Mexico continues its quest for the 2019 Gold Cup on Saturday, when it faces Costa Rica in Houston’s NRG Stadium.
Tata Martino’s side was not at its best as it overcame Martinique 3-2 to continue its winning start to the competition but still maintained a perfect record going into the knockout phase.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, suffered a shock 2-1 loss to Haiti as it finished second in Group B, ahead of Bermuda and Nicaragua.
Their last meeting with Mexico was a friendly match in October 2018, which they lost 3-2. Can the Ticos turn the tables when it really matters?
|Game||Mexico vs Costa Rica|
|Date||Saturday, June 29|
|Time||3:00am BST / 10:00pm ET|
|Stream (US)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|Univision / Fox Sports 1||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be broadcast on FreeSports.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Ochoa, Orozco, Gonzalez|
|Defenders||Moreno, Reyes, Gallardo, Araujo, Salcedo, Alvarez, L. Rodriguez, C. Montes, Navarro|
|Midfielders||Guardado, J. Dos Santos, L. Montes, Pineda, Gutierrez, Alvarado, C. Rodriguez, Antuna|
|Forwards||Jimenez, Pizarro, Vega|
Hector Moreno continues to struggle with injury and may not see any game time in this clash. He is one of just two players in the 23-man squad not to have taken to the field yet in the competition, with Hugo Gonzalez, the third-choice goalkeeper, the other.
Goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco, who featured against Martinique, has this week been given the chance to return home to be with his ill mother but has returned for this match.
Erick Gutierrez is missing with a hamstring problem and Rodolfo Pizarro is out, too.
Mexico starting XI: Mexico XI: Ochoa; Gallardo, Salcedo, Araujo, Rodríguez; Guardado, Alvarez, Dos Santos; Antuna, Jimenez, Pizarro
|Position||Costa Rica squad|
|Goalkeepers||Segura, Madrigal, Moreira|
|Defenders||Gonzalez, Fuller, Duarte, Oviedo, Calvo, Gamboa, Waston, Matarrita|
|Midfielders||Leal, Borges, Bolanos, Ruiz, Cruz, Tejadam Aguilar, Marin|
|Forwards||Saborio, George, Campbell, McDonald|
Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell are set to be the players to watch in the Costa Rica side, with coach Gustavo Matosas having to make a call whether to make changes after the loss to Haiti.
Costa Rica starting XI: Moreira; Fuller, Oviedo, Waston; Ruiz, Cruz, Leal, Borges; Campbell, George
Betting & Match Odds
Mexico are strong 2/5 favourites with bet365. Costa Rica can be supported at 8/1, while a draw after 90 minutes is 16/5.
Mexico may have recorded a 3-2 win over Martinique in Tata Martino’s seventh match in charge of the national team, but though he maintains a perfect record, it was not a case of seventh heaven for the coach, who watched his side struggle uncharacteristically against a side they were expected to sweep away.
It was a performance that comes as a warning ahead of the knockout phase of the 2019 Gold Cup, in which slips will be more severely punished against stronger opponents, such as quarter-final rivals Costa Rica.
“We made mistakes and conceded to goals to our opponents, the distractions we had today were serious, in another instance or against better opponents, they might have cost us,” Martino reflected upon the game.
Although the aim is clearly to win the Gold Cup this summer, the former Barcelona boss wants to take a long-term approach to his job in charge of Mexico, as he reflected on the eve of this fixture.
“We’re here to be champions but we’re not only thinking about a month of work, we’re considering a four-year processes,” he said. “The fewer distractions we have during these four years, the better.”
The Argentine, meanwhile, is surprised to face Costa Rica, one of the regions traditional big guns and a country that has never missed the quarter-finals of the competition, at this early stage.
“This was a match that could have been a semi-final,” he said.
Costa Rica counterpart Gustavo Matosas intends for his side to bounce back after their loss against Haiti in an aggressive, attacking manner, doubtless aware that Mexico have kept only one clean sheet in Martino's seven games.
“We’ll give it everything,” he promised in his pre-match press conference.
He is a man who knows Mexican football inside out, given that he won two Liga MX titles with Leon and a Concacaf Champions League with Club America.
“I don’t think it’s an advantage,” he added. “There are a lot of new players and the manager’s style is always going to change. I think when [Juan Carlos] Osorio was there, I knew a bit more. Now Martino it’s just what I’ve seen.
“I don’t think knowing the players has a lot do with it. What it does have to do with, for me, from my point of view, is all the years I lived in Mexico I learned the characteristics of the Mexican player. This could be an advantage. But, beyond that, a lot of times you know what a player can do but you can’t stop him.”
Martino will certainly hope that proves to be the case on Saturday.