Jimenez breaks his season duck to lead this week's Heroes & Villains
When this season comes to an end, there's enough evidence to suggest that Hirving "Chucky" Lozano, in his first full season in Europe, will be Mexico's best player in the Old World. Players like Carlos Salcedo, Hector Herrera and Andres Guardado will be close behind, but it will be Lozano who will take the prize because of the consistency he has shown so far this term.
Players like Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Hector Moreno have struggled in their battle to win minutes at West Ham and Roma, respectively, this season. In the coming weeks, the challenge for several of Mexico's European-based players will be to increase their playing time because it will simplify things for Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio, but their success remains to be seen.
Here's a look back at the Heroes and Villains:
It took many months for Raul Jimenez to score his first league goal of the season. Surprisingly, it came in the same week as news breaking that Club America made an inquiry on his situation at Benfica. America sporting president Santiago Banos admitted that Jimenez could have been a great option to reinforce the team's attack, but it seems that Benfica wants to keep the Mexican striker, even if he will continue to come off the bench as he has been doing throughout the season. Jimenez hasn't been able to claim a starting role with the Portuguese side, but at least he still manages to score golazos like the one he scored in Benfica's 3-1 victory over Braga.
Over in Germany, Carlos Salcedo has claimed a starting role with Eintracht Frankfurt -- he even appeared in the Busdeliga's Rest of the World XI this past week. For him, the hard work is paying off and his defensive versatility allow him to stand out. He's also a center-back who likes to distribute the ball to the rest of his teammates. In the recent 1-1 draw against Freiburg, Salcedo had 90 touches and an 85.9 percent passing accuracy. He has started in Frankfurt's last nine Bundesliga games.
The battle for who will win the Primeira Liga this season will go down to the wire, and Hector Herrera will be immersed in it. His displays will be key as Porto works on winning another league championship, which it hasn't done since 2013. In the middle of this challenge, Porto is still alive in the Champions League and will meet Liverpool, who on Sunday ended Manchester City's unbeaten streak with a 4-3 win. If Porto is able to win the league, and Herrera lifts the trophy as captain, it will be a sight to behold, but it will also be a magnificent way for Herrera to arrive at the World Cup.
After one of the most epic Derbi Sevillanos in recent times, Andres Guardado's Real Betis defeated Sevilla 5-3 at Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan last week. On Monday, Betis hosts Leganes, a club that just eliminated Villarreal in the Copa del Rey round of 16 and is tied on points with the Beticos. Guardado is coming off a muscular injury, but against Sevilla, he looked strong playing a No. 10 role for much of the game. His primary objective right now is adding to his six assists in league play.
When a player's name makes this category, it's because he's receiving playing time, but he's not making the most of it. What Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Miguel Layun are experiencing is a critical situation, which sets the table for the possibility of pushing for moves this month. Although Layun scored a goal in Porto's recent cup win over Moreirense, there's no certainty that his playing time will increase. Chicharito didn't see a single minute in West Ham's 4-1 win over Huddersfield Town.
With the World Cup nearing, Hernandez and Layun have to increase their playing time, but if the opportunities to move to other clubs don't present themselves or their clubs opt to keep them, they must take advantage of every single minute they get. Layun seems to be getting the hang of it, but he wants to play more, just like Chicharito, whose relationship with manager David Moyes doesn't appear to be all that positive.
Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.