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Gold Cup final preview: Mexico must handle the pressure of favourites' tag

The 17th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup reaches its conclusion in the USA on Sunday with Mexico and Panama set to meet in the final.

Los Angeles' impressive SoFi Stadium will play host to the showpiece event of the tournament.

WhatMexico v Panama
WhereSoFi Stadium, Los Angeles
When19:30 ET, Sunday July 16th 2023
How to watchFOX, FS1 and FS2
OddsMexico -154, Draw +250, Panama +550

Mexico firm favorites to land title

Mexico have impressed on their way to the final in Inglewood and are for many the deserved favourites at -154 going into this clash.

With head coach Jaime Lozano at the helm, El Tri finished top of Group B, which also included the likes of Qatar, Honduras and Haiti.

It was the perfect start to the tournament for Mexico thanks to a comprehensive 4-0 win over Honduras in Houston.

Mexico, who are the most successful side in Gold Cup history with eight previous titles, then headed to Glendale for their second game against Haiti and their place in the knockout stages was secured with a 3-1 win at State Farm Stadium.

Even with a 1-0 defeat to Qatar at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Mexico still managed to finish top of the group to set up a quarter-final showdown with Costa Rica.

Lozano saw his side secure a 2-0 win over Costa Rica, before an impressive 3-0 win over Jamaica in the semi-final at Allegiant Stadium in Nevada.

Mexico’s success has been largely built on a strong defence, which has only conceded two goals in the tournament and none in the knockout stages so far.

Panama looking to stun at SoFi

Panama have raised plenty of eyebrows on their way to the final, especially in the semi-final where they knocked out co-hosts the USA in a dramatic penalty shootout.

Panama's journey started in Fort Lauderdale with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica at DRV PNK Stadium.

Cusco FC forward Jose Fajardo bagged the opener in that game and was also the first goalscorer in their 2-1 victory over Martinique at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.

A 91st minute equaliser from El Salvador denied Panama a clean sweep of victories in Group C but it did little to knock Thomas Christiansen's side off their stride.

The former Leeds United boss, who spent just over six months at Elland Road, saw his side cruise past Qatar 4-0 in the quarter-finals before the shock of the tournament against the USA.

All square a 1-1 after extra time, Panama secured a memorable 5-4 win on penalties to secure their place in Sunday's final in LA.

The USA were the reigning champions heading into the competition this year but were without a number of their big names who ply their trade in Europe.

Still, the hosts will have thought they would have had enough quality, even with some of their biggest stars missing to overcome Panama, especially with the advantage of playing on home soil.

With a population of 4.3 million people, it's an impressive achievement from this Panama side to reach the final, which they are the underdogs at +550 to win in the 90 minutes.

A cagey encounter in store

With everything on the line at SoFi Stadium this weekend for this CONCACAF Gold Cup, a tight and cagey encounter might well be on the cards in California.

There has been very little between these two sides in their most recent meetings, with Mexico winning both of the last two encounters 1-0.

The same scoreline to occur in the 90 minutes on Sunday is available at +450.

Proceeding those two wins over Mexico in 2022 and earlier this year, these sides played out a 1-1 draw in World Cup qualifying.

With so little to choose from between these nations of late, another stalemate to take the game to extra-time is currently +250.

Looking at the Goalscorer market, Henry Martin is the favourite at +125 in the Anytime market to find the back of net for Mexico.

Cecilio Waterman is the shortest price for a Panama goalscorer at +400 to score, while Ismael Diaz, who has already scored four goals at the tournament is available at +450 in the Anytime market.

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