Jun 23, 2011

Mexico - Honduras

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011

In the quarter-finals, Mexico didn't deliver as expected, winning just 2-1, but I'm not going to lose my confidence in them. Guatemala can consider themselves fortunate to escape just with a 1-2 defeat. They scored early in the game, following a defensive mistake from Mexico, but after that goal, there was only one team on the field. Mexico dominated, managed to overturn the score and also missed several good chances to increase their lead. Menawhile, Honduras can also thank Lady Luck for this semi-final appearance. They weren't the better team in the quarters against Costa Rica, and had a lot of luck to qualify. First, Saborio missed a penalty in the second half, that would have given Costa Rica the lead. Then, there was a huge chance missed by Ticos in extra-time, before 2 players hit the crossbar in the following shoot-out, thus awarding Honduras a 4-2 penalty win. The handicap is finally lowered for Mexico, as was expected to be in the latter stages, and I don't think they will have any emotions to reach the final. They are simply a class better than all the other teams, and the worst case scenario that I can see is just a win by the minimum difference, but normally this should go down as an easy 2-0 or 3-0. GL!

Mexico (-1.25 AH) @ 1.82, 4/10
Result: 0-0, LOST

Jun 19, 2011

LDU Quito - Olmedo

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

Here we have pretty much the same situation as in Emelec's match, just that things are a bit reversed. From favorites, LDU now have the second chance to win the stage, after their mid-week defeat at home, against Deportivo. So today, even if they win their match, they still have to wait and hope that Emelec won't do the same. But even so, I doubt they won't be motivated enough. They have only 3 wins in the last 10 games (2 of them were defeats in Copa Libertadores), so they need to snap out of their bad form, and start winning again regularly, in order to keep the fans in their place, and also to keep coach Bauza in the club. Last 2 matches were bad for them, but the opponents weren't that easy (Barcelona and Deportivo), so we can't say LDU are in a crisis. And at home they won 7 out of 10, making them the second best home team (could be the best if they win today), while Olmedo are the poorest travelers in the league, with just 4 points from 10 matches. LDU should also find some motivation in the aggregate table, especially since they will also compete in Copa Sudamericana later this year. Full squad for LDU, and I'm pretty sure they will fight until the end. GL!

LDU Quito (-1.25 AH) @ 1.84, 3/10
Result: 1-1, LOST

Emelec - Espoli

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

I know these handicaps are a little higher than what I usually like to take, but I think that it shouldn't be too hard to be covered, as there is a huge difference in quality between these teams, and there is also a huge motivation for the better teams. One week ago, despite being leaders, Emelec had the second chance to win the stage and qualify to the final. But after LDU's slump mid-week, Emelec's final chances have been increased a lot, and now they depend only on themselves to win it. 3 points here and they are in the final, so there's definitely huge motivation for the players. Espoli is the poorest team in the league, and are 100% sure of finishing this stage rock-bottom. Just 5 points snatched in their away games, making them one of the worst travelers. They won't move aside for Emelec to win this match, especially since their morale should be very good after last week's 5-1 trashing of Cuenca (but Cuenca is in a serious downtrend, so the only surprise here should be the magnitude of the score), but I really don't think they have what it takes to take points from Emelec. In their last 10 matches played in Guayaquil, Emelec won 8, all of them by at least two goals. And I think that is very likely to happen again, as Emelec has both quality and motivation on their side. GL!

Emelec (-1.5 AH) @ 1.84, 3/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Mexico - Guatemala

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011

Mexico went into the quarter-finals with an 100% record in the group stage, reaffirming their status as huge favorites (especially after USA's recent slumps). But not only did they with all 3 of their matches so far, the fashion in which they did was really top-class: two consecutive 5-0 victories against El Salvador and Cuba, followed by a 4-1 win against Costa Rica, in a match where Mexico actually rested a couple of players. So it is quite clear that they are at least one class better than all of the other teams present. They should get a nice rest before this match (5 days between the matches), and I expect them to power their engines again (although they don't need even 50% to easily beat anyone). Guatemala managed an unspectacular qualification, but they were in the weakest group, along Jamaica, Honduras and Grenada. A draw with Honduras, defeat against Jamaica and just a 2-0 win with poor Grenada were enough for them to qualify, although as the best ranked 3rd place finisher. But they are poor, and if Jamaica managed to beat them easily, I also expect a total wash-out from Mexico. The handicap could have been bigger (I was actually expecting a -2.5), so this one looks more than acceptable. I just don't see Mexico failing to win by more than 3 goals. GL!

Mexico (-2.25 AH) @ 1.75, 4/10
Result: 2-1, LOST