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CONCACAF Gold Cup final preview: Tall order for Panama

The CONCACAF Gold Cup wraps up this weekend, with Mexico and Panama meeting in Inglewood.

Having made a surprise run to the final, Panama must see off the competition's most successful side in order to lift the trophy.

Mexico are hoping to finish on a high after impressing at the Gold Cup so far. Having lost the Nations League final to the USA earlier this summer, this young side could bounce back by taking the confederation's top title on Monday.

WhatCONCACAF Gold Cup Final
WhereSoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California, USA
When00:30, Monday 17th July 2023
How to watchbet365 European Soccer Live Streaming Highlights & ViaPlay
OddsMexico 13/20, Draw 5/2, Panama 11/2

Panama search for first title

As they prepare for their third Gold Cup final, Panama are dreaming of taking the title for the first time in their history. The outsiders return to the final for the first time since losing to the United States in 2013.

Panama have exceeded expectations this summer and they have bounced back from a tough group stage exit in 2021. Having reached the final four of the Nations League this year too, they've put themselves in a strong position as they hope for a return to the World Cup in 2026.

This competition has been dominated by the USA and Mexico through the years, with Canada being the only other country to win the Gold Cup since the first edition in 1991.

For all Panama's recent success, they still have a huge mountain to climb in this clash. They're 11/4 to lift the trophy, as they try to dent Mexico's impressive record at the Gold Cup.

Can Panama keep this close?

The outsiders were able to eliminate the USA in the semi-finals, but meeting Mexico will be a very different challenge. El Tri have been in fantastic form at this tournament, winning four of their five games. While they slipped up against Qatar, they had already booked a place in the second round before that clash.

Mexico have won by two clear goals in each of their four victories heading into this game and they were able to beat Panama in the Nations League third-placed play-off last month. A gulf remains between the rest of CONCACAF and the three 2026 World Cup hosts, with Mexico and the US the two standout sides.

Off-pitch issues could hold back Canada in years to come while the US haven't been all that convincing under coach Gregg Berhalter. That's created an opening for Mexico to move clear as CONCACAF's top side as the build-up to 2026 continues.

Of course, El Tri have already solidified themselves as the top team in Gold Cup history with eight wins and they're odds-on to make it nine this weekend.

While Mexico may have left some big names behind for this tournament, this is a talented squad who have looked strong in all areas the pitch so far. They dominated throughout against Jamaica in their 3-0 semi-final win and the strength of their side makes El Tri worthy favourites to lift the trophy at 2/7.

Routine win for Mexico

Mexico have conceded in only two of their games at this tournament and they were able to claim victories to nil in both the quarter-final and semi-final. With Panama failing to score in the opening 90 minutes against the US in the last round, Mexico's defence should be expected to hold firm in the final.

Mexico won 1-0 when these two sides met last month and El Tri have won to nil in four of the last five clashes between the two. At 11/8, Mexico to win to nil appeals in this clash. The favourites have displayed the scoring threat needed to put this one to bed before extra-time, while their defensive record should keep Panama at bay.

Mexico led from the second minute in the last round and they meet a Panama side who conceded in all three group games, so the Gold Cup's most successful side should put this to bed quite early. They're 8/5 to lead at half-time and full-time.

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