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Gold Cup Soccer: Sunday's Analysis and Predictions

Gold Cup Soccer: Sunday's Analysis and Predictions

Gold Cup Soccer: Sunday's Analysis and Predictions
By Shawn Young

Glendale, Arizona hosts the last round of matches in Group C. Panama take on Nicaragua in the first game. Panama can grab a wildcard spot with a win while Nicaragua is nearly eliminated. Guadeloupe plays Mexico in the late game with both teams already in next weekend’s quarterfinals. Guadeloupe needs a win or draw to win the group; Mexico leapfrogs them with a win.

Temperatures will top 105 degrees, but it’s a dry heat, so whiners will be shown yellow cards.

PANAMA (-1.5, flat) vs. NICARAGUA

Panama is without suspended players Gun and Phillips. They earned a gritty 1-1 draw against Mexico Thursday in a game that had so much bad blood even Dracula couldn’t bear to watch. Fully 11 minutes of time was added to the second half. Perez, the goal scorer against Mexico, is also a doubt for Panama. He was stretchered off in the last minute.

Nicaragua fell 2-0 to Guadeloupe, more or less as expected. Nicaragua played them even, aside from three minutes early in the second half when the goals flew in.

Ordinarily, the play is to bet the motivated team against the eliminated team, but this line should move too far late Sunday afternoon. At Panama -1.5 it’s no bet, but when things shift to -2, this column will be betting Nicaragua small around -125.

This is Nicaragua’s first time at the tournament and they have not let their heads drop even after falling behind to superior opposition. Panama are missing at least one of their better players, probably two, as well as their best guy off the bench - they might not be superior opposition any more. Bet only at Nicaragua +2.

Prediction: Panama 1, Nicaragua 0

MEXICO (-1, flat) vs. GUADELOUPE

Mexico loses Noriega and the manager through suspension for this match. Guadeloupe has Tacalfred suspended after a studs-up second yellow against Nicaragua.

This column has been all over Guadeloupe every step of the way and cannot stop now. We are absolutely bewildered that Mexico is such a heavy favorite here. Both these teams beat Nicaragua 2-0. Guadeloupe beat Panama 2-1; Mexico could only get a draw against Panama despite playing 10-on-9 for the last 15 minutes.

This column does not need to be reminded that Mexico are the regional powerhouse and have a certain amount of name recognition. Still, Mexico has only won this tournament once since 1998. On larger stages like the World Cup and Copa America, Mexico crashes and burns regularly. The current World Cup qualifying campaign risks falling flat. This group brought to the Gold Cup has shown very little quality so far.

Can Mexico win this game? Of course they can. Should they be favored by a full goal or more on a neutral ground? Not in a million years. Bet the Gwada Boys of Guadeloupe.

Prediction: Mexico 1, Guadeloupe 1

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