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Mexican national team World Cup roster: notable omissions and inclusions

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Mexican national team head coach Gerardo Martino has announced the official 26-player World Cup roster, with Raul Jimenez and Rogelio Funes Mori headlining the attack.

Martino made several shocking omissions from the final roster, with Diego Lainez and Santiago Gimenez the two most notable. The Argentinian coach instead opted for Roberto ‘Piojo’ Alvarado, Funes Mori, Henry Martin, Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano, Jimenez, and Alexis Vega to form the team’s offense.

Many expected Gimenez to replace Jimenez after the Wolves figure suffered a groin injury that kept him on the sidelines for the weeks leading up to the international tournament. But he has since made a quick recovery, securing his place on Tata Martino’s list.

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El Tri will kick off the tournament on November 22 against Poland, before confronting Group C opponents Argentina and Saudi Arabia.

Here are the notable omissions and inclusions on Mexico’s World Cup roster…

Luis Chavez

Diego Lainez has been left out of the World Cup roster. / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Omission

Shock echoed through Mexican national team supporters as Gerardo Martino opted for Roberto ‘Piojo’ Alvardo over Diego Lainez.

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The player has been a crucial part of El Tri since his debut in 2018, recording three goals in 21 appearances. He played a key role for Martino’s side during Concacaf tournaments and the qualifying cycle, helping Mexico conclude in second place on the table with 28 points in 14 games to make the World Cup.

But his time on the pitch has been limited by clubs. The player saw minimal action with Real Betis, forcing a loan stint at Sporting Braga ahead of the 2022/2023 season. Though he’s improved in the Portuguese league, Lainez failed to secure a starting role in the crucial weeks leading up to the World Cup, and instead serves only as a last-minute substitute.

He’s played just 151 minutes since joining Braga.

Santiago Gimenez

Santiago Gimenez did not make the Mexico roster. / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Omission

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Gerardo Martino selected Henry Martin, Rogelio Funes Mori and Raul Jimenez, leaving behind Santiago Gimenez as the team’s potential striker.

Gimenez joined Mexico in 2020, declining an opportunity to play for Argentina and represent El Tri instead. He’s managed two goals in nine appearances since his first senior cap in 2021 under Gerardo Martino.

The forward became a figure to watch after a breakthrough 2022 Liga MX Apertura campaign with Cruz Azul, scoring five goals in five games to inspire a move abroad. He joined Eredivisie’s Feyenoord in July, and soon became one of their leading goalscorers.

He’s managed two goals in the Dutch league and four in the Europa League, in just 18 appearances overall.

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Many expected Gimenez to replace Raul Jimenez after the Wolves figure suffered a groin injury that kept him on the sidelines for the weeks leading up to the international tournament. But Raul has since made a quick recovery, securing his place on Tata Martino’s list. 

Roberto Alvarado

Roberto Alvarado is headed to Qatar with Mexico. / Omar Vega/GettyImages

Inclusion

The Chivas de Guadalajara player is at the center of controversy. Head coach Gerardo Martino opted for Piojo Alvarado over Diego Lainez in a shocking move. 

Alvarado kicked off his professional career in 2013 with Celaya, where he managed 10 goals in 62 Ascenso MX appearances before making the jump to the senior league. He featured for Pachuca, Necaxa and Cruz Azul, prior to reaching Chivas de Guadalajara in 2018. 

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His club performances propelled him to an international career with the Mexican national team. 

Piojo debuted on August 29, 2018 in a friendly against Uruguay, but has since become an integral part of Tata Martino’s squad. He replaced Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona in the months leading up to the tournament, after the Sevilla player was on the sidelines with a severe injury.

The Chivas de Guadalajara player worked out well for Martino, given his ability to connect with teammate Alexis Vega on the attack. The dynamic duo hold the starting positions at Chivas, inspiring chemistry on and off the field.
 
Piojo’s versatility also gives him the edge over Lainez, as Martino picked players with the ability to play in two positions. Though the Chivas figure works best as a right winger, he can easily sub in as a false nine to give the attack a fresh start against Group C opponents Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

“It would be a dream come true to go to the World Cup, I would accomplish a great goal,” said Piojo Alvarado exclusively to 90min.

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“Behind the dream has been a huge effort made, being away from home, away from family, on trips and everything, so it would be a huge honor to be able to go to the World Cup. It would be an honor to share the field with this great group, and why not be able to make history and leave the name of Mexico high.

“Going to the World Cup would be a dream that I want to fulfil. I want to be able to make history with Mexico, and go on to that long-awaited fifth game that is being talked about. I want Mexicans to feel proud.”

Carlos Acevedo

Carlos Acevedo did not make the Mexican roster. / Omar Vega/GettyImages

Omission

It’s no surprise that Carlos Acevedo wasn’t going to make the World Cup list. Gerardo Martino made the message clear when omitting the Santos Laguna goalkeeper from the larger, 30-player roster. 

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But his absence is still shocking. 

Martino opted instead for Alfredo Talavera and Rodolfo Cota as second and third choice goalkeepers, prioritizing past experience over a fresh new talent. Though Guillermo Ochoa will likely play all matches for Mexico in Qatar, Acevedo’s inclusion in the 26-player roster would have been a bid for the future.

There will be a turnover in Mexico’s camp as veterans like Ochoa, Cota and Talavera retire in the years leading up to the next World Cup, forcing the next batch of goalkeepers to feature in the international tournament with no prior experience.

Qatar stood as the prime opportunity to pave the way for Mexico’s future in goal.

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Raul Jimenez

Raul Jimenez is headed to Qatar. / Omar Vega/GettyImages

Inclusion

Many swore his injury would hold him back. 

In September, Raul Jimenez made his way back to the sidelines with a groin/adductor issue.

Wolves confirmed the Mexican striker would be unavailable for a few weeks, putting into question his national team involvement. Though he joined El Tri for the friendlies against Peru and Colombia in California, the player did not feature during the matches.

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In the weeks leading up to the final roster announcement, Raul Jimenez trained with Mexico and traveled to England to receive his last bit of medical attention regarding the injury. His place on Tata Martino’s list remained on the line, with Santiago Gimenez as the clear choice to take over. 

The question was never, ‘would Martino pick him over Gimenez?’ but rather ‘Is he going to be healthy in time for the first game?’

It’s no secret Martino relies on Jimenez as his first choice number nine, trumping Rogelio Funes Mori and Henry Martin in the hierarchy. He featured in most Concacaf tournaments and the qualifying cycle from 2019 to 2022, barring injury spells. 

He has 29 goals in 96 appearances for Mexico, overall.

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EPL

Mikel Arteta provides injury updates on two key Arsenal stars

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Mikel Arteta lifted the lid on the condition of both Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Jesus following Arsenal’s friendly victory over Lyon.

The Gunners breezed to a 3-0 win against the Ligue 1 side out in the United Arab Emirates, while taking part in the Dubai Super Cup as a part of their preparations for the impending return of club football.

Naturally, Arsenal have plenty of first-team regulars away still representing their country at the World Cup or on leave following a recent elimination, but are still stepping up their efforts with one eye on football’s return, with the aim being to continue an incredible first half of the season.

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Unfortunately, Brazil forward Jesus saw his World Cup campaign come to an end as a result of a knee injury, which the club have since confirmed he has had surgery to correct. After the win, Arteta responded ‘no’ when asked if there was a timescale for the 25-year-old’s return.

“We know that he needed some intervention in the knee and we have to take day by day, week by week and see where that takes us,” Arteta said.

When asked if injury to Jesus would influence the Gunners’ transfer plans, he responded: “What it affects is who we are as a team because he gives us so much.

“What we can do after that, when we know the timescale better and when we can have him back, we will look at the options and try to make the right decisions.”

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If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

Smith Rowe, meanwhile, has been missing for the majority of the 2022/23 campaign, but has travelled with the squad to Dubai for their mid-season camp. Arteta said: “With Emile, he has returned to training and he’s in that process after we rehab, after a period where he had some real discomfort.

“So we are giving him time – he’s getting closer and closer. So hopefully in the next few weeks, we’ll be able to see him.”

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Vilde Boe Risa stakes claim for more regular Man Utd chances

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Manchester United midfielder Vilde Boe Risa has been crying out for a proper chance this season. With competition for places so stiff in a much-improved squad, the Norway international has been limited to just 52 minutes across the club’s eight WSL games so far.

In United’s last five league games, Boe Risa has been afforded just nine minutes.

Ella Toone recently spoke about the high standards in training and the usual starters being pushed on by the rest to keep performing or risk losing their place.

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That has been the problem for Boe Risa this season. She has shown in the past that she can cut it in the WSL – nominated for last December’s PFA fans’ player of the month award – and there was hope that she might get more opportunities following the September departure of Jackie Groenen.

But displacing Toone in a ‘number’ 10 role or either Katie Zelem or Hayley Ladd slightly deeper has been close to impossible due to the form of all three. Toone in particular has really stepped it up in recent weeks, while Zelem has been remarkably consistent and in the form of her life, and Ladd’s physical attributes and midfield engine are not really matched by anyone else.

That was what made Wednesday night’s game against Everton in the Continental Cup so important for Boe Risa to get an opportunity and stake her claim for more meaningful minutes going forward.

She absolutely took it, getting forward from midfield to score in the first minute and then doubling her tally less than 20 minutes later as United raced into a 3-0 lead.

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“It’s nothing I didn’t already know,” United boss Marc Skinner said to 90min afterwards.

“I have never ever doubted that Vilde has unbelievable qualities. All keep asking is to keep evolving her game – the physical side and duelling, something we’re working on together,” he added, reiterating a previous explanation as to why she doesn’t often start.

“Her quality has always been there – I’ll never doubt that with her. Her attitude is brilliant, she’s a great person, lots and lots of qualities. I can’t speak any more highly of her, it’s just we’re a competitive team and we’re showing that in our games. Sometimes you have to be patient.”

Speaking to club media on her performance, Boe Risa herself said: “It’s nice to score, I always want to score and I scored two, so really happy about that. I always enjoy playing and to get a 90 is really nice so hopefully get more minutes as we go.”

Ultimately for Boe Risa, a lack of playing time at club level is threatening to hurt her international career with Norway. She was dropped from the squad earlier this season – although later recalled due to injury withdrawals – by head coach Hege Riise, who suggested to the player at the time she might be better suited joining a club that will offer her more game time.

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Only a few months out from the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Boe Risa also seemed to suggest during the last international break in comments to Norwegian media that leaving United is not completely out of the question if her situation doesn’t change.

Boe Risa is out of contract at the end of this season, although there is an option to extend her deal by another year until 2024, and the ideal for both parties would be to stay together. Longer-term, that will of course hinge on the player getting chances, but at least with a standout performance this week she has now pushed herself right into contention for more as the season progresses.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter!





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When do Liverpool play first after the World Cup?

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It has not been the season that many Liverpool fans expected so far but there is still plenty of cause for optimism when the play resumes after the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Jurgen Klopp’s side expected to be challenging for the Premier League title from the outset but that is not how things have panned out and now a Champions League spot has to be the overall aim for the Reds.

They are still in the Champions League and the Carabao Cup though, meaning the chance for silverware is high later in the campaign. Some of their key players have also not been in World Cup action and have had a genuine break.

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Here is a look at the fixtures that await Liverpool after the World Cup.

As Liverpool managed to get through the previous round of the Carabao Cup by beating Derby County on penalties, their first game will be in that tournament rather than the Premier League.

They may wish that wasn’t the case, as they have been drawn away against Manchester City who are serial Carabao Cup winners. That game takes place on December 22 at 20:00 GMT.

When Premier League action returns, Liverpool will try to get back on track by beating Aston Villa away from home on Boxing Day at 17:30 GMT. That is followed up by a match at home to Leicester City on December 30, meaning there is a great chance for Liverpool to get six points on the board straight away.

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An away game against Brentford is on January 2, before the FA Cup third round match against Wolves at Anfield on January 7.

The month is rounded out with an intriguing trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on January 14 and then a game at home to Chelsea on January 21. Overall, it is a set of fixtures Klopp and his side will feel fairly confident about as beyond the Carabao Cup tie, there is no fixture against another major side until the Chelsea match.

Harry Kane, Thiago Alcantara

Liverpool recently got the better of Tottenham Hotspur / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Something has not been quite right for Liverpool this season. They had a bad season in 2020/21, but that could largely be explained away by the mass of injuries they had to contend with.

This season though, many key players have all been available at the same time and results have still been below par. Liverpool were sixth when the break for the World Cup came and they are four points behind fifth-placed Manchester United having played the same number of games.

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A top four finish is certainly possible and given the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Andy Robertson have not been at the World Cup some of their key players may be fresher than other sides’.



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