Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prediction: Mexico vs United States

Verdict: Draw

Best Odds: 5/2

Bookmaker: William Hill

Even though Mexico are almost certain to book a ticket to Russia, they can now do so by putting a dent into USMNT’s hopes of reaching the tournament finals, so no doubts the high-profile clash will draw huge crowds to Estadio Azteca, with USA eager to further improve their qualifying hopes.

Mexico

Mexico are one of just six countries to have qualified to every World Cup finals since 1994 and it is clear that the impressive trend is going to continue in Russia. But, having been eliminated in the last 16 stage in each of those six occasions, El Tri will be hoping to at least reach the quarter-finals this time out. Juan Carlos Osorio’s charges first need to qualify for the finals, but that should be a mere formality considering that they are five points clear at the summit with five games to go. Mexico made another important step towards the 2018 World Cup as they hammered Honduras few days ago, with Oswaldo Alanis, Hirving Lozano and Raul Jimenez getting on the scoresheet. The Benfica striker was surprisingly preferred to Javier Hernandez and Oribe Peralta, but he justified his inclusion and is likely to keep his place in the side. The USA clash will also serve as a perfect test for Mexico ahead of the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia where El Tri will face Euro 2016 winners Portugal in their opening fixture.

Team News

Rafa Marquez, Miguel Layun, Andres Guardado and Jurgen Damm are some of the players to have been cut from the preliminary squad, while Mexico’s all-time top scorer Javier Hernandez will be hoping to play a part.

United States

Despite showing a great deal of improvement in recent years, the USMNT have yet to achieve a meaningful success on the international stage. USA did well to reach the semi-finals at the 2016 Copa America Centenario on home soil, but eventually had to settle for a fourth-place finish. The team then had a pretty disappointing start to the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, suffering back to back defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica, and the two results ultimately saw Jurgen Klinsmann lose his job. Results appear to have improved under Bruce Arena, as USMNT went on to defeat Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago at home while sharing spoils with Panama on the road, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Midway through the qualifying campaign, USA occupy the final qualifying berth, sitting just one point above fourth-placed Panama and there are no doubts they will be under pressure when facing leaders Mexico.

Team News

Eric Lichaj, Greg Garza, Timothy Chandler and Gyasi Zardes have all been overlooked, while Bundesliga starlet Bobby Wood will again have to settle for a place on the bench.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Mexico won last two matches against USMNT
  • Their last four meetings produced 14 goals
  • El Tri won five of last six WC qualifiers at home
  • Mexico kept five successive clean sheets in WC qualifiers on home soil
  • Christian Pulisic managed 5 goals and 3 assists in 8 WC qualifiers

Conclusion

Mexico have been in fine form of late, especially at their Azteca Stadium, but we don’t think they will have an easy job against resurgent USMNT. Chances are that both teams would settle for a share of spoils and we are backing the bitter rivals to cancel each other out.

Verdict: Draw

Best Odds: 5/2

Bookmaker: William Hill

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