Nicaragua and Costa Rica will open their respective 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup campaigns on June 16, 2019, at the National Stadium in La Sabana in Costa Rica.
Both teams are bracketed in Group B of the tournament along with Haiti and newcomer Bermuda. The four teams will play their group games in Costa Rica and in the United States. Costa Rica thus becomes the first Central American country to host a Gold Cup match. A match between Haiti and Bermuda will serve as the curtain-raiser for Costa Rica’s 2019 Gold Cup debut against Nicaragua on June 16th.
The four teams will play a round-robin stage where the top two teams will advance to the next round. The Group B winner will face the Runner-Up from Group A in the quarterfinals while the Runner-Up of Group B will face the Group A winner in the same round. Below is the full Group B schedule:
- June 16 (National Stadium of Costa Rica)
- Haiti vs. Bermuda
- Costa Rica vs. Nicaragua
- June 20 (Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas)
- Nicaragua vs. Haiti
- Costa Rica vs. Bermuda
- June 24 (Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey)
- Bermuda vs. Nicaragua
- Haiti vs. Costa Rica
We already previewed the game between Haiti and Bermuda in a previous article. Now let’s take a look at the match between Costa Rica and Nicaragua:
Nicaragua entered the 2019 Gold Cup via the 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League qualifying tournament. The Nicaraguans finished the tournament with a record of three wins an a loss while accumulating a goal difference of +7 to finish 9th overall. Ranked 129th in the world by FIFA before qualifying, Nicaragua will be making its 5th CONCACAF championship appearance ( including the Gold Cup). Their best finish in this competition was 6th in 1967.
Football isn’t as popular in Nicaragua as it is in the countries of most Gold Cup teams. The CONCACAF Gold Cup started in 1990 but it was only in 2009 that Nicaragua first qualified for the tournament, its first in a major international football tournament They were also here in 2017 but they did not make it past the group stages.
This is Henry Duarte’s final squad:
- Goalkeepers: Justo Lorente, Henry Maradiaga, Brayan Rodriguez
- Defenders: Francisco Flores, Luis Copete, Oscar Lopez, Camphers Perez, Manuel Rosas, Carlos Montenegro, Rene Huete, Josue Quijano
- Midfielders: Marlon Lopez, Daniel Cadena, Renato Punyed, Kevin Serapio, Agenor Baez, Junior Arteaga, Jorge Betancur, Armanto Gkoufas
- Forwards: Byron Bonilla, Carlos Chavarria, Juan Barrera, Luis Galeano
Odds from Bet365 as of 6/11/19
Costa Rica entered the 2019 CONCACAF World Cup via the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Hexagonal, where they finished second to Mexico. Costa Rica is the co-host of the 2019 Gold Cup and they enter this competition ranked 3rd in the CONCACAF and 38th in FIFA’s world rankings. Costa Rica has won three Gold Cups, the last of which was in 1989. Their best finish since then was as Runners-up in 2002.
Although some consider Costa Rica as minnows, they aren’t what they are perceived to be. They qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 2002, 2006 and 2014 and during the latter, they topped a Group that included former World Cup champions England, Italy and Uruguay. They went on to the quarterfinals where they lost to the Netherlands via penalties after forcing the Dutch to a scoreless draw in regulation and extra time.
Here is Gustavo Matosas’s final squad:
- Goalkeepers: Leonel Moreira, Marco Madrigal, Bryan Segura
- Defenders: Giancarlo Gonzalez, Cristian Gamboa, Bryan Oviedo, Francisco Calvo, Oscar Duarte, Kendall Waston, Ronald Matarrita, Keysher Fuller
- Midfielders: Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges, Christian Bolanos, Yeltsin Tejeda, Elias Aguilar, Allan Cruz, Randall Leal, Jimmy Marin
- Forwards: Alvaro Saborio, Joel Campbell, Jonathan McDonald, Mayron George
Nicaragua is coming off a 1-5 thrashing at the hands of Argentina in a friendly last June 7th. Lionel Messi scored twice in that match. However, the Nicaraguans are 2-2 with one draw in their last five games played, including 2-1 in the CONCACAF Nations qualifying tournament. Their other loss in their last five games played was a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Haiti. The soccer betting odds aren’t giving them much chance to beat Costa Rica in this match.
Costa Rica enters this match having won just twice in their last five games played. The Costa Ricans are coming off a 0-1 defeat to Peru in an international friendly last June 6th. They beat Peru 3-2 last November 21, 2018, and defeated Jamaica 1-0 last March 27th. Costa Rica was held scoreless in each of their three losses during this period.
There’s too much experience on the side of Costa Rica here. Captain Bryan Ruiz who plays for the Brazilian club Santos has 25 goals scored in 120 international matches. Then there is also Leon’s Joel Campbell who has a total of 85 caps. A key absence in the Costa Rican team is goalkeeper Keylor Navas who was left out by boss Gustavo Matosas because of the goalkeeper’s current club situation. For Nicaragua, they will be led by their captain Juan Barrera who has 45 caps and a total of 17 goals scored. Costa Rica lost to Peru 0-1, in their lone tune-up match for the Gold Cup.
Costa Rica has owned Nicaragua in their head to head history. Although their most recent encounter ended in a scoreless draw, Costa Rica has won 16 out of their last 18 meetings with Nicaragua’s lone win coming in 1950. I don’t expect the results to change this time around. I”m picking Costa Rica to beat Nicaragua on 06/16/19.