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 By Derek Bilton

Mexico set to kick off Gold Cup campaign with win over El Salvador

The CONCACAF Gold Cup action continues this week where on Monday holders Mexico take on El Salvador.

Due to Mexico's first XI only recently returning from Confederations Cup duty in Russia this squad is comprised entirely of home-based players, but they are still favourites to see off a Salvadoran side who have yet to get past the quarterfinal stage at this event in nine previous attempts. In contrast, no team has enjoyed more Gold Cup success than Mexico, who have been victorious on seven occasions since 1991.

However previous good form does not always guarantee three points in these type of games, as the United States (five-time winners) proved on Saturday after being held to a 1-1 draw with unfancied Panama. Nobody truly knows how strong this Mexico side is, with the likes of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Carlos Vela and Hector Moreno all missing. However the squad that has crossed the border should be up for this with Russia 2018 World Cup places still up for grabs.

El Tri have also been hit with the bombshell that coach Juan Carlos Osorio has been handed a six-game ban by FIFA for improper conduct towards match officials during their Confederations Cup third place playoff against Portugal. That rules him out of the Gold Cup and it will be interesting to see how his side react. With this in mind, it could be worth tickling the draw at 19/4 with bet365 in this one.

In terms of a first goal scorer Erick "Cubo" Torres, who is chalked up as a 15/4 chance with bet365, looks a decent shout. Torres is currently joint-second top scorer in the MLS with the Houston Dynamos and has looked very sharp this season. A fox in the box, Torres will see this tournament as an ideal stage to stake a claim for inclusion in Mexico's World Cup squad.

On Wednesday Honduras look likely to blast past French Guiana in Group A. The latter lost 4-2 to Canada in their opening game and while they looked lively going forward, defensively this is a team that is going to struggle to keep clean sheets. They are the competition's only debutants and truly look up against it this week. Honduras opened with a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, but played well and actually shaded the possession and shots on goal stats against the Ticos.

The Catrachos gave Costa Rica pretty much all they could handle at the Red Bull Arena and dominated for long spells. However they could not turn possession into goals and paid the price with Marco Urena popping up to score what proved a decisive goal. Goals have been a bit of a problem for Honduras and it's actually eight matches now since they scored more than one goal in this competition. However they could cash in on French Guiana's defensive negligence here and a 3-1 result, available at 10/1 with bet365, is not beyond the realms of possibility.


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