On the surface, both Costa Rica and Panama had wildly successful group stages in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Both finished with seven points, and it's almost a little unfair that the two are going to be pitted against each other in the quarterfinals of this event. Los Ticos are the favorites to advance, but this is about the worst case scenario they could have asked for in an event they were hoping to have a serious chance of winning.
At 6 p.m. ET, tune into FOX Sports 1 for live television coverage of this Gold Cup match on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at Lincoln Financial Field.
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The Costa Ricans would have hoped for an easier draw than this in the quarters for sure. They'll still be favored to advance into the semifinals for a seemingly predetermined match against the United States, but this is far from a lock. We're talking about a team that hasn't reached the semifinals of the Gold Cup since 2009 and didn't get out of the group stage of Copa America Centenario last year here on American soil.
Panama is going to be in it with a chance for sure. The team finished third in the Gold Cup in 2015 and is right on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in its history.
Expect to see a low total in this matchup. Los Ticos have allowed just one goal in this tournament thus far, while Panama has conceded two, one of which came against the United States.
How They Got Here
Costa Rica hasn't put its best foot forward over the course of this tournament, but its results are good enough. The good news is that the team has put one in the back of the net in all three matches in the group stage. We've had some problems backing Los Ticos in the past because of their lack of offense. It's amazing that this club has scored five times and hasn't ultimately gotten anything out of Bryan Ruiz.
Still, Los Ticos haven't had a matchup quite like this one yet. They drew against Canada in a 1-1 match, while their wins came against Honduras and French Guiana. The Honduras match might ultimately read as a 1-0 victory, but anyone who watched that match knows that Costa Rica was the lesser of the two teams. That's why this is a bit of a scary fixture.
The fact that Panama picked up seven points in Group B was amazing. A 1-1 draw against the United States was a remarkable result. Sure, beating Nicaragua and Martinique was no big deal, but just holding serve was a big deal.
A team that generally struggles offensively has scored six goals in three fixtures, including scoring against the Americans. Gabriel Torres has had the biggest impact on this Panamanian team with his two goals, but the other four goals were scored by four different players. It's a remarkable balance for a club that has had anything but on the offensive side of the pitch for the last several years, but it'll have to continue against Costa Rica.
Free Soccer Betting Pick
This will end up being a tight match where goals are at a premium. The under is going to be the safest play, even against a total that will perhaps be as low as a flat 2.
Given the opportunity to take a half goal or so on the Asian Handicap, we're going to pounce at the idea. This Panama team will be in this with a shout, and if Ruiz isn't able to help out Los Ticos offensively, we think we'll see an upset in the quarterfinals.
Gold Cup Odds: Panama 1, Costa Rica 1 (Panama Advances on PKs)
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