5 Liguilla Players to Watch with Mexico at World Cup in Brazil

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2014

5 Liguilla Players to Watch with Mexico at World Cup in Brazil

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    Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press

    The Liguilla quarterfinals are underway. After the first leg, some players stood out for their abilities and compromise on the pitch; it's no wonder why they will make Mexico's 2014 World Cup team.

    The performance of these footballers has been quite good throughout the season. They have also been key players for El Tri, especially since Miguel Herrera took over the team in 2013.

    With great goals, fantastic saves and killer plays, these five will definitively shine in the second leg of the quarterfinals.

Raul Jimenez

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    Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press

    Raul Jimenez was by far the best player of the first-leg matches. He scored a hat-trick for Club America in what was one of the more exciting comebacks of the season.

    "Las Aguilas" and "Los Guerreros" were tied to one goal when the second half started. Three minutes into the game, Darwin Quintero bet Moises Munoz's goal; five minutes later Ribair Rodriguez's header found the back of the net.

    But Antonio Mohamed's side was not ready to quit, and Jimenez led the way with enthusiasm and power.

    He put the ball away by smashing it twice with the head, giving his team a momentarily draw, and just four minutes before the final whistle, he scored again with the back of the heel. Ultimately, America won 5-3.

    Jimenez is going through his best moment yet. He runs, fights every ball and converts the opportunities he has. His superb aerial game will be a determining factor in Brazil.

Jesus Corona

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    Christian Palma/Associated Press

    Cruz Azul could have lost by a big difference if Jesus Corona had not been on the goal. After missing the CONCACAF Champions League final, the goalkeeper seems to be eager to play.

    Leon was a tough opponent that left uncovered "La Maquina's" defensive weaknesses. However, Corona was focused on his job and proved why he will be in Mexico's World Cup team.

    His aerial game has improved considerably, and his abilities to cut the angle and dive, mixed with his quick reflexes, set him as a standard bearer of the Mexico City club.

    One of the most crucial saves came at the end of the game, when Mauro Boselli shot from close range and the keeper rejected it.

    He is still fighting to make an impression on Miguel Herrera, one that would assure him the starting position.

Carlos Pena

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    Felipe Dana/Associated Press

    Carlos Pena is a game-changer every time he steps on the pitch. He is very unbalancing when he runs through the center to join the attack.

    The Leon midfielder proved once again why he is the mastermind behind the team. There is no doubt that he is one of the most complete players; he can defend, attack and organize the squad at ease.

    Pena plays behind the striker with Leon, but with Mexico he can do it on either flank, helping the forwards with the crafting of plays or taking the heat off with long-distance shots and passes.

Isaac Brizuela

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    Christian Palma/Associated Press

    "El Conejito" keeps pushing and making an extra effort, which sets him apart as a dangerous player whenever he steps into the box.

    Isaac Brizuela had several goal opportunities against Tijuana but failed to score. However, his speed and elusiveness can be a factor when the rivals park the bus.

    He has a fantastic surprise factor under the sleeve, mainly because he is a flexible footballer who can take over the left flank or play behind the striker, becoming a thriving force when he comes from behind.

    Both his aerial game and shooting skills are sharp. He will be a very valuable asset for Mexico because the team needs more players with the abilities Brizuela possesses.

Luis Montes

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    Felipe Dana/Associated Press

    What would Leon be without Luis Montes on the left side? The 27-year-old attacking midfielder has become one of the most prolific Mexican footballers.

    Montes is lethal when he runs all the way to the goal line and sends crosses to the heart of the box. He also has a fantastic long-distance shot that can put in distress any goalkeeper.

    Miguel Herrera knows what he's capable of, hence he has capped Montes for every game since he has been in charge of El Tri.

    Montes' speed, ball possession and distribution are his most valuable assets, which have become key for his club and, lately, for Mexico.

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