Which Mexico is going to show up tonight for the Gold Cup quarterfinals? Will it be the Mexico that beat up on Cuba and Canada by a combined 10-1 in the first two games, or will it be the one that scuffled against lowly Martinique in a 3-2 squeaker?
The answers come tonight against Costa Rica in Houston (9:30 p.m. EST, FS1 and Univision). Los Ticos finished second in their Group after losing 2-1 in the finale to Haiti.
The El Tri offense has been fueled by Uriel Antuna and Raul Jimenez during this tournament. Antuna, who was picked up for the 23-man roster just before the first game, has tallied four goals. Meanwhile, Jimenez has chipped in three of his own.
Mexico has built off the momentum of its surprise knockout stage appearance at last summer’s World Cup, winning seven straight. Costa Rica, on the other hand, has started to dip in performance ever since the breakthrough to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2014.
Between the World Cup and the Gold Cup, Los Ticos went 3-7. That followed up an 0-2-1 outing in Russia.
Let’s take a quick preview before projecting lineups for tonight’s group stage action.
Mexico vs. Costa Rica Gold Cup Preview & Predictions
El Tri enters the night ranked No. 18 overall in the FIFA World Rankings, while the Costa Ricans sit at No. 39. However, Los Ticos are going to take a big dip after dropping the decision to No. 101 Haiti.
Joel Campbell is Costa Rica’s main player to watch. He is a fixture in European soccer, but he currently plays forward for Leon in Mexico. In his national team career, he has racked up 16 goals for the senior team (as well as 18 goals total for the junior teams).
Elias Aguilar has recorded goals in both Gold Cup contests, so far.
According to CBS Sports, Mexico coach Tata Martino has the most talented team in the Gold Cup, but also one that is prone to sloppy performances.
Mexico had looked sharp defensively, but some flaws were evident against Martinique. Martino surely has to be more than upset with some of the sloppy play from that game, but it’s nothing that can’t be corrected. Expect a sharper Mexico here that gets rid of the ball quick at the back and plays to feet.
Costa Rica has to be reeling in confidence after the Haiti loss, so Mexico has to take advantage early and often. If Mexico gets out to a 1-goal lead early, expect an avalanche over Los Ticos squad with a wobbly pysche.
Either Antuna or Jimenez will score at least two goals, and Mexico’s defense regains its focus after a low stakes snoozer versus Martinique.
Pick: Mexico 4, Costa Rica 1
Projected Starting XI for Mexico vs. Costa Rica
Just released lineups for tonight for both squads.
Mexico Roster for Gold Cup