Mexico v USA: Gold Cup final can live up to hype

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THE CONCACAF Gold Cup final takes place conclude on Sunday night and James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his thoughts as Mexico take on USA.

Mexico v USA | Monday 8th July 2019, 02:00 | Premier Sports

As anticipated before a ball had been kicked in this tournament, Mexico and USA have negotiated their way to the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup final. These are the two highest-ranked nations at the competition, as well as the two most successful countries in the history of this event.

This contest will take place at Soldier Field, the home of NFL outfit the Chicago Bears; so USA do have home advantage. Mexico however approach this as favourites to lift the trophy.

Perhaps something of a worry for Mexico is that they’ve found the knockout rounds somewhat difficult to negotiate. La Tri required penalty kicks to knock out Costa Rica, whilst Haiti held them to extra time before prevailing. One thing is for certain, they’ll need a top performance to get the better of the USMNT, who possess a 100% record at this Gold Cup inside 90-minutes.

The USA had something of a disrupted semi-final clash with Jamaica after it was halted for almost 90 minutes due to lightning in the Nashville area. It was a deserving win, and a much-needed confidence boost after a less than inspiring display to defeat Curacao in the previous round and back-to-back 1-0 wins. As mentioned, USA has won every game inside 90-minutes, whilst Mexico needed extra time in the last two, and that could be a key factor to consider prior to this meeting.

USA have enjoyed recent Mexican meetings

Mexico might be the favourites to win this game, and they’re entitled to be considering their ranked higher, but their recent head-to-head record in this battle affords plenty of optimism for Gregg Barhalter’s side.

Over the last 10, Mexico has won only one of those inside 90-minutes, although they did win on another occasion inside extra time in 2015. Those 10 meetings span across eight years however, but the two did play one another last year in a friendly, in which USA won 1-0, in a game where both fielded rather experimental XIs. It’s perhaps not best to much too much emphasis on the H2H, but this is a grudge match where there is no love lost between the two on the pitch.

Conceding to Jamaica in the semi-final was the first goal that the USA have conceded at this competition. That is not to say they have been so secure defensively, as they have come under pressure at times from lesser nations. Mexico will provide them with their sternest assignments.

Mexico have two clean sheets out of a possible five this summer, with both coming versus Cuba and Haiti. Tata Martino has rotated his side across this competition, but he’ll certainly field his best team for this showpiece event. We should prepare to see Mexico at their best, but USA will have a plan for them.

Contest could live up to the hype

There has been a feeling that this will be the final from the outset, so let’s hope that the game itself doesn’t fail to live up to the expectation. It could be that this turns out to be tight and cagey, as Mexico’s last two games have done, or one team will take this by the scruff of the neck; as USA did over Jamaica.

Four of the last six finals of this event has witnessed both teams scoring, and the last time these two contested a Gold Cup final was in 2011, when Mexico won 4-2. Martino and Berhalter are two offensive-minded coaches, and they’ll set up their teams looking to win.

Both Teams To Score has to be worthy of a play, especially at even money (Betfair). Four of the last six H2H has seen this pay out, whilst both teams have displayed more than enough going forward in this competition to expect at least a goal. Also, they’ve been tested defensively, so there is a degree of vulnerability about them, as well. Mexico only have two clean sheets in their last 18 overall, although both did come earlier on in this current Gold Cup.

Slow-starting Mexico?

Something which has stuck with me from the last few games is that Mexico have been slow-starters. They may need a period whereby they settled into this final, especially following two hard shifts where games went at least to extra time. They’re the favourites in this one, but USA are the hosts, so it remains to be seen who should really dictate this final.

However, USA started very, very brightly over Jamaica, and whilst they’re weaker than Mexico, it was still a commanding display that is worthy of note. USA has only failed to score in the first half versus Panama, a traditionally defensive and stubborn opponent. This was a must not lose game for the USA as opposed to must-win, so we can forgive them for not starting at breakneck speed.

The second and final selection is USA Over 0.5 First Half Goals at 13/8 (Betway). They’re the underdogs here so this represents a decent degree of value in a game where they will more than hold their own. An exciting final awaits, and I couldn’t call it

Best Bets

Mexico v USA – Both Teams To Score (1/1 Betfair)

Mexico v USA – USA Over 0.5 First Half Goals (13/8 Betway)

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