Mexico Camp Focus – Final squad announced

Mexico Coach Javier Aguirre has finalised his 23-man squad that he will take to the World Cup. Following the friendlies with the Netherlands and Gambia, Adrian Aldrete and Juan Carlos Valenzuela have been dropped, along with the surprise omission of Jonathan dos Santos. The announcement from the Mexican Football Federation stated: “The Barcelona player Jonathan dos Santos has been removed from the squad and will not participate at the World Cup.” The decision not to include dos Santos means the squad contains one less recognised midfielder, but the recent displays of Pablo Barrera on the right-hand side of midfield were enough to convince Aguirre that he could sacrifice dos Santos. However, dos Santos’ omission isn’t quite a simple as that, after his older brother Giovani – who was picked – threatened to walk out over the exclusion. Whether he’ll sacrifice his own World Cup dream for the sake of family loyalty remains to be seen, but its certainly a worry for Aguirre.

The axing comes as a bitter blow to dos Santos who at just 20 was looking to feature in his first senior World Cup with the Aztecas. Dos Santos’ final audition for a place in the squad came in the 5-1 win over Gambia, where he played the whole game in central midfield alongside Andres Guardado. He was regularly involved in all Mexican attacks but has been unsuccessful in attempting to challenge the first choice pairing of Gerardo Torrado and Rafael Marquez.

The decision confirms that the injury to Guillermo Franco isn’t considered to be serious and the 33-year-old will be hoping to be involved in Thursday’s friendly with Italy to prove his fitness ahead of the World Cup curtain raiser with host nation South Africa. With dos Santos missing out, Mexico can boast a number of attacking options, with several of them finding goal scoring form just at the right time. Javier Hernandez has notched three goals in his last two games, while Adolfo Bautista’s brace against Gambia has further enhanced his chances of a starting place. But as the axe fell on the younger of the dos Santos brothers, Cuauhtemoc Blanco has been given one final chance on international football’s biggest stage. The Veracruz forward had been below par in recent outings but Blanco has overcome fitness concerns to take his place in the squad. The tournament would be a fitting end to an impressive international career in which he has scored 38 goals. And having helped the Aztecas through qualification after coming out of international retirement, Blanco will be determined to make his mark in the tournament itself.

Aldrete and Valenzuela being left out was all but confirmed before the squad announcement as neither were named as substitutes in Sunday’s win over Gambia, magnifying the difficulty of Aguirre’s final choice to miss out. Both had been part of the squad since the mid-April training camp, indicating that the pair had sufficient time in order to impress their Coach. Valenzuela had done his chances no harm in the early stages of Mexico’s preparations, having starred in the 1-0 victory over Angola. But since the Aztecas headed to Europe for the second part of their World Cup build-up, the 26-year-old midfielder has failed to feature.

Aguirre’s squad remains based in Germany ahead of the friendly with the Azzurri. Aguirre has one final chance to prepare for the World Cup against tough opposition. But the Italians pose a different threat to that of England or Holland, they are a more methodical, calculating side. The game will provide Aztecas with another opportunity to work on their counter-attacking system, as Marcello Lippi’s men are expected to dictate the tempo of the game. Following the match they will head to South Africa where the squad has a week together before the clash with the tournament hosts, allowing the final 23 to showcase their talents once more before Aguirre names his starting XI for the opening game.

Mexico World Cup squad

Goalkeepers

Guillermo Ochoa (America)
Oscar Perez (Chiapas)
Luis Ernesto Michel (Guadalajara)

Defenders

Jonny Magallon (Guadalajara)
Efrain Juarez (Pumas)
Ricardo Osorio (Stuttgart)
Francisco Rodriguez (PSV Eindhoven)
Rafael Marquez (Barcelona)
Carlos Salcido (PSV Eindhoven)
Jorge Torres Nilo (Atlas)
Hector Moreno (AZ Alkmaar)
Paul Aguilar (Pachuca)

Midfielders

Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul)
Israel Castro (Pumas)
Andres Guardado (Deportivo La Coruna)
Alberto Medina (Guadalajara)
Adolfo Bautista (Guadalajara

Forwards

Carlos Vela (Arsenal)
Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Veracruz)
Guillermo Franco (West Ham)
Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)
Pablo Barrera (Pumas))
Giovani dos Santos (Galatasaray)

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