As European leagues stage their penultimate weekend of matches before the World Cup, soccer fans around the world are holding their collective breaths hoping their stars make it out unscathed.
Twelve of Mexico’s 31-man squad ply their trade in Europe, so El Tri fans are in the same boat.
Meanwhile, coach “Tata” Martino and the Mexico contingent are in Catalonia to complete the first week of a pre-Qatar training camp, preparing for Wednesday’s exhibition match against Iraq.
At the same time, “Tata” is preoccupied with the physical condition of his two favorite starters.
Striker Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton) has not played since August 31 due to a sports hernia, while winger Jesús “Tecatito” Corona (Sevilla) is recovering from a broken leg suffered in practice on August 18.
El Tri enjoys a slight advantage thanks to Liga MX
Mexico arrived in Girona, Spain, on Monday with 19 players (plus a collection of youngsters serving as practice opponents) after several weeks of scattered training in Mexico City.
While the unprecedented November-December World Cup schedule has reduced the time most national teams will have to work before kick-off in Qatar, Liga MX officials changed the Apertura 2022 calendar to allow for a rest-recovery-training interval.
The regular season ended on October 2, but no member of El Tri was available until after Wildcard Weekend, and the first national teams began entering camp after October 10. After the following weekend, three more players saw their dreams of Liga MX glory dashed. and ran into the El Tri facility.
When America No. 1 and Monterrey no. 2 crashed out in the semi-finals, Aguilas stars Guillermo Ochoa and Henry Martín and Rayados stalwarts César Montes, Héctor Moreno, Jesús Gallardo, Luis Romo and Rogelio Funes Mori were suddenly released. The good news for Tata was that instead of taking the week off they were entitled to, all seven players reported directly to El Tri.
They were joined by three Liga MX champions (Kevin Álvarez of Pachuca, Erick Sánchez and Luis Chávez) shortly before El Tri flew to Spain on October 31. Los tricolores will train in Spain for a few weeks, but will have to wait until November 13 for the “European” contingent.
Still on duty in Europe
Mexico fans will be on the lookout for the actions of some of the national team’s key players this weekend and beyond.
Among the linebackers who will see action are midfielder Edson Álvarez and full-back Jorge Sánchez with Ajax, midfielder Erick Gutiérrez (PSV Eindhoven), striker Santiago Giménez (Feyenoord), Andrés Guardado (Real Betis) Geredokeagaar (Real Betis), winger “Chucky” Lozano (Napoli) and attacking midfielder Orbelín Pineda (AEK Athens).
There are reports that Jiménez could see some minutes tonight against Arsenal as Wolves officials are confident his rehabilitation is progressing adequately. “Tata” and El Tri fans will be especially attentive to the developments there.
So while European leagues try to keep their focus on domestic concerns, Mexico will face Iraq on November 9 with their Liga MX roster (plus Héctor Herrera from MLS club Houston Dynamo).
And after next weekend’s Euro games, Tata will be hoping to have a full squad available for Mexico’s November 16 friendly against Sweden, also in Girona.
Like all other participating teams. Mexico must submit its final 26-man World Cup roster by November 14. El Tri begins its World Cup adventure on November 22 against Poland in Doha.