CONCACAF Gold Cup - Cuba vs Costa Rica and Mexico vs El Salvador

European club soccer drew to a close on a high note – with the Champions League Final last weekend, which Barcelona won 3-1 over Manchester United convincingly – paving the way for international soccer on the online sports betting platform. And first up to take centre stage is the CONCACAF Gold Cup that gets underway at the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas on Sunday June 5th when Cuba takes on Costa Rica in Group A action, followed by Mexico vs. El Salvador.

Cuba vs. Costa Rica Preview and Picks:

BetUS Sportsbook tips Cuba as the significant underdogs at +450 while tipping Costa Rica at -200 to win the opening Group A clash and for good reason; that is, a vast chasm between these teams exists in performance and results in the context of this competition and where overall quality and status in the game is concerned.

Costa Rica has a rich history in this competition. While they are not the most successful – that is Mexico – they are third best in the CONCACAF region having won the title three times (1963, 1969 and 1989) and finishing runners-up once (2002) and finishing in third and fourth place numerous times.

High expectations preceded Costa Rica on their last spin in Gold Cup action and didn’t they almost come through on those but for a disappointing defeat to Mexico, the eventual winners, on penalties after their semi-final clash ended up in a 1-1 draw. Truth be told, Costa Rica were the better team; Mexico were just luckier.

Costa Rica has something to prove in this competition, perhaps more so than ever before, because not only did they fail in 2009 Gold Cup but they also failed to qualify for World Cup 2010. As such, they are one of the teams to watch.

As far as their opening match with Cuba, two words: no contest. Cuba isn’t a nation synonymous with soccer. You could say they are a non-soccer (footballing, if you like) nation, although they clearly have a national team. And true to type, their results are paltry in the sport. In this competition, for example, the only noteworthy result was a fourth place finish in 1971.

Soccer Betting Verdict: Here we have as straightforward a market as a matchup. The bookies have the right end of the stick by tipping Costa Rica as the huge favourites. Costa Rica has more depth and quality than Cuba has, which means they should outclass Cuba in a completely one-sided affair. Frankly, anything other than a convincing Costa Rica win would be a huge surprise. Put it another way: a win by Cuba would be a monumental upset, unprecedented by the nation in this competition.

Soccer Free Picks: Costa Rica 4-0 Cuba

Mexico vs. El Salvador Preview and Picks

Mexico is widely held the team to beat in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, hands down. The upshot of which is that Mexico is also the bookmaker’s outright fave in the market in the 2011 instalment of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Mexico is the defending champion and the most successful team in the competition proper with five titles. In 2009, they beat United States comprehensively in the final stunning the boys in red, white and blue 5-0 before a patriotic crowd at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

This year Mexico is gunning for an unprecedented sixth Gold Cup and if the markets were any indication it is their competition to lose.

As far as the opening match for Mexico is concerned, it’s not surprising to find them installed as the outright hot bet to win at -400. El Salvador, first to take on the defending champions, is listed at a whopping +700.

Few expect anything less than a strong start by Mexico. El Tri will be trotting out a new manager, which some believe takes the shine off them or at least poses several question marks – after all style, tactics and strategy change from coach to coach. Still, the talent is inherently the same.

Soccer Free Picks: Mexico 2-1 El Salvador