Mexico vs. Costa Rica World Cup Qualifier Odds, Predictions & Betting Preview For Sunday

Mexico vs. Costa Rica World Cup Qualifier Odds, Predictions & Betting Preview For Sunday article feature image
Credit:

Hector Vivas/Getty Images. Pictured: Henry Martin.

  • Mexico and Costa Rica play their second match of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in Sunday's latest fixtures.
  • El Tri earned a 2-1 win against Jamaica earlier in the week, while Costa Rica settled for a draw with Panama.
  • Ian Quillen explains below why he sees value in the match's total due to Costa Rica's aging roster.

Costa Rica vs. Mexico Odds

Costa Rica Odds +350
Mexico Odds -130
Draw +235
Over/Under 2.5 (+110 / -145)
Day | Time Sunday | 7 p.m. ET
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Mexico look to build on their winning start to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying when they visit a historically difficult opponent in Costa Rica on Matchday 2.

Henry Martin’s 89th-minute winner made Mexico the only team to earn three points on Matchday 1 on Thursday night with a 2-1 home victory over Jamaica.

Costa Rica started their final round with a 0-0 draw at Panama, a score that belied the hosts’ dominance in terms of chance creation.

These sides last met competitively in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals in June, a 0-0 draw that was decided on penalties in Mexico’s favor.

Costa Rica Rely On Veteran Experience

The Ticos come into this qualifying cycle looking to prove their aging core is still good enough to earn results against CONCACAF’s best on a regular basis and strong enough to handle the wear of a compacted qualifying schedule.

Some 11 of the 27 players called into for the three September matches by Luis Fernando Suarez are over 30, including eight field players.

But the Colombian manager clearly has load management in mind if his XI against Panama was an indication.

Captain Celso Borges was the only player in the Ticos‘ front five over the age of 26. And an inexperienced attacking group spent most of the evening trying to make life difficult for the Panamanians rather than trying to create anything themselves.

Despite some nervy moments, it worked. That means 36-year-old attacking midfielder Bryan Ruiz may be able to start without a minutes limitation on Sunday in attacking midfield. He played only the final 16 minutes in Panama.

Another experienced attacker — 29-year-old Joel Campbell — did not make the substitute’s bench for Matchday 1, though he was a part of the cohort of players called in.

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Mexico Must Improve Finishing Chances

Manager Tata Martino must’ve surely thought he would have Wolverhampton forward Raul Jimenez at his disposal by now.

Jimenez has recovered from a scary facial injury last November and has returned to first-team action in the Premier League this season.

But after missing the Nations League and CONCACAF Gold Cup, now he has been prevented from national team duty by the Premiership’s decision not to release players to nations listed on the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 travel red list.

Rogelio Funez Mori got the nod in Jimenez’s absence against Jamaica after also playing the center forward role through most of the Gold Cup.

But El Tri’s two goals came from play at the edge of the penalty, and while they dominated in shots 27-4, their ability to only put seven of those on frame speaks to a weakness inside the 18.

Betting Analysis & Pick

The personnel changes substantially within national teams over a decade. But the picture for Mexico and Costa Rica has been consistent enough that it’s worth at least surveying trends for anything interesting.

There’s two worth considering here:

  1. These teams have drawn their last three matches in sanctioned competitions (i.e. not friendlies) and four of their last seven.
  2. There have been two or fewer goals scored in nine of these teams’ last 10 meetings in sanctioned competitions.

The first trend held true in the Nations League, but I worry that the Ticos‘ age could catch up with them rather suddenly.

The second trend feels very likely to hold. And the price of the total under 2.5 goals at -145 odds and an implied 59.2% already feels like a bargain when it has hit nine  out of the last 10 times.

There’s no reason for El Tri to be overly aggressive in search of goals after a Matchday 1 win. And Raul Jimenez’s absence remains a very real limitation for a team that hasn’t found an obvious replacement in the No. 9 role.

The Ticos may feel more burden to create this game. They just don’t have the athleticism where taking lots of chances and leaving lots of space makes a ton of sense.

Pick: Total under 2.5 goals (-145)

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