Mexico favourites for Gold Cup win, U.S. to draw with Panama
The CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off this weekend and it's no surprise to see Mexico at the head of the betting.
El Tri have won the event seven times and are defending champions. Rather unsurprisingly then bet365 chalk them up as warm 13/10 favourites to retain their crown.
Indeed since replacing the CONCACAF Championships in 1991 the event has been dominated by Mexico and the United States, who themselves have claimed five titles. Only Canada in 2000 have managed to strike a blow against the 'big two' but this year's event could be a much more open affair. That's largely down to the fact that neither Mexico or USA will be at full strength.
The main Mexican side have only just returned from the Confederations Cup in Russia so boss Juan Carlos Osorio will be taking a much changed squad across the border (the 2017 Gold Cup is hosted by the United States). Some of this El Tri squad are actually uncapped in what is essentially a Mexico B team.
Hosts USA will also be missing key men with Bruce Arena unable to call on the likes of Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore and DeAndre Yedlin. Despite this, expectations will still be high given they are five-time winners and playing at home, but a lot will depend on how this experimental USA team jells.
One team who could be worth keeping an eye on here are Costa Rica, who are second in the CONCACAF qualifying table for the 2018 World Cup and who reached the quarterfinals of the last World Cup in Brazil, beating Italy and Uruguay along the way.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas has not travelled but other than that this is a genuinely strong Costa Rican squad with the likes of Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz and Cristian Gamboa all set to feature.
With this in mind they look a decent bet at 23/20 with bet365 to see off Honduras. Los Catrachos failed to win a game at the last Gold Cup in 2015 and have won just one of their last eight matches. They look a team in disarray and no match at present for what looks an excellent Costa Rica side.
Elsewhere on Saturday it could pay to back the draw at 5/2 with bet365 when USA face Panama. The teams drew 1-1 back in March in World Cup qualifying and on paper that United States side was much stronger than the team that will line up this time around. Panama are defensively very solid having conceded only seven goals in their last 12 games.
USA will be buoyed by a partisan home crowd but if they don't score early then the pressure will build on this largely experimental team. Panama will certainly make life difficult and have some very physical players in their side who can nullify the United States going forward. With this in mind the draw looks the way to go.