The 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup starts this weekend in the United States. Mexico will be aiming to retain the title they won two years ago, when they defeated Jamaica in the final. Both Honduras and Costa Rica will believe they have what it takes to reach the latter stages of the tournament but must qualify through Group A, which also contains Canada and French Guiana. The top two teams from each of the three groups plus the two best third place teams go through to the quarter-final.
Therefore, both teams have some margin for error in the group and can still qualify but this opening match between the group favourites could decide who finishes top.
Having won the UNCAF Nations Cup for the fourth time, finishing above Panama by 3 points, things have not been going as planned for Honduras.
Since the final match of the that tournament, a 1-0 win over Belize, Honduras have struggled and won just 1 of their 8 matches in all competitions. Their only victory came in a friendly match against Nicaragua and there have been defeats to Jamaica, Ecuador, United States and Mexico.
During the last 8 games, Honduras have struggled defensively and conceded 6 goals in one match against the United States. They have conceded 18 goals in their last 8 games at a rate of 2.25 goals per game.
Costa Rica Form
Costa Rica are in a good position to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and will be entering this tournament with the belief they can go all the way and lift the trophy.
Costa Rica have lost only 2 of their last 15 games in all competitions and have become a difficult side for opposition teams to play against. However, wins have been hard to come by of late and Costa Rica have won only 1 of their last 7 games.
There have been defeats to Panama and Mexico and scoring goals has become a problem, with Costa Rica netting 4 goals in their last 7 games at an average of 0.57 per game.
Honduras will be missing two key players, not only for this match but the whole tournament as midfielder Mario Martinez and defender Johnny Palacios are not in the squad. Their brightest young talent, Rigoberto Rivas also missed out having decided to stay with his club.
Costa Rica are without their first-choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas. However, they can call upon Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Bryan Oviedo and Cristian Gamboa, making them one of the strongest looking teams in the tournament.
Top Betting Tips
Costa Rica look the best team on paper and with Honduras struggling following the UNCAF Nations Cup, come into this match as favourites priced at 23/20 with Ladbrokes.
With Honduras struggling defensively, Costa Rica will hope to take advantage but have not been great in-front of goal recently. Therefore, even if Costa Rica are to win this match it may be a low scoreline and you can get Costa Rica to win and under 2.5 goals at 27/10 with Ladbrokes.
With Christian Bolanos not in the Costa Rica squad for this tournament, the pressure will be on Bryan Ruiz to deliver the goods. Ruiz is available at 13/5 with William Hill to score at any time.