Canelo Alvarez threatens Lionel Messi, giving us dumbest World Cup controversy yet

The legendary boxer was set off by a post-game video of Messi in the dressing room

Canelo Álvarez is a boxer, after all, so perhaps its not so surprising that he’s looking for a fight.

But the target of Álvarez’s fury is a bit more eye-opening: Lionel Messi, perhaps the greatest soccer player ever. What did Messi do to Álvarez? Far less than you’d imagine for the fury the Mexican boxer unleashed on Twitter in the aftermath of his country’s World Cup loss to Argentina.

Messi was front and center in Saturday’s high-profile clash at Lusail Stadium, scoring the winner his side desperately needed in a 2-0 victory over El Tri.

In the aftermath of the win Argentina celebrated wildly in their dressing room and in the midst of those celebrations, Messi was seen giving the tiniest of kicks to a Mexico jersey he apparently obtained in a post-game jersey exchange.

Seriously, this kick was nearly non-existent, and also probably accidental.

But that was enough to draw the ire of the boxing legend, who went on Twitter not just to express his displeasure but to not-so-vaguely threaten one of the greatest players of all time.

“Did you see Messi cleaning the floor with our shirt and flag????” Álvarez tweeted.

“He better pray to God that I don’t find him!!” Álvarez added in another tweet. “Just like I respect Argentina, he has to respect Mexico! I’m not talking about the country as a whole, just about the b––––––– that Messi pulled.”

Naturally, some of Messi’s former teammates rushed to his defense, including former Argentina star Sergio Aguero.

“Mr. Canelo, don’t look for excuses or problems, surely you don’t know about football and what happens in a changing room,” the retired striker tweeted.

“The shirts are always on the floor after games have finished due to sweat and then if you look properly, he makes the movement to remove his boot and accidentally hits it.”

Former Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas chimed in on Twitter, saying: “You don’t know this person, nor do you know how a dressing room works or what happens after a game. ALL shirts, including the ones we use ourselves, go on the floor and are washed afterward, even more so when you are celebrating an important victory.”

There is plenty of time for other World Cup controversies to overtake this one as the most inane (and obviously this one’s in a different category than some of the more consequential stuff), but the bar has certainly been set high.

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With the weight of a nation on his shoulders, Lionel Messi delivers again

Argentina’s talisman came though when his national team, and his country, needed it the most

LUSAIL, Qatar – He’s 35 now, no longer quite the quicksilver dribbling phenomenon he once was, torturing opposing defenses, dominating some of the highest-level matches of the 21st century. He’s a more mercurial presence, drifting, watching, walking for long stretches as he waits for the optimal moments to expend his energy to change games, just as apt to do so with a pass as a shot.But Lionel Messi is still Lionel Messi. And he can still hoist a nation of 47 million soccer-obsessed people onto his back and carry them forward on the stage they love the most.Somewhere around 88,000 souls had the privilege of witnessing his latest such act in person at glittering, pulsating Lusail Stadium on Saturday night. That’s where Messi delivered Argentina — both the national team and the nation — from the collective agony they’ve been suffering since the shock 2-1 upset loss at the hands of Saudi Arabia.After more than an hour of tense, fraught and frankly ugly play, due in no small part to Mexico’s defensive tactics, Messi popped up in a fleeting pocket of space in Zone 14 to clip a daisy-cutting strike past Memo Ochoa to break the deadlock and spark euphoria, or perhaps something stronger and more haunting than that, among the legions of sky blue and white-clad supporters.“The days were very long, that’s how they felt, and we were eager to have a chance to turn the situation around. It was a critical game,” said Messi in Spanish in the postgame press conference, alluding to the opportunity to “start again” after this victory. “We knew that if we won today, we’d have another chance … It was a weight off our shoulders and peace of mind.”How much weight? On the Argentina bench, retired legend turned assistant coach Pablo Aimar wept next to manager Lionel Scaloni, visibly wracked with emotion as the tension broke. Afterwards manager Scaloni was asked about the moment.

“It’s what you live when you are here,” he said. “The feeling that you are playing something more than a football match, that’s not nice, and that is what I was feeling … the feeling we all had was relief, and of course it is difficult to make people understand that tomorrow the sun will shine whether we win or lose.”This truly was a group-stage match with the jitters and the zero-sum vibe of a knockout match. Mexico’s Argentine manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, said to be a favorite of Messi’s, who coached him on both the national team and FC Barcelona, went defensive with his lineup and shape, a 5-3-2 formation intended to stymie Messi & Co., and it just about worked.“The idea was to stop their midfield and then counterattack very quickly, finding spaces. We did achieve that in some ways, but we missed the final pass,” said the former Atlanta United coach, who now faces a steep road to reach the knockout stages and the withering public criticism that inevitably comes with that.Though it was a far cry from the vibrant, proactive El Tri sides of the past, much less Martino’s own high-octane philsophical identity, it seemed to frustrate Scaloni’s team and the mounting tension in this lavish bowl was palpable. Could Messi’s fifth World Cup really end in the group phase?It took a formation change to a 3-5-2 by the Albiceleste and some trademark Messi magic to provide the answer they sought.“Tata’s groups predominantly have the ball, get lots of numbers into the box, push the wingers high – it was quite the opposite, thus it was quite a closed game,” said Argentine midfielder Rodrigo De Paul. “But I think we had patience.”

Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Many had predicted this would be Argentina’s tournament. It’s Messi’s last dance (most likely) and quite possibly the apex of a group of players who with last year’s Copa America title finally cured their habit of losing finals. Losing to the unfancied Saudis right out of the gate had thrown all that into question, and a country with more psychologists per capita than anywhere on earth is expert at fretting over their team.“This brings us more calmness. After the loss I was very anxious, and wanted to reverse the situation. I really wanted the win,” said Messi, who surprised reporters by taking questions in the postgame mixed zone in addition to his role in the press conference as man of the match.“We have confidence in our group, our team. We haven’t lost much and we can’t reverse that because of just one loss, but it wasn’t easy to come and play against Mexico, which has a great national team, one that plays well, that runs a lot. It was a unique situation because we knew that one loss would make it very hard, and for many this was the second game in a World Cup, and all of that adds up.”

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Messi and Argentina may well mount the march to the final that so many expected them to make; their next chance to display their championship credentials arrives on Wednesday versus Poland. This night’s drama suggests we’ll be on the edge of our seats whatever the outcome.“The feelings of joy and happiness that we won, of course they are there and they enjoy that in the dressing room. But that’s it, tomorrow we will prepare for the next game,” said Scaloni, whose team celebrated raucously in their Lusail locker room long after the final whistle. “We need to find that emotional balance when we win, when we lose.“On top of having great players,” he added, “we have Leo.”

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No goals and no Edson: Three thoughts from Mexico’s World Cup loss to Argentina

Mexico is on the brink of a group-stage exit for the first time since 1978

Mexico couldn’t be eliminated no matter the result of Saturday’s World Cup group match against Argentina, but the 2-0 loss to the South Americans puts El Tri on the brink of their first group stage exit from the World Cup since 1978.After a cagey first half that saw El Tri fluster Argentina in the Copa America champions’ final third, the second saw goals from Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernandez make the difference. Argentina stayed alive in its push to get out of the group stage after a shock loss to Saudi Arabia in the first group game.Here are three thoughts as Mexico now looks to work out a great escape to get out of the group’s basement and into the round of 16 for the eighth consecutive time:

Mexico game plan comes undone in one moment

Mexico set up in a way that was designed to fluster Argentina star Messi and the rest of Argentina’s powerful attack. But this was the type of game where a moment of magic could arrive at any time, in which 30 seconds switched off could make the difference.

That moment arrived in the 64th minute, as Messi took a touch and fired past Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

“We made a mistake that had to do with the three midfielders coming together in the same area as Argentina and when we weren’t able to stop that build and the opponent turned us around, they found Messi alone and he hit the goal from a medium distance, but I don’t think it was a game in which he found a lot of space in the final third,” Martino answered testily after a journalist asked him in the news conference about leaving Messi plenty of space.

“But I also understand that Argentina’s goals can change the view of what happened over the 90 minutes. Normally, that happens because you guys normally analyze results.”

Call it lazy journalism if you must, but the result is what matters here. If Mexico played a terrible match and came away with a 1-0 win, its prospects of getting out of the group and continuing toward its ultimate goal of winning the World Cup would be much stronger.

Going into a match Mexico had a game plan that, as Martino himself said in his news conference, anticipated few attacking opportunities and relied on getting a goal on a set piece or other chance encounter. That sets a team up for failure when, predictably, one of the best players in the world makes a great play.

It’s a strange game to go with that strategy, but it’s what Martino and his staff did. Now, they’re very much working from behind going into the final match.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) 

Midfield eventually breaks down as Martino drops Edson

El Tri kept a three-man midfield but changed personnel as Martino went from a 4-3-3 in the first game to a 5-3-2 in the second. But this change saw Martino drop Edson Alvarez, who has been one of the national team’s most consistent performers.

Reports in Mexico indicate that the Ajax player’s late arrival into Mexico’s camp in Spain before the World Cup meant he didn’t have as much time to get familiar with the formation change, leading Martino to utilize experienced midfielders Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera with Luis Chavez behind them.

While Martino couldn’t have seen the knock to Guardado in the first half coming, it’s been obvious all cycle that Guardado and HH aren’t able to hang with a top team for 90 minutes any longer.

“Edson? Nothing. I understood this was the team that had to start,” Martino said when asked if Alvarez was kept out for an injury or another reason. But he could’ve used the Ajax ace in the middle, especially considering Alvarez has the versatility to slot into the center back line if Martino truly wanted to utilize the midfield trio he had.

The midfielders weren’t the only players to run out of gas.

With the strategy of having typical wingers Hirving “Chucky” Lozano and Alexis Vega start up top and essentially take on the entire Argentina defense on their own, the players both ended up coming off looking worse for the wear.

“We had thought the tiredness of the two forwards was going to be significant, and we’d have to make changes. We trained in that way. We decided on the Vega change, Chucky asked to come out just before the Argentina goal and that’s where we re-accommodated and went to our habitual system taking a guy out of the back five.”

That Martino’s plan took into account the amount of running the two forward players would be doing but apparently not what he was asking from Guardado, HH and Chavez is puzzling. A platoon approach may have worked better or even sacrificing Herrera rather than Alvarez to go with a player more recently asked to shut down top players in the UEFA Champions League.

(AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

Mexico needs goals and goals and goals, but from where?

El Tri’s scenarios to advance are clear and all of them involve, first and foremost, beating Saudi Arabia.

Mexico also could use some help in the other game, though there are ways through with all possible results. If Poland beats Argentina and Mexico gets the win, El Tri advance. If Argentina wins and drives Poland’s goal difference down, Mexico can advance with some goals of its own in a victory. A draw in the other game combined with a Mexico win by four or more also would see Mexico move through in second place.

Clearly, the most likely scenarios to get through involve Mexico not only beating Saudi Arabia, but also scoring more than once. But where are those goals going to come from? After 180 minutes of soccer, Mexico is yet to find the back of the net. It’s clear Raul Jimenez has only about a half-hour in the tank. We’ve yet to see Martino lean on Rogelio Funes Mori. And while Lozano and Vega both have had good performances in each of the first two contests, they both work better with a No. 9 to set up after creating from the wing.

“While we still have a chance, we’ll keep trying. It definitely will be difficult,” Martino said. “The second Poland goal hurt us, and Argentina’s second goal hurt us more.”

It’s true that Enzo Fernandez’s goal was a big blow for Mexico. But Martino knew this was the situation from the moment the draw was revealed. Even still, he left creative players like Diego Lainez off his roster and never made up with Mexico’s all-time leading scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

A game like Saturday’s was screaming for a player who could come off the bench and make something from nothing for himself, or a gritty player in the middle to claw a goal back. Instead, Mexico now is heading into the last match wondering how it can score all the goals it needs to extend its tournament.

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It had to be him: Messi saves Argentina, putting Mexico on the brink

In a game devoid of quality, the legend stepped up with a moment of brilliance

Argentina needed someone to step up and save its World Cup status. It’s not hard to guess who was there to fill the role of hero.

Midway through the second half of a scoreless game against Mexico, one filled with rough challenges and devoid of any attacking quality, Lionel Messi stepped up with a moment of brilliance to make the difference.

Argentina, of course, entered the game on the back of one of the most stunning results in World Cup history: a 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia that left one of the pre-tournament favorites needing to avoid defeat against Mexico, or be eliminated in their second game.

A draw would have left them in a precarious position as well, though. Only three points would really do for the Albiceleste.

For a while on Saturday at Lusail Stadium, those three points looked elusive. Lacking any real attacking threat of its own, Mexico succeeded in turning the game into a slugfest. By the 64th minute, it was difficult to see where the goals would come from for either side.

But that’s when Messi stepped up and did what he does best. Needing just a few feet of space from around 25 yards out, he drove an inch-perfect fizzing low shot into the far corner.

With the game entering its final moments, Enzo Fernández buried an insurance goal to give Argentina a desperately needed 2-0 win.

There’s all to play for in Group C entering the final matches, with Mexico still having a chance to advance despite sitting in last place with one point. Argentina and Saudi Arabia are on three points apiece while Poland tops the group with four.

But Argentina now has a platform to go forward and make the kind of deep run so many expected. Without their superstar, Argentina may have been pondering a much different fate after Saturday’s game.

Watch Messi’s winner vs. Mexico

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No goals but good vibes: Three thoughts from Mexico’s World Cup draw vs. Poland

There were some positive signs from El Tri’s draw against Poland, and also reasons for concern

No goals, no victory but plenty of good vibes. Mexico’s scoreless draw with Poland left the team wanting more, but also hinted that this El Tri may once again be able to get out of the group stage — something that in no way felt like a guarantee after a rocky qualification campaign and build-up to this tournament.

“I saw a lot of high points,” Mexico manager Tata Martino said in his post-match news conference.

Let’s take a look at those bits of good news for El Tri fans, with a bit of bad mixed in as well:

Wide attackers give Mexico new dimension

Would Mexico be able to lift itself up after a 2022 that has seen it sleepwalk through World Cup qualifiers against lesser opposition and struggle in the pre-tournament friendly matches? The answer was yes, as the attack delivered.

Henry Martín did well getting himself into the right spaces as the central forward, but Mexico found its joy out wide. That’s no shock, with star winger Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega both the type of players who can take on defenders. They were able to find moments in which they got on the ball and made something happen — Lozano leading the team in chances created, Vega earning four free kicks and both floating from the sideline to more interior positions in an attempt to break Poland’s defense down.

“I think the two wingers today had a really good game, Lozano on the right and Vega on the left,” Martino said.

Now and then, they’d swap those roles, giving Mexico a level of unpredictability it hasn’t had for most of 2022.

“It was a very closed game. We’ve got the feeling we could’ve gotten a little more, but that’s soccer. We’ll get another chance in a few days,” Vega said.

Despite the tightness of the contest, there were also moments in which Lozano and Vega flashed their creativity and put pressure on Poland’s goal, but Mexico was unable to convert despite getting four shots on target and getting another four off target. Seven of those came from inside the area. Five were taken by Vega.

Vega’s day hints at a breakout showing later in the tournament, but even if this was his high point he proved he could fill in well for the injured Jesus “Tecatito” Corona and gives Mexico a bit of attacking depth it hasn’t shown in this cycle.

He became the star off the field, crying during the singing of Mexico’s national anthem as he thought about the journey he’s been on to get to this point.

“I’m very happy. I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings. It’s my first World Cup,” Vega said. “When we started to sing the anthem, I got goosebumps, some tears came out. I’m really happy. It’s a dream come true from when I was a kid and I’ve got to keep working so it can be a lot more.”

If he keeps putting in performances like Tuesday’s, Vega not only will get more opportunities with the national team but soon will be joining Lozano in Europe.

DOHA, QATAR – NOVEMBER 22: Alexis Vega of Mexico crosses the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 on November 22, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) 

El Tri knows its got cover at the back

Goalkeeper never was going to be a concern for El Tri, even with Martino opting for three seasoned (read, old) goalkeepers rather than finding a spot on his roster for Carlos Acevedo or another potential No. 1 of the future.

Guillermo Ochoa is at the World Cup for the fifth time in his career and played in his fourth tournament, and Mexico knew it would be able to rely on “Memo” to come up big when it needed him. It didn’t know just how badly it would need him until the 58th minute when he read a penalty correctly off the boot of Poland and Barcelona star Robert Lewandowski and made a save that preserved the clean sheet.

“Life has gifted me these moments I can give to my family, my loved ones, Mexican fans,” Ochoa said. “When you start to kick a ball as a kid, you want to play World Cups and make history.

“This is a good step. I want to do it with the group, do something different, and I’d like to keep advancing.”

But Ochoa had some help Tuesday, with Edson Alvarez dominating in the middle of midfield and strong efforts from Jorge Sanchez and Jesus Gallardo at right back and left back after fullback had been a position of weakness in World Cup qualification.

Other than Hector Moreno conceding the penalty, his center backs also kept him from having to see too much of Lewandowski before or after their showdown. Mexico’s back line is hardly perfect, but it did what it needed to do Tuesday, a positive sign before taking on Argentina this weekend.

Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, right, challenges for the ball with Mexico’s Edson Alvarez during the World Cup group C soccer match between Mexico and Poland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) 

This thing is wide open

Going into Tuesday, everyone from the most seasoned expert to the novice picking the group stage on whose flag is the prettiest was ready for Argentina to have three points and the winner of this Mexico game against Poland as the team with the inside track to get out of the group.

Instead, Argentina suffered a stunning defeat to Saudi Arabia, losing 2-1 after Lionel Messi had them ahead in the first 10 minutes from the penalty spot.

It muddied what we thought would be a clear panorama after the first day of the group stage, and made sure there will be high-stakes games Saturday — when Mexico could eliminate Argentina with a win — and on the final day of the group.

“This result doesn’t change anything, but what looked like a final in the first game of the group stage ends up being — for everyone, all four teams in the group — three finals for all of us,” Martino said.

It’s a cliche in Latin American soccer that when it gets down to crunch time, every game is a final. But anyone who hoped Mexico would catch a confident Argentina sleeping or even romp against a poor Saudi squad now must respect that everyone is in the hunt to finish in the top two and advance.

Good news for neutrals, bad news for Mexico fans’ fingernails ahead of a very nervous eight days.

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Tata Martino trudges toward Qatar with end of Mexico tenure coming soon

The Mexico manager appears to be counting down the days until he is no longer the Mexico manager

Tata Martino needs a hug.The Mexico manager just led his team to victory over Peru in a friendly when a moment he had hoped would come for quite some time finally arrived: A reporter asked him something about tactics.“I’ve been waiting four years for someone to ask me a question of that nature. I appreciate you. I’d come give you a hug.” Martino said before joking he should travel to Tijuana, where the reporter is based, to offer all his news conferences.Mexico has hardly embraced Martino, and the loveless marriage is hurtling rapidly toward the date when the parties finally split. Mexico doesn’t want Martino to keep coaching the men’s national team after this World Cup, and the Argentine doesn’t want to spend any more time than necessary leading El Tri.His glee at a reporter actually understanding two relatively basic fundamentals of his style of play (Utilizing two-way midfielders who want to help keep possession and prioritizing a No. 9 who is skilled at dropping to help build attacks rather than finish off plays) show just how weary Martino has become of the questions that typically come from the press corps.That’s not to say there haven’t been extremely tough but fair questions to ask about Mexico. While the team has lost just three of the 16 matches it has played in 2022, that number is padded by friendly matches against teams like Guatemala, Paraguay on a non-FIFA date, and last week’s win against Iraq.Even then, Mexico drew with Guatemala, labored to get past Honduras and El Salvador in the latter stages of World Cup qualification and has often put in flat, uninspiring showings.Fans will still support the team, and the manager still wants to lead his men to World Cup glory, or at least to the quarterfinals, where Mexico hasn’t been since hosting the tournament in 1986. But it feels increasingly unlikely he has the talent needed to achieve that historic breakthrough.Martino is sweating the fitness of Raúl Jiménez, undoubtedly Mexico’s best No. 9 in light of the continued exclusion of all-time leading scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. Jiménez has been trying to work through a groin injury since early September, making the final squad but hardly looking to be at full strength.

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jesús “Tecatito” Corona is missing out on the tournament because of a leg and ankle injury suffered in Sevilla training in August, meaning Mexico could be without two of its top three attackers when the ball rolls in the group opener against Poland next week.It’s an unwanted extra headache for Martino, who already has to deal with a group of center backs prone to individual errors and unseasoned outside backs.Even the way in which he’s choosing to confront the issue has frustrated fans and the press that speaks for many of them. Young forward Santi Giménez, who leads the Europa League with four goals for Feyenoord in 172 minutes and also has a pair of goals in league play, missed out on the roster with Jiménez, Rogelio Funes Mori and América forward Henry Martin occupying the forward places.Martino said the controversy always will be there when the distance between players is so narrow, but claimed Giménez wouldn’t even be in the frame were it not for the national team staff.“If there are two people responsible for bringing Santi into the discussion to be able to have a spot in the World Cup, one is him for everything he’s done, and the other is me because I brought him in when he wasn’t even a starter with Cruz Azul,” Martino said at Mexico’s pre-World Cup camp in Spain. “The reality is Santi is the Europa League’s top scorer but doesn’t have a lot of minutes, he’s played now and then.”

Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not that logic stands up to reason is somewhat beside the point. Martino cuts a frustrated figure, noting that he knows whatever decision he makes is going to generate controversy in the press.For a year after taking over the national team shortly after leading Atlanta United to an MLS Cup win, the pressure of the job didn’t get to Martino. Then came the first loss of his tenure, a shellacking from Argentina that was preceded by Mexico players being photographed enjoying brunch at an Italian restaurant/nightclub in New York City.The slog began there, a gradual trudge toward the end everyone is expecting in Qatar, whether it’s another last-16 defeat or a group-stage exit that would represent the worst finish by a Mexico team in recent memory. Since defeats to the United States in the Concacaf Nations League final and the Gold Cup final in the summer of 2021, the indications are that Martino is ready to move on to his next challenge, tired of wasting his breath explaining his desired style of play and finding the right Mexico players to actually pull it off.It doesn’t help that Mexico is struggling when it matters most, failing to win its last 10 matches against teams ranked in the top 30 of WeGlobalFootball’s propriety rankings.You can put that on Martino and the players, and you would be right. But the manager himself points out that so many of the issues he’s tried to overcome are imposed by the system. Many El Tri players stay in Liga MX rather than going to Europe because of the big money involved in Mexican soccer, which often stunts development. Club owners hold an outsized amount of power in the Mexican setup, often limiting what national team directors and coaches are able to implement.“It’s too bad we don’t look at how things can get better. It’s about the manager, the players, who he selected, who he didn’t pick,” Martino said in a fiery news conference after a 3-2 friendly loss to Colombia. “It’s not the debate Mexico needs to get better as a soccer nation.”Martino isn’t likely to stick around to see if Mexico settles on the right debate and can improve those issues. A return to Argentina, to MLS or even to Paraguay beckon as jobs that would be less frustrating but also where it would be easier to find success.But unless he can find a way to shock France (or Denmark) in the knockout round, fans and those leading Mexican soccer won’t think twice about kicking him to the curb rather than bringing it in for a cozy bear hug.

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Mexico’s World Cup roster is out, and two of its top young players aren’t there

Two of El Tri’s best young attacking talents will not make the trip to Qatar

Mexico has released its 26-player World Cup roster, with young attacking stars Diego Lainez and Santiago Giménez both missing out.

Tata Martino has opted to bring injured striker Raúl Jiménez in his squad, as the Wolves star looks to recover from a troublesome groin injury that has seen him sidelined since August.

Many observers tipped Giménez as a potential replacement for Jiménez. The 21-year-old has hit the ground running after a summer move to Feyenoord, scoring six goals in 18 games for the Dutch power so far.

Lainez, meanwhile, has been tipped as a future Mexico superstar for several years, but his club career has gone off the tracks in recent seasons. The 22-year-old struggled for minutes at Real Betis, and a summer move to Portuguese side Braga has not produced the upturn in fortunes many had anticipated.

The winger has just two starts for Braga in 2022-23, which has cost him a shot at his first World Cup squad.

Lainez and Giménez were in competition with Roberto Alvarado, who did earn a call from Martino due to his strong form in Liga MX with Chivas.

El Tri will be led in attack by Napoli star Hirving Lozano. The midfield will be anchored by veterans Hector Herrera and Andres Guardado, who will be competing in his fifth World Cup.

Mexico will begin World Cup play on November 22 against Poland, before facing Argentina and Saudi Arabia in Group C.

Mexico World Cup roster

Goalkeepers: Rodolfo Cota (Leon), Guillermo Ochoa (Club América), Alfredo Talavera (FC Juarez)

Defenders: Kevin Alvarez (Pachuca), Nestor Araujo (Club América), Gerardo Arteaga (Genk), Jesus Gallardo (Monterey), Hector Moreno (Monterey), Cesar Montes (Monterey), Jorge Sanchez (Ajax), Johan Vasquez (Cremonese)

Midfielders: Edson Alvarez (Ajax), Roberto Alvarado (Chivas), Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul), Luis Chavez (Pachuca), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Erick Gutierrez (PSV), Hector Herrera (Houston Dynamo), Orbelin Pineda (AEK Athens), Carlos Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Luis Romo (Monterey), Hirving Lozano (Napoli)

Forwards: Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterey), Raul Jimenez (Wolves), Henry Martin (Club América), Alexis Vega (Chivas)

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Mexico star Tecatito will miss the World Cup, for real this time

The 29-year-old suffered a serious leg injury in August

Jesús “Tecatito” Corona is finally, officially, out of the World Cup.

The Mexican federation released a statement on Tuesday confirming Tecatito would not be fit for the tournament due to the broken fibula and rupture of his ankle ligaments he suffered in August.

Tecatito, the statement said, “will not be able to be integrated into the Mexico national team heading to the World Cup Qatar 2022,” which was “due to the fact that his recovery process has not been completed after the injury suffered in August of this year.”

The winger had been making faster-than-expected progress in his recovery from the injury, which initially saw him ruled out for 4-5 months.

Mexico still held out hope that a vital part of its attack would make a miraculous comeback for a tournament that was set to start three months after his injury. Head coach Tata Martino named Tecatito to his preliminary 31-man World Cup roster last month, as he aimed to give him as much time as possible to recover.

That move didn’t sit well with Sevilla head coach Jorge Sampaoli, who disputed the notion that Tecatito would have any chance of recovering in time for the World Cup.

Tecatito debuted for Mexico in 2014 and has earned 67 caps to date, scoring 10 goals. He was likely to start in Qatar, giving Martino a selection headache with just two weeks to go until the World Cup begins.

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Amazon drops trailer for ‘Good Rivals,’ its series on USA-Mexico rivalry

The three-part series will debut on Prime Video on November 24

Prime Video has released the trailer for “Good Rivals,” its upcoming three-part series on the rivalry between Mexico and the U.S. men’s national team.

The trailer features some of the biggest names to have taken part in the rivalry, including Landon Donovan, Brian McBride, Alexi Lalas, Rafa Márquez and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández.

Part one of the series will chronicle the early days of the rivalry, which included a 24-game losing streak for the USA to Mexico between 1937 and 1980. Part two will go through the USMNT’s revival, climaxing in a World Cup last-16 win over Mexico in 2002. Part three will document the modern era of the rivalry, beginning in 2016 through the present day.

From the official description:

‘Good Rivals’ will peel back the political, social, and sporting layers of a rivalry that has become must-see TV over the past 30 years. Far more than just a sports documentary, Good Rivals spotlights the personal and professional arcs of stars from each nation, like Landon Donovan (United States) and Rafa Márquez (Mexico), who became symbols of their country’s cultures during their respective careers in the early and mid-2000s. Good Rivals will also examine the passionate, international battle for on-field talent and fan support that has made the U.S.-Mexico border one of the most fascinating soccer frontiers in the world, with players—and families—from both countries becoming the focus of recruiting battles between these two deeply interconnected nations.

“Good Rivals” premieres on Prime Video on November 24. Watch the official trailer below.

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Sevilla coach Sampaoli pours cold water on Mexico’s Tecatito World Cup dream

Mexico has been holding out hope the star winger can recover early from a serious injury

Mexico is still holding out some hope that Jesús “Tecatito” Corona can make an improbable return from injury in time for the World Cup.

But on Thursday, Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli came in with a dose of reality.

Tecatito suffered a broken fibula and a rupture of his ankle ligaments in August, which at the time looked to have ruled him out for the World Cup.

But Mexico still named the Sevilla winger to its 31-man World Cup roster this week, as head Tata Martino continues to give a crucial piece of his attack every opportunity to recover.

Sampaoli, though, doesn’t think Tecatito has any chance of being fit for Qatar.

“Tecatito is progressing day by day, his discharge date to return to training with the group is December 1 or 2,” Sampaoli said.

“So I do not see him having that possibility [of playing at the World Cup] due to the medical report.

“His evolution is good, but he had a very serious injury, and bringing [his return] forward might be a risk. Here, the ones who determine whether he can be there or not are the medical staff.”

Tecatito has 71 caps and 10 goals for Mexico, and looked likely to start for El Tri at the World Cup if he were fit.

Mexico will begin World Cup play on November 22 against Poland before facing Argentina and Saudi Arabia in Group C.

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