By DAN KARELL
With Mexico’s struggles in CONCACAF, and Honduras falling back to earth after their first two fixtures, Panama and Costa Rica will both have an eye on a place in the top three when the two meet in San Jose, Costa Rica tonight (10pm, beIN Sport).
The hosts put in a shift seven days ago at the Estadio Azteca, frustrating Mexico along the way to another scoreless draw that leaves them in second place with eight points, while Panama fell in their last match to the United States, 2-0, just their first loss in the Hex.
Last time these two met, Costa Rica stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the first half to draw Panama, 2-2 in the first Hexagonal round match in February. Alvaro Saborio and Bryan Ruiz scored for Los Ticos, and should be counted on again, as well as the young forward Joel Campbell, who impressed this past season in Spain and put in a good performance at the Azteca last week.
A win for Costa Rica coupled with a U.S. draw or loss to Honduras would put them top of the Hex after six of 10 rounds. A Panamanian victory would tie them with Mexico and Costa Rica on points with eight, and depending on goal differential, could vault Los Canaleros into a World Cup spot.
Here is a closer look at Tuesday’s match:
COSTA RICA vs. PANAMA
TV: 10pm, BeIN Sport USA/BeIN Sport Español
Players to Watch: COSTA RICA: Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges, Alvaro Saborio, Joel Campbell; PANAMA: Blas Perez, Felipe Baloy, Alberto Quintero, Luis Tejada.
The Matchup: Panama looked like they didn’t belong last Tuesday at the U.S., but they were missing their star forward Blas Perez with a stomach issue. Now that that’s behind him, Perez is expected to return to the starting lineup, forcing the Costa Rica defense to focus on him and Tejada up front. Los Ticos meanwhile will likely return Borges to the starting lineup in the heart of midfield, and they’ll try at home to control the match and impose themselves on the Panamanians, and put more separation between themselves and the rest of the group.
What do you make of this match? Who do you see winning the game? Do you believe Panama can win on the road?
Share your thoughts below.
Costa Rica won.
CRC 2:0 PAN
Best way to ensure US Qualification: push the low teams lower. Go Ticos. Pura vida.
I like how you think…..US should just try to win big today….and look for the upset win in Costa Rica in September but hope to have to “settle for a tie” and then BAM a nice win vs El Tri to make their qualifying a living hell….
US qualified for South Africa away to Honduras…maybe they can do the same vs Costa Rica? Okay maybe they won’t be able to since there will be 9 points left to play…but they will pretty damn close…..
Wouldn’t a win by Panama put them at 9 points, 1 ahead of CR and Mexico?
Yeah, they have 6 now. If the US and Panama win, then CRC, MEX, PAN and HON will all be between 7 and 9 points, with the US at 13. Would be quite a battle for spots 2 & 3, and the US would almost certainly qualify at that point.
Which stadium will this game be played in?
thats a good question; do they ignore their brand new stadium and play panama in the old derelict, or does CR reserve that treatment for only their most special guests like the US?
They can’t play at Saprissa. FIFA deemed the stadium unsuitable for international play.
Really? When did this happen? And why is it deemed unsuitable…? Not because I disagree but good grief some of the places we’ve played in like Antigua & Barbuda make Saprissa seem like an EPL or Bundesliga stadium? I also ask because I hope they didn’t get that rating due to something that can be easily repaired to slightly improve the stadium and then Costa Rica having the ability to play the US there in the 1st game of the September Qualifiers.
If the Ticos aren’t going to have Rodney Wallace suit up (again), can they please let him come back early? We’d really appreciate having him play against LA tomorrow.
I’m sure SKC would have enjoyed Zusi and LA would have enjoyed having Keane around too…
Note, the request for his return is “if he isn’t going to play”. The others are playing.
Let’s go Panama. Can’t stand CR after what happened in Denver.
What happene in Denver… taking a topical team and playing them in the snow and barely USA winning… that is why you cant stand them??? Yeah I see your point???
I was referring to the constant whining, during and after the game.
The Costa Rican federation basically blamed the US for what transpired, as if we have control over the weather, and then threw their toys out of the pram and declared they’ll play us at Saprissa.
Denver was a soccer game or Winter Olympics?
If they want to play at Saprissa they have every right to do so