CONCACAF Gold Cup: Qatar vs Panama Prediction
Even with Euro 2020 and Copa America coming to a close, there’s more international football to be played. Qatar and Panama will kick off Group D’s Gold Cup action this Tuesday, and with both being favored to advance, this should be a good one. Stick around and read our Qatar vs Panama prediction!
HISTORY: This is the first time these two nations will collide. Panama has had a bit of success in this tournament, finishing as runner ups in 2005 and 2013.
Qatar: Tale of the Tape
Projected XI: Al Sheeb; Hassan, Al-Rawi, Khoukhi; Madibo, Al-Haydos, Boudiaf, Hatem; Ali, Muntari, Afif
Qatar will be making their first Gold Cup appearance ever after accepting the CONCACAF’s invitation, and they could emerge to shock the field. Felix Sanchez’s team enters in excellent form, carrying a six match unbeaten streak into the tournament. Qatar picked up two World Cup Qualifying wins over India and Oman, before defeating El Salvador with ten men during a tune up on July 4th.
Sanchez will likely line up in a 3-4-3 formation with Saad Al Sheeb making his 76th cap in goal. He’ll be covered by the three man line of Al-Saad tandem of Abdelkarim Hassan and Boualem Koukj, and Al Duhail’s Bassam Al-Rawi. Hassan is the second most capped (103) player in Sanchez’s squad, while Kouki has 19 goals in 79 appearances.
The midfield is led by star player Hassan Al-Haydos. He’s the most capped player on the team, and he’s one of Qatar’s all-time leading scorers, netting 31 goals in 141 appearances. Al-Haydos scored the lone goal in the World Cup Qualifying win over Oman, and netted a brace in the 2-1 victory over Azerbaijan.
He will be joined in the midfield by Al-Rayyan’s Abdulaziz Hatem and the Al-Duhail duo of Assim Madibo and Karim Boudiaf. Hatem scored the winner in the WCQ win over India, a game in which Qatar outshot their opponents 38-1. Almoez Ali, Mohammed Muntari, and Akram Afif will look to continue firing atop the formation. Muntari scored the first goal of 2021 for Qatar in a win over Luxembourg. Ali and Afif will be making their 62nd and 63rd cap, respectively. Qatar would go down to ten men before a strike from Ali led to a 1-0 win over El Salvador last week.
Panama: Tale of the Tape
Projected XI: Mejia; Peralta, Machado, Davis, Palacios; Griffith, Godoy, Yanis, Camargo; Aguilar, Torres
Panama will be making their 10th appearance in the Gold Cup. After picking up runner up finishes in 2005 and 2013, they enter as the favorites to win Group D. Despite dropping their last outing 3-0 to Mexico, Panama breezed through their first round of World Cup Qualifying matches before defeating Curacao 2-1 on aggregate to advance.
Thomas Christiansen in the classic 4-4-2 formation with Luis Mejia between the sticks. The Feniz keeper will be making his 31st cap with the centre-back pairing of Eric Davis and veteran San Carlos man Adolfo Machado covering. Tauro’s Richard Peralta and San Fran’s Francisco Palacios will push forward in the flanks with speedy wingers Victor Griffith and Miguel Camargo.
Anibal Godoy and Cesar Yanis will sit in the middle of the formation. Godoy’s role will be huge in this game, as Qatar figures to come out firing. The Nashville SC star is making his 105 cap, and he will have to win the battle with Al-Haydos in the midfield to slow this attack down. Fellow veterans Alberto Quintero and Armando Cooper are options to feature as well.
UNAM’s Gabriel Torres and San Carlos’ Jorman Aguilar will be counted on for goal production. With no true maestro in the midfield, more pressure will fall on Torres to shoot and create chances for Panama. Torres netted four goals in the runaway win over Anguilla, and he’s scored at three of the previous four Gold Cup tournaments.
Players to Watch
Al-Haydos will be the best player on the field and Qatar’s offense will flow through him. He’s versatile enough to play high or low in the formation, and he’s creative. If this outing goes well, he could emerge as one of the players of the tournament.
Torres’ is the only player with more than 18 international goals to their name, so if Panama looks to get anything going, it will likely come through him. Capitalizing will be huge in this game, and Torres has to prove he can be counted on.
Qatar vs Panama Prediction & Pick
The likelihood of Qatar crashing this tournament and spoiling a few summers is very likely. Beyond the United States and Mexico, the Gold Cup has always remained open, with Panama and Jamaica often sneaking into the knockout stage. Panama’s experience in this tournament should factor into their favor, but Qatar can’t be taken lightly here.
Qatar was invited to inject some life into the field and they may just start here on a strong note. They have the upper hand at all four levels arguably, and they enter in terrific form. The experience and familiarity within their squad should be helpful on this new stage, as nearly all of Sanchez’s squad are teammates at the club level. Bet on Qatar to win, both teams to score, and this could be a three score game so target over 2.5 goals.
PREDICTION: QAT 2 PAN 1
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