Mexico's Olympic squad offers reason for optimism to repeat 2012 glory

Mexico Olympic coach Raul "Potro" Gutierrez named his squad Thursday to defend the 2012 gold medal next month in Rio, after an extensive selection process.

Here are five takes for a Mexico side set to open the tournament with a tough game against Germany on Aug. 4.

1. Three overage players fix deficiencies

Liga MX trio Oribe Peralta, Jorge Torres Nilo and Alfredo Talavera don't get the blood pumping and excitement flowing as overage selections to complement the 15 under-23 players. They are not Europe-based stars like Javier Hernandez, Andres Guardado, Raul Jimenez or Guillermo Ochoa, but they are smart choices.

Peralta's goal-to-game ratio at club and international level is consistently good, he is a leader and has the experience of winning the gold medal last time out at the Olympics in London. Aside from that, the other options up front -- Erick "Cubo" Torres and Marco Bueno -- haven't done enough to earn the trust of Gutierrez as the starting strikers.

Torres Nilo's selection was really a no-brainer considering the headaches Gutierrez has had filling the left-back spot, while bringing an experienced goalkeeper like Toluca's Talavera should spread confidence throughout the defense.

2. Pineda, Lopez surprise omissions

There has been talk that Orbelin Pineda's omission may have had something to do with his club side Chivas, but Gutierrez has never seemed to truly warm to the 20-year-old box-to-box midfielder who has already played in 63 Liga MX matches. Pachuca duo Erick Gutierrez and Rodolfo Pizarro provide strong options in the center of the field, but it appears Pineda missed out to another Pachuca player, Victor Guzman.

There could've been a sixth Pachuca player if Raul Lopez had been called up. "Dedos" didn't have a great Clausura 2016 with Chivas, but he is probably the best crosser of the ball in the Mexican game and would've given an attacking option at full-back or on the right wing.

The other glaring omission is Jesus "Tecatito" Corona, who has been considered part of this U-23 process, but featured in the Copa America Centenario and is now an important player for Porto, who refused to release him for the Olympics.

3. Lozano one of a few to watch

As always when it comes to the Olympic age group, the main focus is on actually winning a medal, but the secondary interest is about finding out which players are ready to make the jump from youth international soccer to the full national team.

Pachuca's Hirving Lozano has already made it, and the likes of Torres, Carlos Salcedo and Pizarro have had brief tastes of what top international football involves, but they can accelerate the process with the spotlight on them at Rio.

Lozano will be the main focus for Mexico and El Tri fans, especially with the recent Manchester United links. But center-backs Cesar Montes and Salcedo are also highly talented and Pizarro and Gutierrez will have European scouts watching their every move.

4. U-17 world champions from 2011

The "golden generation" that tasted U-17 World Cup glory in 2011 hasn't developed as expected. This should be their Olympics. Of that U-17 team, only Marco Bueno and Arturo Gonzalez have made the squad and even they will have been biting their fingernails nervously before the announcement. They weren't definite picks.

Through a combination of lack of minutes in league play and/or loss of form, the likes of Antonio Briseno, Carlos Fierro, Julio Gomez, Jorge Espericueta and Carlos Guzman all miss out on the Olympic dream.

5. A squad that can challenge?

Mexico's Olympic squad is honest and capable of making a run at the medal podium. There is generally a sense that the aforementioned individuals combined with the overage players have the talent to defend the gold with dignity.

Yet in watching some of the preparation games, there is also a doubt about just how the team will play in terms of formation and style. Will it be a 4-4-2, a 4-2-3-1, 1 4-4-4 (diamond) or a 4-3-3? Each one is a possibility less than a month out from the Rio Games. Ideally, those issues would've been cleared up by now, although it is entirely possible Gutierrez was waiting for the overage reinforcements to define his formation.