For a competition that is regarded as not competitive by many, the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021 has been intense. The tournament has produced plenty of excitement and drama.
Qatar is pushing their luck as far as possible. Even as a guest, for the first time, they have surprised everyone including themselves by qualifying for the semifinals. After a convincing group-stage campaign, they managed a 3-2 win against El Salvador in the quarterfinal.
The USA even with an experimental team has shown dominance, winning all games in the group stage. They had to dig out a win against Jamaica in the quarterfinal.
Two matches will be played to decide the finalists.
USA vs Qatar
The USA is on the verge of wrestling the title from Mexico. Greg Berhalter called up a relatively weaker squad, yet, the team has a 100% record so far at the tournament. The likes of Sergino Dest, Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna were given a rest after the Nations League.
The Yanks needed a late goal from Matthew Hoppe to go past Jamaica.
Berhalter’s men have been defensively solid, allowing just one goal the entire tournament. They have also been decent offensively, scoring nine goals. One can argue, though, that six of the goals came against Martinique. They will need to be fluid against Qatar who has been particularly prolific themselves.
Daryl Dike will be the player to watch out for having scored two goals so far.
Qatar will simply look to continue its fairytale run as they hope to become the first invited team to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The team has continued to show signs of improvement since winning the Asian Cup in 2019. They faced their truest test against El Salvador in a game they should have won comfortably having led 3-0. El Salvador almost staged a comeback by scoring two second-half goals.
The United States have the added advantage of playing at home. However, Qatar will push them hard.
The USA should do enough to progress.
Prediction: USA to progress
Mexico vs Canada
El Tri has improved game after game since they drew against Trinidad and Tobago in the first match.
While this isn’t Tata Martino’s best team, the quality in this squad is very good. They saw off Honduras in convincing fashion in the quarterfinal, winning 3-0.
Rogelio Funes-Mori has been immense for them since making his debut a month ago. The forward has scored three goals at this tournament.
Canada will be Martino’s toughest opponent and his boys will need to rise to the occasion.
The Canucks played their best game of the tournament in the 2-0 win over one of the tournament favourites, Costa Rica.
Cyle Larin and Stephen Eustaquio have been the team’s inspiration, scoring three goals each. Eustaquio will need to replicate his quarterfinal performance against the Mexicans as Larin has been ruled out of the match.
This will be a hard-fought tie with both teams desperate to qualify for the final. However, it has all the makings of a goal-fest.
Prediction: Over 2.5 goals