The Mexico squad is preparing for two pivotal friendlies over the international break as Juan Carlos Osorio continues to hone his players ahead of picking his World Cup roster. There are a few spots remaining for the trip to Russia, but not many. Therefore, there are players with plenty to prove against Iceland and Croatia.
ESPN FC have some ideas as to who needs a good break in order to book a ticket to the World Cup.
This might sound slightly out of left field given that Chivas center-back Alanis was only brought into this squad due to injuries to Javier Aquino and Jurgen Damm. But Osorio has tried time and time again to hand Alanis opportunities, and this represents the 29-year-old's last chance.
Osorio is desperate to name a left-footed center-back to his squad for Russia 2018 as a backup for Hector Moreno, but he won't do so just for the sake of it, with right-footed Nestor Araujo playing the position comfortably at club side Santos Laguna. Alanis -- who is set to move to Spain this summer -- didn't look up to the task when he started against Germany in the semifinal of the Confederations Cup last summer but has picked up some form in the last couple of games with Chivas and will be looking to prove to Osorio that his faith in bringing him in for one last chance isn't misguided.
You could also make a strong case for Monterrey's Jesus Molina, who remains the closest pure defensive midfielder Mexico has in the mold that Osorio seems to want. Molina is good in the air and a strong tackler, and although his passing range is limited, he may still be able to persuade Osorio that it's worth taking a punt on him. -- Tom Marshall
Jonathan Gonzalez is just 19 years old and completed a whirlwind international switch that dominated headlines in both the United States and Mexico. That's enough pressure on the Monterrey midfielder, who has once again been called up to represent El Tri in the coming fixtures.
Injuries to Jonathan dos Santos and a general carousel from Juan Carlos Osorio at the central midfielder position opens the door for Gonzalez to step up and claim a spot before the final list is announced. As he has shown at the domestic level, Gonzalez is a capable defender who also has an eye to generate offensive play.
Gonzalez is also multifaceted. Though he is unproven at the international level, he can play a variety of positions in the midfield and the wing, offering Osorio options to use him both as a starter or off the bench if need be. At this point in time, it would appear that Mexico has about 80 to 90 percent of its roster decisions already made. Fortunately for Gonzalez, one of the lingering doubts is central midfield.
After a so-so debut with El Tri, there's no better time to convince the coaching staff he should be on the plane to Russia this summer. -- Eric Gomez
Unlike the other Europe-based options from the Mexico call-up, there is no guaranteed place in the World Cup roster for the 22-year-old midfielder currently at Royal Excel Mouscron in Belgium. Regardless of the fact that Osorio tends to favor players who ply their trade abroad, Govea is an outlier due to his notable lack of experience with the national team.
With only one cap earned since his El Tri debut in November, the Mexico international still has plenty to prove in the midfield. Speaking of which, Govea also has competition with backup players who share similar midfield roles.
Whether it be through the likes of Jesus Molina, Jonathan Gonzalez or a few others, there will be no shortage of midfielders eager to win over and impress Osorio. Keeping in mind that usual starters such as Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera are also involved, Govea might not be given many minutes to shine on the pitch.
What this means is that the Europeo must take full advantage of his time with El Tri. If Govea is hoping to sneak into Mexico's Russia 2018 squad, it's imperative that he stands out during training sessions and the upcoming friendlies this month. If not, there are multiple other fringe figures who will have no problem taking his place. -- Cesar Hernandez