Costa Rica vs. Panama
Date and Time: Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 6 p.m. ET
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
Costa Rica vs. Panama TV Coverage: FOX Sports 1
Costa Rica and Panama are two somewhat comparable teams at this stage. Theoretically, Los Ticos are the better of the two teams, but after watching these two teams play in the group stage, it's hard to tell them apart.
Costa Rica finished at the top of Group A with seven points. That said, it was almost a bit disappointing that it didn't end up with the full nine out of nine. The match against Honduras to kick off the tourney could have easily gone either way, while the draw against Canada was nothing short of a disappointment. Sure, Los Ticos took care of business against French Guiana, but that was the easiest of the matches and never should have been a trouble.
Panama finished with the same seven points as Costa Rica, and the perception of its seven points was much greater than the perception of Los Ticos. Los Canaleros never had a worry in the world against Martinique in the final match of the group stage, and outside of an against the run of play goal allowed to Nicaragua, there wasn't much concern in that second match either. The best result clearly came against the United States, a 1-1 draw in which Panama was the better of the two sides.
Now, these teams are set to match wits for the third time in 10 months. In San Jose, Costa Rica came up with a 3-1 victory in World Cup qualifying. When the scene shifted back to Panama for Copa Centroamericana, it was the Panamanians who came up with a 1-0 victory.
This is a big match for sure, but it might not be the biggest these two play against each other in the next 12 weeks. The two will again face off in World Cup qualifying on October 10 in Panama City, the last match in the Hex for both sides.
All of the focus is on Bryan Ruiz in this tournament for Los Ticos. He's the most experienced player on this roster and the captain of the squad. Yet in three games in the Gold Cup, he's been relatively quiet, failing to score a goal in any of the three.
It's Marco Urena who has been the best striker on the pitch for Costa Rica. He has 11 goals for his country in 52 career matches, including the big strike against Honduras that saved a match that otherwise could have gone astray.
The Panamanian defense has been stout, but we have to remember that this is a very young back line. There isn't a player beyond the age of 28 in defense, and keeper, Jose Calderon can only do so much to direct traffic.
Costa Rica vs. Panama Free Picks
Costa Rica flat out hasn't impressed us, and we aren't sure that it's really worthy of being the overwhelming favorite in this match. These two are on pretty darn level terms, and we wouldn't be shocked if this fixture needed 120 minutes, and perhaps penalties to be decided.
In that case, we give the advantage to a Panamanian team with a 31-year old keeper with 25 career appearances over a Costa Rican team that left Keylor Navas at home and is counting on a clearly second-best Patrick Pemberton.
Costa Rica vs. Panama Soccer Pick: Panama on the Asian Handicap at BookMaker.eu
Costa Rica vs. Panama Score Prediction: Panama 1, Costa Rica 1 (Panama Advances on PKs)