Mexico vs. Panama
Date and Time: Friday, September 1, 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
Opening Soccer Odds: Mexico -350
Mexico vs. Panama TV Coverage: FOX Sports 2
Had Mexico reached the finale of the Gold Cup, Juan Carlos Osorio's suspension would be over with by now. Instead, the final punishment for being eliminated from the Gold Cup a match early by Jamaica in the semifinals is Osorio having to serve out the last match of his six-match suspension here in this very important clash.
Still, El Tri should feel good about themselves in spite of their suspect summer that included finishing fourth in the Confederations Cup and in the semifinals of the Gold Cup. The team has 14 points of a possible 18 to show for its work in World Cup qualifying, and even if it didn't get a single point the rest of the way, there's a good chance that would be enough to get to Russia. A win would remove all doubt and clinch up the spot in the World Cup.
Panama still has a long road left in front of it. The team has to travel in this match to Mexico, then play at home against Trinidad & Tobago. The two matches at the end of the World Cup qualifying road at the United States and home against Costa Rica figure to yield very little in terms of points, and that's why Los Canaleros need everything they can get right now and will hope to hold on tight from there.
The Last Meeting
Mexico was really all out of sorts when it faced off with Panama in Panama City back in November. El Tri had just beaten the United States in Columbus, a place where they largely never had success over the course of their history, and anything that could have been had from that match against Panama would have made the end result of those two fixtures fantastic.
That said, that scoreless draw really set the stage for Osorio's struggles here in 2017. The result in a vacuum was a good one, but that doesn't mean it was emotionally solid to run through 90 minutes without a single goal. The Mexican fans demand beautiful results each and every time out no matter the competition, and the fact that El Tri really never looked threatening in that match in spite of the fact that they had the majority of the ball as they always do was a concern at the time.
Mexico vs. Panama Free Picks
Even though Estadio Azteca is a nightmare to play at, we can't bring ourselves to understand why the top 10 online sportsbooks are all lining the Mexicans at -1.5 on the Asian Handicap. There are just too many good plays here to avoid this game.
Panama at +1.5 on the Asian Handicap figures to be solid, knowing that Mexico flat out never seems to have the will to go on and score a second goal after taking a 1-0 lead unless it concedes. The under feels like the right play as well with both of these sides more interested in getting out of the 90 minutes with at least something to show for their work instead of the disgrace of being left with nothing.
Though Osorio has called upon a veteran squad including Andres Guardado, Gio dos Santos, Hector Moreno and Chicarito Hernandez, we aren't sure the motivation is truly going to be there. This could result in a second straight scoreless draw between these two teams. Take your pick on your favorite play.
Mexico vs. Panama Soccer Pick: Under 2.5 at BookMaker.eu
Mexico vs. Panama Score Prediction: Mexico 0, Panama 0