There are plenty of talking points that came out of Oklahoma State’s 43-37 road win over Kansas State.Mason Rudolph put up the second-highest passing total of his career with 457 yards (fourth-highest in OSU history).The Cowboys were careless with the ball, coughing up three turnovers and committed some inopportune penalties on the road against a team that’s almost impossible to beat when you beat yourself.But one of the most surprising of talking points should be the Cowboys’ effectiveness running the ball.Oklahoma State was able to put up 180 rushing yards on a team that ranks first in the Big 12 in rushing defense. After Saturday’s game, Kansas State is still No. 12 nationally allowing 110.89 yards per game. The Wildcats started Saturday allowing only 102.25 yards per game.The 180-yard performance is not exactly staggering but was a good sign for a Cowboy team still trying to find its way on the ground. It was their third-highest rushing total of the year behind only the Baylor game (213 yards) and Kansas game (228 yards).The Cowboys averaged 6.9 yards per carry, thanks mostly to Chris Carson’s 9.9-yard average on seven carries and chunk-yardage runs from Rennie Childs and Barry J. Sanders. That 6.92 yard average is the best single-game average for the Cowboys since the 2013 Iowa State game.The biggest run of the day was undoubtedly Chris Carson’s go-ahead touchdown dragging two defenders 10-plus yards to the end zone to put the Cowboys up for good.Carson has been downright fantastic since coming back from a hand injury he sustained in Week 2 against Central Michigan. Since returning three weeks ago, Carson has averaged 7.2 yards per carry and has four touchdowns (three rushing) in three games.“I was proud of our ability to run the football,” said Mike Gundy after the game. “I thought Chris Carson was excellent. I thought twenty-seven was excellent.”The Cowboy running game is by no means where they want it but the gradual improvement of the offensive line and the emergence of Justice Hill should give Cowboy fans plenty to look forward to. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Oklahoma State scored seemingly at will on Thursday evening in the Alamo Bowl and pummeled Colorado on defense. Mike Yurcich called one of the best games of his career. Glenn Spencer pushed every correct button. The result was one of the best wins of the last few years over a top 10 team in a bowl game.Here is a look back at some of the best plays from Thursday night. El Presidente. pic.twitter.com/iR21SdKgbB— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) December 30, 2016 What a hit. What a night. pic.twitter.com/QH6hbhSlEq— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) December 30, 2016 Joe Bob loves that 4th down stop. https://t.co/WlPi30cWnJ— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) December 30, 2016 Dimes on dimes on dimes. pic.twitter.com/Z2cggctOOA— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) December 30, 2016 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. The Oklahoma State Cowgirl soccer team is getting a stunning new stadium because of a donation from booster Neal Patterson who is the CEO of a company called Cerner Corporation and makes a lot of money. He is also part of a group that owns the Sporting Kansas City MLS team.Patterson’s name will go on the new facility. Construction on the 3,500-seat stadium has already begun and is slated to be completely finished for the 2018 season.“When you provide an education to someone with intelligence, work ethic, determination and big dreams, you occasionally create a force that changes the world,” said athletic director Mike Holder in a statement. “Neal Patterson has done that in the health care industry and our goal is to use his investment in OSU soccer to attract bright, determined, big dreamers from around the world to our soccer team.“We have been blessed to have an abundance of successful and generous people that have helped transform our athletic department,” he added. “Our hope is that Neal’s gift will motivate someone else to make a difference on our campus. His name on the stadium is our way of saying thank you and inspiring that next great donor.”Sounds like a request to finish the baseball stadium which has been “almost completed” since Washington crossed the Delaware. But seriously, this is awesome for Cowgirl soccer. It’s a big time program (six Big 12 titles since 2003) that had little time facilities (i.e. a glorified intramural field) to play on.“A facility of this magnitude is a game changer for our program,” said OSU head soccer coach Colin Carmichael. “It helps the current student-athletes to be in one of the nicest facilities in the country. Our fans are going to have a much better game day experience. We want it to be a real family atmosphere.“We have always had a good student following,” he added. “But we want to enhance their experience, which will make for a better atmosphere. And of course this will affect recruiting.The photos of what this will all look like are stunning as is the site that houses the entirety of the project. Good on Patterson for the donation, and good on Cowgirl soccer for stepping into a bright future.
In what is apparently the first of three video clips coming down the pike from OSU, Oklahoma State’s most inexperienced coach sat down with arguably its most. Predictably, the latter had some advice for the former.Days after signing a “lifetime” extension with his alma mater, Gundy ran the orchestrated face-to-face chat like he would a team meeting. Mike Boynton held his own as the two talked about coaching, impacting players outside the sport and more.The questionnaire was obviously scripted and answers most assuredly canned. But the best part about Mike Gundy — and Boynton from what we can tell so far — is that you still believe what they are saying 100 percent.AdChoices广告Check out the video below. And listen to Gundy’s confidence in Mike Boynton’s recruiting chops. (6-foot-10!!)Toughness is being able to lead despite adverse conditions. That’s true whether you’re from Midwest City or Brooklyn. #okstate (Part 1 of 3) pic.twitter.com/zn9bRGSGl2— Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) June 16, 2017 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Mason Rudolph did well in his first year with full rein of the offense. Minus what would be a costly red-zone interception against Central Michigan, his numbers were solid. He’s not the run threat that J.W. Walsh was but Mike Gundy has said he’d love to find someone else who is for certain packages.That role could be possibly be filled by wide receiver Dillon Stoner who was great in his extremely small (one snap) sample size in the red zone. It is telling that Gundy and Yurcich trusted a true freshman to take a snap in his second game. He lined up behind center twice in his four games. Don’t be surprised to see it again. He may be the most versatile athlete on the roster if the talk from practice is any indicator.Red-Zone Catches Mason Rudolph26/4656.5%131183.8 John Kolar1/250.0%0083.6 Jalen McCleskey0/10.0%000.0 Jeff Carr210 PlayerAttempts/CompletionsCompletion %TDsINTsPasser Rating The Cowboys have several returning red-zone threats in their star-studded receiving corps. It’s never a bad idea to get James Washington the ball and McCleskey is a great option out of the slot. Chris Lacy was ultra-efficient with all three of his catches making it into the end zone.Marcell Ateman’s return offers another big option for “70/30” balls Mason Rudolph calls them. Ateman was the Cowboys’ leading red-zone receiver with five catches and paid those off with four scores.Red-Zone Rush Attempts PlayerCatchesTDs Marcell Ateman (2015)54 Jalen McCleskey73 John Kolar100 James Washington100 The Cowboys need to replace a lot in this department. Chris Carson, Rennie Childs and Barry J. Sanders accounted for 51 attempts in the red zone which led to 17 touchdowns. Carson was the team leader with nine. And they have yet to name a backup to Justice Hill who is beefed up over the offseason but is still not the pound-it-up-the-middle option that even Chris Carson could be.Rudolph has shown some ability to keep the ball and get six but has struggled with fumble issues — half of his six fumbles were in the red zone. And then there’s the increased risk of injury which is a prospect no one in (or in support of) the program wants to think about. He played over half last season with an injury he sustained doing his best human-projectile bit against Texas.With all these playmakers and an improved offensive line, there is no reason Oklahoma State can’t get better in the score zone. PlayerAttemptsTDsFumbles (Lost) James Washington74 Dillon Stoner1/1100.0%10446.8 The Oklahoma State offense could be otherworldly in 2017. Mason Rudolph is an elite quarterback with an elite group of wide receivers to throw to. Justice Hill packed on enough offseason muscle to ensure his freshman 11 (-hundred yards) doesn’t get followed up by a sophomore slump. The offensive line should be better and potential backup QBs and RBs are being evaluated as we speak.But there is one facet of Oklahoma State’s offense that could use some improvement — red-zone effectiveness.The Cowboys ranked in the middle of the Big 12 in terms of red-zone effectiveness, based on points per red-zone attempt. If the Cowboys want to take the next step, they’ll need to be able to take advantage of those trips into enemy territory.AdChoices广告“You can always be better in the red zone and the score zone,” Rudolph said during Big 12 Media Days. “There’s a lot of times last year, fade balls and incompletions there and different schemes. Decision-making is so key down there.“The ability to extend the play and get a couple of those scramble drill points down there in the score zone is key, and that’s something we’ve worked on.”So, we know the Cowboys would like to be more effective in the score zone. Let’s take a look at the red-zone weapons they have to work with and why they could be improved on this front in 2017.I’ve divided up the players by passing, receiving and rushing to see who the best options are based on last year’s numbers. Of course, these don’t include newcomers like several freshman skill players that could see the field and LSU transfer Tyron Johnson. For the record, Johnson had one red-zone catch for eight yards as a true freshman at LSU.First, let’s look at red-zone passing numbers.Red-Zone Pass Attempts Mason Rudolph2263 (2) Justice Hill3441 (1) Chris Lacy33 Taylor Cornelius210 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Real Madrid Figo demands time for under-pressure Real Madrid boss Zidane Ryan Benson 01:30 28/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Real Madrid Primera División Espanyol v Real Madrid Espanyol Zinédine Zidane Lionel Messi The Merengue coach has attracted criticism as a result of the team’s recent struggles, but his old team-mate is adamant he is right for the job. Luis Figo believes some of the criticism levelled at Zinedine Zidane this season has been unfair, suggesting Real Madrid’s detractors have forgotten his previous achievements too quickly.Zidane enjoyed a brilliant start to his coaching career at the Santiago Bernabeu, leading Madrid to Champions League success within five months of replacing the sacked Rafael Benitez in January 2016.He then guided Madrid to a Champions League and LaLiga double in his first full season in charge, helping the club become the first to win Europe’s elite competition in its current guise for two straight years. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp This term things have been somewhat more troublesome, with Madrid’s transfer activity coming under criticism and they head in to Tuesday’s away league clash with Espanyol 14 points adrift of leaders Barcelona.And, although Figo acknowledges pressure is something every Real Madrid coach needs to accept, he is adamant his former team-mate is the right man for the club.Speaking to Omnisport, Figo said: “The coach of Real Madrid is always under pressure and you know that you depend always on results.”People forget very fast what you achieved in the recent past.”Zinedine Zidane deserves more time at Real Madrid despite their troubles this season, according to Luis Figo.#RealMadrid #LaLiga pic.twitter.com/bTi1aPJMQw— Omnisport (@OmnisportNews) February 27, 2018″But sport is like that. For me, you can win every year. But since he picked the team, I think he did fantastic, great.”But the problem normally in football is it depends on what you do in the last games.”People forget very fast what you achieved in the recent past. But I think the people are happy, the players are happy with him and that is the most important.”Part of the reason Madrid are so far behind Barca this season is the form of Lionel Messi, who has been sensational, scoring 22 and setting up another 12 in 25 LaLiga appearances.And his impressive performances have not escaped Figo, who lauded him as “one of the greatest of all time”.”It’s amazing what he is achieving and I think every time he doesn’t surprise us because he makes amazing things every game,” Figo added.”So this is very beautiful what he does in terms of football and his career. He’s one of the greatest footballers of all-time.”
UEFA Champions League Why world-class Dembele has been compared to Ronaldinho and Maradona Peter Staunton Click here to see more stories from this author Chief Correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 16:00 7/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(9) Getty UEFA Champions League Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United Juventus Tottenham Hotspur Newcastle United Premier League Opinion The 30-year-old has taken his time in coming to prominence in central midfield but his performances have been at an outstanding standard this year Mauricio Pochettino said last month that if he and his coaching team had got hold of Mousa Dembele when he was 18 or 19 he would have gone on to become of one the best footballers in the world.He compared the midfielder to Jay-Jay Okocha, Diego Maradona, Ivan De La Pena and Ronaldinho – all ex-teammates of the Tottenham manager – describing him as one of the five “genius” players he has had the pleasure of encountering in his career.Dembele’s ability on the ball has never been in doubt but it has been other factors limiting his potential. As an attacker, when he first came to England, he was not productive enough. He played throughout his time in the Netherlands with AZ as a No. 10 or a wide attacker and was signed with that in mind by Fulham. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Futhermore, long-standing ankle problems were only rectified with surgery last summer and a long ban impeded his start to that campaign.But gradually his development into a deep-lying player – who often comes into contact with the ball – has taken place over the course of the last three seasons under Pochettino. This calendar year in particular Dembele has found himself as the focus of an increasing appreciation society.Spurs had a run of tough fixtures a few weeks back in which four of five games came against Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus – in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.Dembele was arguably man of the match in all four. At the Juventus Stadium he ran the show, leaving Sami Khedira memorably trailing in his wake with one second-half shimmy.Pochettino, and Roberto Martinez, his Belgium manager for that matter, have no qualms about trusting Dembele in that position in tough away encounters like that, as evidenced by his selection for a qualifier against Greece in Piraeus in September.One thing he gives his teams – and what he could give any midfield – is a unique ability to tilt the pitch at will. Most deep midfielders take possession of the ball in the middle third and look to circulate the ball quickly.Dembele will quite often draw opponents in and seek to dribble. If he goes by one opponent, just one, then that is enough to ensure Spurs have a numerical advantage elsewhere on the field.The next pass may go to Christian Eriksen – in space outside the opposition box – or to one of the full-backs on the overlap. But it is unquestionable that initial instigation with a dummy, a feint or a dribble puts rivals on the back foot.Not only that but he is tough as nails. A strong lower body gives him the balance and the resilience to protect the ball and hold off opponents no matter what situation he finds himself in.A youth spent playing small-sided court football gives him that extra advantage, according to those who know his qualities well. He is also brave in possession and always looks for the ball.A video was doing the rounds on social media recently where a number of Spurs players were asked to name the best player at the club. Dele Alli, Victor Wanyama, Danny Rose and Harry Winks all plumped for Dembele.That’s because he’s the type of player that can be trusted in possession and his good-natured personality mean he is respected as a silent leader in the dressing room.His presence allows teams to dictate the tempo of the play – particularly important for sides like Spurs and Belgium who demand most of the possession – and is incisive and penetrative with his passes in the final third.As Spurs are more likely to encounter well-structured defensive units given their improvement in possession under Pochettino, Dembele becomes an increasingly influential figure. Every single Spurs player we’ve interviewed says Dembele is the best player at the club!Is he the most underrated player in the Premier League? pic.twitter.com/McPrmButGZ — Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) February 20, 2018 His colleagues in an attacking sense appreciate his constant availability – and presence of mind to find space – as well as his ability to run games in-play.It can be hard to get attention in this Spurs team given the goal-scoring exploits of Harry Kane and the focus that goes on Dele Alli. Son Heung-Min, too, is in the form of his life, while the consistency of Eriksen is rarely overlooked.That means Dembele is free to work relatively unencumbered by expectations on scoring goals or giving assists. He is not harassed from the outside in going about his midfield work.It may have taken a while but the time to sing Dembele’s praises has come.
World Cup VAR set to ruin World Cup after Australian experiment fail Kieran Francis @kieran_francis Last updated 1 year ago 21:04 7/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty/Goal composite World Cup A-League Opinion The Video Assistant Referee will feature at the World Cup but it will be a complete disaster if its trial in Australia is anything to go by Dear The World,Trust us – the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is going to ruin the World Cup in Russia.Love, Australia. Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp The A-League wouldn’t mean much to the regular football fan worldwide. Some may know it as where Alessandro Del Piero landed after Juventus, or the league where Dwight Yorke and Robbie Fowler migrated to in their late 30s.But the Australian domestic league was the first professional competition to use the VAR in a competitive match in April 2017, with a trial of the technology being adopted for the A-League since it’s introduction.After announcing that VAR is set to be part of the World Cup, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the technology is ‘almost perfect’.”I would say to the fans, players and coaches that it will have an impact, a positive impact. That is what the results of the study show,” Infantino said.”From almost 1,000 live matches that were part of the experiment, the level of the accuracy increased from 93% to 99%. It’s almost perfect.”Clearly the Swiss-Italian administrator didn’t take much notice of the reaction to the VAR trial Down Under in Australia.In fact, you will struggle to find a positive word about the trial from any fan, player, coach or journalist involved in Australian football.Yes, some incorrect decisions have been overturned. But the issue is with the process – firstly with the length of time it takes when the VAR is used.Regularly a VAR intervention has caused a break in play for minutes, causing fans to become frustrated and restless, but also meaning a team can lose pressure and momentum it had been building against its opposition.Just on the weekend we saw Argentine star Ezequiel Lavezzi miss a penalty for Chinese side Hebei China Fortune after a three minute, 45 second break caused by the VAR.In addition to time issues, the VAR is also causing angst with the type of decisions it is making.Obviously clear-cut offsides and fouls are easy for the VAR to adjudicate on, but what about decisions that require interpretation? Isn’t the game just being re-refereed in this case?Central Coast Mariners coach Paul Okon made his feelings clear on the system after two of his players were sent off by it during a match in December.”If you came to this game tonight and you left here no longer in love with football, who could blame you?” Okon said post-match.”I think it’s probably what everyone is talking about and that’s not the reason why people are turning up watching – it’s not why we turn up to play and coach.”The sentiment was echoed, with a little less emotion, by Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino at the start of this month.After there were three VAR interventions in the first half of Spurs FA Cup victory over Rochdale, Pochettino warned the VAR in its current form will not help football and that the fans are not happy about it.“The first half was embarrassing for everyone. I am not sure that the system [VAR] is going to help,” the Argentine said in his post-match press conference.”We love the game that we know. Football is about emotion, we want to keep the emotion. The fans are not so happy about what they have seen today.”But if my opinion is important, there is a lot of work to do [with the VAR]. We need to talk, to explain. Because today every one of us was confused.”This will not help the football. If we use this system we need to be sure.”Unfortunately for the football world, Infantino and other football administrators seem to be so sure, while the majority of other stakeholders are wary.Imagine if Cristiano Ronaldo is sent off in a World Cup semi-final for a borderline challenge deemed by the officiating referee to be a yellow card, but a red card by the VAR?Imagine a World Cup final blighted by four or five lengthy, confusing VAR stoppages?From the wave of critics in Australia to esteemed personalities such as Pochettino to countless examples of fan frustration to headline-grabbing issues – all the evidence points to a VAR system that is not even close to perfect.So why is it going to be used at football’s showpiece event?
Cristiano Ronaldo Ronaldo battles ‘nothing personal’ to PSG star Dani Alves Chris Burton 18:29 12/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Cristiano Ronaldo Neymar PSG Real Madrid Ligue 1 Primera División The former Barcelona defender has locked horns with the Real Madrid talisman on a regular basis down the years, but insists he has nothing against him Dani Alves insists a long-running duel with Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is “nothing personal” following their last coming together.Having previously found themselves on opposite sides of a Clasico divide in Spain, the pair have locked swords at regular intervals.Dani Alves was never afraid to put his boot in while on the books of Barcelona, while he also came up against the Portuguese in the 2017 Champions League final as Real downed Juventus. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Their rivalry was recently rekindled in a European showdown between Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, with Dani Alves accused of wiping snot on an old adversary.The Brazilian has strenuously denied those allegations and reiterated that his personal battle with Ronaldo has been overplayed, telling Esporte Espectacular: “It is part of the game, heat of the moment, part of football and nothing personal.”He added on the accusations levelled at him following his latest meeting with Ronaldo: “Thank God that my son does not like football, because football is losing the essence which made me want to be a player.”Look at the game with Real Madrid, for example. They have said that I put snot on Cristiano’s shirt. Is it me or are the people saying these things three years old? It’s stupidity without limit.”PSG came unstuck against Ronaldo and Real over the course of two legs, with a 5-2 aggregate defeat seeing the French side fall at the last-16 stage of this season’s Champions League.Their cause was rocked by an untimely injury to €222 million superstar Neymar ahead of the second leg of that continental contest, with the Brazil international having been forced to undergo surgery on a broken metatarsal.Dani Alves is among those to have been credited with luring a fellow countryman to Paris in a record-breaking deal, but he has once again played down such claims.He said: “People think that Neymar is a puppet, but children grow up and make their own decisions. “He is growing, maturing and learning to deal with difficult moments.”Like Neymar, Dani Alves claims his decision to join PSG was driven purely by sporting ambition, although the 34-year-old concedes that the money in football, from which he and his team-mates are benefiting, has spiralled out of control.The legendary full-back added: “I came to PSG for the sports project, for how they have valued me as a footballer.“But if I am very honest, I do not think my salary is in line with my value – it is too much.”
Mexico Who will Mexico call for March friendly matches vs. Iceland and Croatia? Jon Arnold Click here to see more stories from this author @ArnoldcommaJon Last updated 1 year ago 23:22 13/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Chris Covatta Mexico World Cup Mexico v Iceland Mexico v Croatia Croatia Iceland Friendlies With the March friendly window providing one of the last chances for Juan Carlos Osorio to see his players in person, it will be a crucial call-up This week, Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio will announce his squad to face Iceland and Croatia, his final call-up before bringing players into camp once the European season ends and naming his World Cup roster.It will be the best indication we’ve had since the 2017 Confederations Cup of where Osorio sees the group. Who does he want to have in Russia? Is he prizing versatility over players who are really good at one thing but not as good at others? Will have give chances to some of the younger players on the fringe? Or with most of his decisions already made, is it time to get down to business and start working together toward the goals of getting out of the group, getting to the fifth game and ultimately lifting the World Cup? We’ll receive big clues this week.In all likelihood, Osorio will call more than 23 players, but we’re going to keep our projection to 23 and allow that a couple more could travel, allowing more opportunities for the coaching staff to see different players and, yes, for rotation. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp GoalkeepersGuillermo Ochoa, Jesus Corona, Alfredo TalaveraThis trio seems the most likely to go to Russia, and it would stand to reason they all would be invited into this camp. It will be fascinating to see how Osorio will approach the goalkeeping situation. Alfredo Talavera is back from the knee injury that sidelined him for several months but hasn’t looked all that great for Toluca.Does Osorio toss him out against Iceland to see how he responds against a team likely to play a more direct style of soccer, the kind of game in which he’s used Talavera before? Does he give Ochoa a full game and give the other two guys a half each in the other? Is it all Memo all the time? Rotating the goalkeeper was one of Osorio’s ideas which he has discarded with experience, but it’s reasonable to expect to see all three faces during this window. DefendersHector Moreno, Nestor Araujo, Diego Reyes, Carlos Salcedo, Miguel Layun, Jesus GallardoHere they are. Your Mexico defenders at the 2018 World Cup.Sure, plenty could change, but this looks like it will be the group Osorio takes. Moreno’s fitness was in question after a training-ground injury with new club Real Sociedad forced him to miss a few contests but his goal against Alaves last week and 90 minutes against Espanyol last weekend have assuaged fears he’d miss out. Diego Reyes has become a regular for Porto, more or less. Miguel Layun’s club situation is better, with the defender now at Sevilla.Luis Rodriguez was impressive against Bosnia and Herzegovina last month but currently is out with an injury. Edson Alvarez has seen a bit more time with America lately, but it’s fair to wonder if falling out of Miguel Herrera’s first team will end the World Cup dream for the 20-year-old (he’ll have more chances to go to a World Cup). We didn’t include him, but don’t be surprised to see Hugo Ayala in the mix as well. The Tigres center back has been solid if not spectacular when he’s suited up for El Tri. Club form is sort of secondary, though. These are Mexico’s best defenders. Period. MidfieldersAndres Guardado, Hector Herrera, Jonathan dos Santos, Javier Aquino, Marco Fabian, Omar Govea, Jonathan GonzalezAndres Guardado is back in Real Betis training but didn’t appear in Monday’s win over Alaves. It’s not like he won’t be in the World Cup squad, so it’s possible he continues recuperating in Spain. His status is up in the air, but if he’s healthy, he’ll be with the group.Hector Herrera and Jonathan dos Santos seem assured. Aquino is a player who rarely gets much attention, but the way he combines with the fullbacks and his crossing put him in a category along with Mexico’s best players. He’s only 28, and absolutely could be playing abroad again should he desire.Marco Fabian is fit, and while he hasn’t been getting as much playing time as he’d like to with Eintracht Frankfurt it’s more than reasonable for the coaching staff to call Fabian up. Before being sidelined by a back issue for the majority of the season, Fabian had a solid Confederations Cup (remember this?). It will be worth having him back around the group and allowing the Mexico trainers to see where he’s at and make sure he’s good to go ahead of the summer.That brings us to the two surprise inclusions. Mexico assistant coach Luis Pompilio Paez told reporters last weekend that the coaching staff has spoken with Govea about being part of the friendly matches. He impressed in his brief appearance over the summer and would’ve been part of the January camp had his team released him. Clearly, there’s enough there to consider taking him to Russia. This is a good chance to see just what he can offer against opponents who will be taking part in the World Cup. Jonathan Gonzalez’s injury hasn’t come at a great time. He missed Monterrey’s loss to Santos Laguna on Sunday. Everything the Mexico staff has said indicates they want to see him in action again, so I’ve included him as my 23rd pick. If he can’t play, it’s not necessarily the end of his bid to make the 2018 tournament, but a good showing this month certainly would boost his chances.ForwardsJavier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Hirving Lozano, Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, Raul Jimenez, Giovani dos Santos, Oribe Peralta, Carlos VelaHow excited does Chicharito have to be to join up with the Mexico national team? Seriously, think about it. Things already weren’t going all that great for him at West Ham personally. Then, he starts to score a bit and see more minutes but gets sent back to the bench. The Hammers can’t put it together and the fans are running on the field, protesting the club. Then you go to the United States where thousands of fans are screaming your name and go into a locker room that generally seems to like hanging out with each other. It just seems like a huge shift.Anyway, he’ll be in this group. So will Hirving Lozano and Raul Jimenez. Oribe Peralta also should be included in this call-up, even though he stayed home in January. It’s a full window and Peralta’s spot in Russia isn’t exactly set in stone. Giovani dos Santos’ place didn’t seem set in stone, but Osorio loved how he approached the offseason. A hamstring injury forced him off at halftime of the LA Galaxy’s loss Sunday to NYCFC, but it looked to have happened pretty early in the half and he was okay to continue. If he’s fit, he’s in. Carlos Vela, on the other hand, was excellent in his MLS match Saturday, netting his first goal for LAFC, and should be included.(Editor’s note: Reports March 13 said Gio will be kept out of the squad because of the injury with a Liga MX-based player set to receive the call in his place.)Jesus Corona didn’t make the Panini sticker album, according to leaks, but maybe that was just because of his absence from the Confederations Cup because of personal issues. After starting with Porto in the UEFA Champions League, he should be good to go even if his form hasn’t been as impressive as it was at this time last season.