CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals: Favourites Mexico meet Panama
Mexico will enter their CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final clash aiming to avoid another shock defeat to Panama, with their opponents having stunned them at this stage with a 2-1 victory during 2013’s tournament.
Arguably, the stakes are even higher this time around, but El Tri have showed great drive to reach this stage and are second favourites behind the USA to go all the way this year, but at times have also looked far from convincing.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera will want a new level to be reached in the semi-final meeting, with Panama proving so far they are no pushovers, and are 4/1 with Coral to stun their opposition for a second successive Gold Cup.
Although, Mexico possess the firepower capable of easily overcoming Panama’s defence, if they show up, and are 4/1 to win in 90 minutes with both teams getting on the scoresheet.
The latest semi-final match-up between these hopeful nations could be closer than expected, with both having recently come through 120 minutes to reach this stage, and a draw after 90 minutes is 11/4.
Panama will be quietly confident, though, with recent incidents causing Herrera to become unhappy during his side’s preparations.
The Mexico boss was left fuming at the hosts’ disorganisation, after his team had to share a flight to Atlanta with their semi-final counterparts, with an initial delay meaning the nine-time champions had to fly with their rivals.
“What surprises me is that Mexico is the one that gets them [CONCACAF money], which makes the stadiums full,” Herrera claimed.
“The whole process has treated us different from the other teams. We’ve paid a lot.”
Mexico head into the game after a narrow 1-0 quarter-final win over Costa Rica, after Andres Guardado tucked away a penalty which was awarded in the dying minutes of extra-time.
The confident spot-kick taker will hope to fire his nation into a final appearance now and is 4/1 to net anytime, while fellow attacking danger Carlos Vela is 5/1 to open proceedings this time out.
Panama are an impressive and freeflowing team when they get going, with their experienced frontline of Blas Perez and Luis Tejada holding the quality to expose a shaky Mexican rear guard.
FC Dallas frontman Perez is 11/4 to strike anytime in 90 minutes, while his partner in crime Tejada, who plies his trade for Peruvian Primera Division side Juan Aurich, is 9/1 to score last in normal time.
Hernan Dario Gomez’s men are yet to win in normal time, having drawn three group games and needing penalties to decide their last outing, so they face an uphill task of toppling Mexico, who they have overcome just twice in 13 meetings.