For a team short on creativity, losing Jesus Corona is definitely a blow for Mexico. The Sevilla winger suffered a fractured fibula earlier this week and reports point to a recovery time of 4-5 months. Seeing as Mexico opens their World Cup against Poland in 3 months, Tata will need to find a replacement to start.
- Uriel Antuna: 6 games during WCQ
- Alexis Vega: 9 games during WCQ
- Diego Lainez: 3 games during WCQ
- Marcelo Flores: 0
We know Hirving Lozano and Raul Jimenez are going to be up top for Mexico but their 3rd attacking partner is now up in the air. Even if Mexico’s attack was not clicking, Corona will be tough to replace. He started 8 of Mexico’s World Cup Qualifiers and saw action in 13 of the 14 games. Overall, Tecatito saw more minutes during WCQ than Vega/Antuna/Lainez combined.
I’ve seen some reporters say there’s a “chance” Tecatito is back in time for Qatar but Tata will need to submit his roster by October 13th. It would be risky to burn a spot on a player who will likely have gone over 3 months between competitive games. Granted, Mexico will have 26 spots instead of the usual 23 but it would still be risky.
So what will Tata do?
I’m guessing he will slot Vega on the left wing to go along with Jimenez and Lozano. This keeps Lainez and Antuna as options off the bench and increases the chances of Flores making the final 26 man roster. Vega has started the new LigaMX season on a tear for Chivas, scoring 1, assisting on 3 other goals and supplying his teammates with nearly 3 key passes per game. He also has the benefit of starting alongside Raul and Lozano during qualifying.
Lainez has shown he can be a spark offensively for Mexico but his lack of club minutes have given Tata a reason to keep him on the bench for Mexico. The Club America product only saw 83 minutes during Mexico’s WCQs but can give Tata a lot of positional flexibility off the bench in Qatar. Its that flexibility that could make him the perfect first attacking sub in Qatar. Antuna will be on the plane to Qatar but I don’t think he should start over Vega/Lainez. His value is when he can attack a tired backline, not playing all 90 minutes.
Corona’s absence will give a boost to Marcelo’s chances of making the final roster but I dont’ think he has a chance to start in Qatar. Assuming he sees consistent minutes in Spain this season, he should be one of the last men on the roster. What I don’t want Tata to do is start Orbelin Pineda on the wing under any scenario. Pineda has a good shot as a central midfielder but is ineffective on the wings and tends to drift towards the center anyway. Even then, I would take him over the Rodolfo Pizarro Experience….