CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B: Costa Rica jostle Jamaica, El Salvador face Canada
CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B gets underway in Carson, California, with two tussles that could potentially shape the pool. Group titans, and everyone’s favourite World Cup underdogs, Costa Rica square-up to biggest threat Jamaica, while outsiders El Salvador scrap with Canada.
Costa Rica v Jamaica
Far and away pool favourites at 8/11 with Coral, and 13/2 to win the whole thing, Costa Rica must prove they can handle the pressure of being big-guns rather than plucky outsiders, with that role now claimed by the Reggae Boyz.
Understandably odds-on at 5/6 to push past Caribbean nation Jamaica, Paulo Wanchope’s Copa Centroamericana champions have slain the Reggae Boyz in 11 of their 24 encounters, drawing nine and losing just four.
The last time these two teams clashed in Kingston, Jamaica managed to split the spoils and, with four of their previous seven meetings ending on even terms, are a tempting 12/5 to squeeze a draw yet again.
Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz, now at Sporting Lisbon, is a regular scorer for his country and available to back at 15/8 in the anytime market, though all the attention will surely be on Arsenal-owned speedster Joel Campbell.
Several Spanish sides are said to be chasing the striker, who has the chance to put himself in the shop window with Los Ticos once more, and is a fantastic 13/2 to fire home first.
Campbell and co will be up against it though, as Jamaica have shown they are tough to open up, causing even Argentina problems in the 2015 Copa America. Having conceded just four goals in their last eight outings across all competitions, punters can place a stake on the Reggae Boyz at 13/5 to resist Costa Rica and keep a clean sheet.
The Jamaican’s do lack cutting edge in attack, which could prove their undoing even in Los Ticos and Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas’ absence. England-born Giles Barnes and Vancouver Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks are their biggest forward threats and can both be backed at 10/3 to strike anytime.
El Salvador v Canada
For Pool B minnows El Salvador and Canada (odds-on at 10/11 to triumph), an opening victory is vital should one of Costa Rica and Jamaica be defeated in the other duel, as a win would give one of the outsiders a realistic chance to qualify for the next round.
Quarter-finalists in 2013, La Selecta look the weakest team on show in Group B, having won just one of their past six outings. The Cannucks, meanwhile, have scored a superb 10 in their last four fixtures, and are 11/2 to smash three or more past El Salvador.
For the Canadians, Hapoel Haifa marksman Tosaint Ricketts has hit form, and is 11/2 to draw first blood, while Fredrikstad forward Rafael Burgos is El Salvador’s chief threat at 7/4 to be on target anytime.
Betting tip: Back Campbell @ 13/2 to score first for Costa Rica