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The CONCACAF Gold Cup is already reaching the end of the group stages, with the quarter-finals beckoning on the weekend. USA and Trinidad and Tobago had already booked their places in the next round with a pair of wins each from their first two games; while Mexico and Jamaica are now sure of joining them, having gained four points each from with a win and a draw. The rest of the quarter-final slots are all up for grabs, and even Cuba, with two defeats and a -8 goal difference, could still qualify with a final day win.
The Story so Far
Group A has been completed at the time of writing with USA topping the section with 7 points, after a final day draw with Panama. Haiti shocked Honduras with a 1-0 win to take second spot, while Panama finished third with three points after drawing all three matches. USA and Haiti take their places in the quarter-finals, but Panama face an anxious wait to see if they will finish as one of the best two third-placed finishers.
Group B remains open with all four teams in with a shout of qualifying, and only Jamaica assured of a place in the knockout stages. They sit at the top of the group with four points after a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica and a 1-0 victory over Canada. That draw earned us some winnings from last week’s tips, but an under-performing Canada cost us by failing to overcome El Salvador in a 0-0 bore draw. The Canadians are bottom with a single point, while Costa Rica and El Salvador are locked on two points each after sharing a 1-1 draw. A draw for Jamaica against El Salvador would be enough to see them through, and it looks to be a straight shootout between Costa Rica and Canada for the other qualification spot.
Group C is the one that has more interest from a betting perspective, and we’re backing our tip for the title – Mexico – to come out on top in their clash with Trinidad and Tobago. We also have a tip for the other match, where Guatemala look worth following to get the points they need against group whipping boys Cuba.
Cuba v Guatemala 23:00, Wed 15th July
Cuba were dealt a tough blow in their first match against Mexico, naming just 16 players as part of their squad was delayed by VISA problems. Whether they would have made any difference to the result is questionable, but they might not have gone down as heavily as 6-0. It suited us here as we’d backed Mexico on the -3 handicap, and the bet never really looked in doubt by the time they’d opened up a 4-0 half-time lead.
The Cubans fared a bit better in their next game, having more of the ball, but still going down 2-0 to Trinidad and Tobago. This game represents their best chance of points, but even a victory would see them relying on results in the other groups to scrape through as a third-best finisher.
Cuba – +1000 with Betvictor
Guatemala – -240 with Bwin
Draw – +380 with Betvictor
Guatemala were caught cold by Trinidad and Tobago in their opener, quickly falling 3-0 behind by half-time and never able to recover. They pulled one back around the hour mark and had their chances, but the game had gone by then. It was an improved display in the next game when they frustrated Mexico and held them to a 0-0 draw, despite being reduced to ten men.
That point could prove to be invaluable, as the results in other groups mean that a win for Guatemala will definitely see them qualify for the quarter-finals. That should be motivation enough, and there is no reason why Guatemala can’t repeat their 1-0 friendly victory over Cuba from August 2014.
Mexico v Trinidad and Tobago 01:30, Thu 16th July
The other game is a straight fight for top spot, with both sides certain to reach the quarter-finals. Mexico blew an under-strength Cuba away in their first match, but drew a blank against a dogged Guatemala. They can re-find their scoring touch here against a Trinidad and Tobago side who have exceeded expectations.
Mexico – -275 with Coral
Trinidad and Tobago – +1050 with Bwin
Trinidad raced into a 3-0 lead against Guatemala in the first game, which took them to a 3-1 win, then followed it up with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Cuba. Six points has guaranteed them a place in the quarters, and that’s a excellent achievement. However, Mexico are a very strong side in this context, and it’s questionable just how good those early results were. Two goals in three first-half minutes effectively ended the contest against Guatemala, but it was a generally even game in terms of chances and possession. Cuba were rank outsiders for the tournament and are expected to lose all three games, so little can be read into that result. Mexico dominated Guatemala in the 0-0 draw, and one would expect to see them dominate the ball here too. Trinidad and Tobago are already through, so their motivation might not be 100% for this game. Admittedly Mexico are also already through, but for a nation of their standing, finishing top of the group would have been a prime target.
Mexico -1 – -105 with Betvictor
Mexico have recorded 3-0, 3-1, and 7-0 wins over Trinidad in three of their last five meetings, and there looks to be a little value in backing them to overcome the handicap once again. The Mexicans will probably be on top for most of the match, while Trinidad attempt to hold them out and break when they can. The longer they hold on the more chance of the game petering out into a 0-0 draw, but if Mexico can find the net early, the game could well open up. It would be no surprise to see El Tri complete a 2-0 or 3-0 win, and a price just shy of even odds looks worth taking.
Gold Cup Group Matches:
Guatemala – -240 with Bwin
Mexico -1 – -105 with Betvictor
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