano (Napoli) and Jesus Coruna (Sevilla).

All three can expect to enjoy a long time playing for their clubs. ‘Chucky’ Lozano has been linked with a move to the Premier League, but even if the speedy winger is moved to West Ham United, he can expect plenty of excitement.

With this trio secured in their positions – as long as they avoid injury – there is reasonable hope that they will make it to Qatar in good shape.

Another player for Mexico in a similar situation is midfielder Bulldog Edson “El Machin” Alvarez. The America producer shone in the Dutch league champions Ajax last season and will surely score a lot of minutes again this season. El Tri fans are completely confident of the midfield.

The only potential flaw is if his former coach – Erik ten Hag, now with Manchester United – successfully recruits him. A move to the Premier League could reduce his playing time a bit, but nonetheless he is a sure-fire player for Mexico.

Rank and file list of Mexico

Longtime El Tri captain Andres Guardado is likely to get a spot on the team but is no longer seen as a 90-minute man. “El Principito” will likely see a lot of match time with Real Betis in LaLiga. This combined with his experience and fitness will make him a valuable asset to Martino.

Midfielder Eric Gutierrez made 25 appearances last season at PSV Eindhoven, the most since joining the Dutch force in 2018. ‘Guti’ – always a luxury player while being promoted through Pachuca’s ranks – has sharply refined his technique, and has made gains. Eindhoven coaches’ confidence of 1,740 minutes played in Eredivisie matches last season (watched 1,638 minutes of league action in the previous three seasons).

This week, a story surfaced linking Guti to the Bundesliga, La Liga and Premier League teams. While this would be great for his long-term career, one wonders if he’s worried about the lack of playing time with a new team now. As it stands, if his game continues to evolve under new PSV coach Ruud van Nistelrooy, “Gutti” can claim his starting place with El Tree.

Olympic bronze medalist Johan Vazquez enjoyed a successful first season in Serie A with Genoa, but after the club’s relegation, the 23-year-old defender booked a move to newly promoted Cremonese. Vásquez is sure to continue his education in Italy, and strong performances will likely earn him a springboard (Martino has earned the admiration of sticking with veterans Nestor Araujo and Hector Moreno rather than pairing Vásquez with his fellow El Tri Olímpico César Montes line).

Left-back Gerardo Arteaga is having an impressive season with Belgian club Genk, with the Spanish press linking him early this month with La Liga teams, as well as some Premier League clubs. Arteaga, 23, has a great opportunity to be a key player in Qatar and is looking forward to a long European career ahead of him.

Orbelín Pineda moved to Celta de Vigo in January and seemed to miss his World Cup chances as coach Eduardo Codet rarely called him off the bench. With the new season approaching, Codet made it clear that he still had no plans to use “El Maguito” and since coach Martino made it clear that he would only call up players watching events, Pineda was in danger of seeing his World Cup call-up. Cancellation – Termination.

Last week, Pineda – a smart and intelligent playmaker who helped Cruz Azul win the 2021 Guardians Liga MX title – arranged for a move to AEK Athens. With the Greek club being coached by Matthias Almeida – Pineda’s coach at Guadalajara for three years – Orbelín will surely have plenty of opportunities to show what he has.

Two on the bubble, a long shot

Diego Lines moved from America to Real Betis with much fanfare in 2019. He was just 18 and great things were expected. After more than three years, stardom is still far from Little Yusr. In fact, I backed off.

Linez was left off the bench only seven times last season, and Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini this week left the original Tabasco off his pre-season travel list, suggesting the skilful playmaker was not in his plans. Betis will want to loan Linez this season as he is under contract for another two years. A loan will likely be the only way for Lainez to see enough action to make Mexico’s roster.

Teenager Marcelo Flores had an outside chance of being picked up by Gerardo Martino, especially after spending time playing with El Tre early this summer. Under contract with Arsenal, the 18-year-old has been loaned to Spanish second-tier side Real Oviedo where he is likely to be the focal point of their attack. If Flores shines in LaLiga 2, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him join Mexico in Qatar.

Santi Muñoz is another Mexican genius on the payroll of one of the top English clubs. The 19-year-old striker joined Newcastle United last year, but has only seen a game for the Under-23 side. On Friday, it was announced that Muñoz had been invited to train with the first team ahead of the Premier League season.

Santi is not on Martino’s radar at the moment, and even if he manages to stay with the first team, he is unlikely to get enough playing time to secure a place in Qatar. However, Mexican fans will be watching the progress of the Santos Laguna product.

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