Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio announced his preliminary 28-man squad for the World Cup on Monday and Rafael Marquez made the list, thus giving the 39-year-old defender a bigger chance of appearing in his fifth tournament. 

By Luis Miguel Echegaray
May 14, 2018

Mexico legend Rafael Marquez was included in Juan Carlos Osorio's provisional list for the World Cup, meaning that the 39-year-old defender is on course on appearing in his fifth tournament, a record only achieved by could his countryman Antonio Carbajal and German legend Lothar Matthäus.

Despite his issues with the U.S. Treasury for alleged ties to a drug-trafficking organization, which eventually paused his playing days for Atlas and the national team, Marquez claimed his innocence throughout. After his lawyers managed to unfreeze his assets in the U.S, and once the Mexican federation allowed for him to be picked, Osorio made the call on Monday. His selection to the provisional list, however, is hardly a surprise, given the fact that more names have to be dropped before the final list is announced in June.

If, however, Marquez makes the final roster, it comes with question marks. As a player, no one doubts what he has given to the Mexican national team both on and off the field. Players idolize and respect his leadership and perhaps that's exactly what a talented albeit often anxious Mexico needs this summer, especially in a group that includes the reigning World Cup champion Germany or a hungry, organized Sweden looking to make a mark without Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But given his age and lack of pace, is Marquez taking a spot from someone else who is willing to prove his worth? The multidimensional Rodolfo Pizarro, for example, who played a key role in Chivas's CONCACAF Champions League title will not be heading to Russia. Neither is Jonathan Gonzalez, the Monterrey midfielder who switched his allegiance from the US to Mexico earlier this year. At just 19, however, and with tremendous talent, he has a long way to go and there's little doubt in thinking he won't feature for Mexico in the future. Time will tell what happens with Marquez, but one thing is certain: players welcome his inclusion with open arms. 

An interesting pick is Pachuca's Erick Gutierrez, the talented left-footed player who Osorio said could be Andres Guardado's direct replacement for El Tri. We'll see if he ends up making the final roster.

All in all, no other major surprises as it looks as if the manager is going to rely heavily on his talented, flexible forwards and hope the chemistry in the middle eventually turns into consistency.

Full provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul)

Defenders: Diego Reyes (FC Porto), Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad), Oswaldo Alanis (Getafe), Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Miguel Layun (Sevilla), Jesus Gallardo (Pumas), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Edson Alvarez (America)

Midfielders: Hector Herrera (Porto), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Rafa Marquez (Atlas), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt), Jesus Molina (Monterrey), Erick Gutierrez (Pachuca), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)

Forwards: Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jesus "Tecatito" Corona (Porto), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Oribe Peralta (Club America), Javier Hernandez (West Ham United), Carlos Vela (LAFC), Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven), Jurgen Damm (Tigres)

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