Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gold Cup Day 8 - Group C comes to a close - Preview

What a tangled mess Group C has turned out to be. Even though it is the hardest of the three groups few that it would be in this position going into the final match. Who would have ever thought that Mexico could go home early if events turn out a certain way? And Panama sitting on top of things making it seem like 2005 wasn't a one shot deal. It is crazy time. Yet the biggest question is will it stay crazy or will order return to the soccer world? Just two matches to find out the answer.

Group C
So how can Group C play out? Here are possible scenarios:

- The big one, Cuba beats Honduras and Panama beats Mexico, giving Panama first, Cuba second and Honduras third due to their head-to-head with Mexico.

- Anything other then a Cuba victory will result in Panama, Honduras and Mexico advancing, unless Panama beat Mexico by five goals. If that happens, El Salvador (from Group B) will get the last third place spot in the quarterfinals.

- If both games end in ties, Mexico will claim the second third place spot and have to play the USA on Saturday.

- Panama can take first place if they beat Mexico or tie Mexico and Honduras does no better then a tie against Cuba.

- Honduras can take first place if they beat Cuba and Mexico beats or ties Panama.

- Mexico can take first place if they beat Panama and Honduras does no better then a tie against Cuba.

- Cuba cannot take first place in the group, however if they win and Panama lose, Cuba could take second provided the difference between Cuba's margin of victory and Panama's margin of defeat is greater then 2 or, if it is 2, that Cuba scores three more goals then Panama does. Otherwise, Cuba would take third place.

I think that sums everything up, but let me know if I missed an option. Here are the previews:

Cuba (1pt) vs. Honduras (3pts)
8pm ET/5pm PT - TV: TeleFutura (Spanish)
Live blogging here.
Honduras is by far the better side in this one but as Los Catrachos proved against Mexico on Sunday, underdogs have a way of making things happen. Cuba has been surprisingly strong on offense, thanks in large part to the work of Reynier Alcántara. Their technical skills are still way off the mark, but with a number of players always getting back, they can be difficult to beat. Honduras will look for Carlo Costly to continue his excellent run of form, but if they want to be a major threat in the knockout stage, they will need someone else to help out. Also, their defense needs to tighten up because they give away far too many cheap goals. One last thing, Honduras actually has a losing lifetime record against Cuba at 4-5-2.
Predictions: Me Cuba 1-2 Honduras, Wife Cuba 0-2 Honduras

Mexico (3pts) vs. Panama (4pts)
10pm ET/7pm PT - TV: Univision (Spanish)
Live blogging here.
Mexico is shaky at the moment so Panama's best chance is to come out attacking. If they try to bunker down, El Tri will eat them alive. Even without Blanco (out due to a red card), Mexico has options on the attack. Expect coach Hugo Sánchez to send these options out in full force but that will leave their underperforming defense open. Panama will need to position their passes just right to clear through the midfield and if they get in one-on-one situations deep in Mexico's side, they will get a goal, however one alone will not be enough for a win. If Mexico is not winning by the 50th minute, this game will become a dogfight, especially if Honduras wins in the first match.
Predictions: Me Mexico 3-1 Panama, Wife Mexico 2-1 Panama

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