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CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019: Group B Preview

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Group B seems to be predictable, but are there surprises in store?

Costa Rica v United States Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Costa Rica will be the clear favorites to win a relatively weak Group B. Los Ticos should easily collect 9 points, while Haiti has an excellent chance to finish second. Barring some incredible surprises, Bermuda and Nicaragua will battle to avoid finishing last. In the quarter-finals, The Group B winner will face the second place team from Group A and the second place team from Group B will face the Group A winner.

Schedule:

June 16

Haiti vs. Bermuda 6 PM ET

Costa Rica vs. Nicaragua 8:30 PM ET

June 20

Nicaragua vs. Haiti 7 PM ET

Costa Rica vs. Bermuda 9:30 PM ET

June 24

Bermuda vs. Nicaragua 6:30 PM ET

Haiti vs. Costa Rica 9:00 PM ET

Bermuda

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 175/151

Recent Record: Bermuda has won the only two matches its played in 2019: a 3-1 victory over the Dominican Republic in March and a 1-0 win against Guyana last week. Despite the positive recent results, the Gombey Warriors will be lucky if they can simply keep games close. Look for coach Kyle Lightbourne to utilize an extremely defensive style.

Odds of Winning: Dark Horse

One to Watch: Nakhi Wells is one of the few Bermuda players who play abroad. The QPR striker has a high work-rate and is nearly as good at creating chances as he is at scoring. In 43 appearances this season for EFL Championship side Burnley, Wells scored 9 goals and added 6 assists.

Costa Rica

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 38/43

Recent Record: Costa Rica has been rather unimpressive in recent matches, losing 1-0 to Guatemala and then beating Jamaica 1-0 in March friendlies. Los Ticos lost 1-0 in a friendly against Peru on June 5. In the group stages, Costa Rica will dominate possession and look to move quickly in the offensive third.

Odds of Winning: In the Running

One to Watch: Attackers Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz will receive a lot of attention, but centerback Kendall Waston is crucial to Los Ticos chances of winning. The 6’5” defender is a dominant aerial presence and excellent tackler.

Haiti

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 100/80

Recent Record: Haiti has played three games in 2019: a 2-1 March victory over Cuba in CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying, a 1-0 friendly loss to El Salvador on June 2, and a 2-1 friendly loss to Chile on June 6. Haiti possesses solid attacking talent in Duckens Nazon and Derrick Etienne but a subpar defense will likely be its undoing.

Odds of Winning: Dark Horse

One to Watch: Duckens Nazon is Haiti’s most dangerous attacker and has scored more goals than anyone else on the roster (16 goals in 28 appearances). Nazon is a crafty dribbler, who is lethal inside the eighteen. He scored 3 goals and added 1 assist in 18 appearances this season. Nazon spent the first half of the season with Sint-Truidense V.V. of the Belgian Jupiler League before joining St. Mirren of the Scottish Premier League, on loan, at the close of the January transfer window.

Nicaragua

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 129/138

Recent Record: Nicaragua beat Barbados 1-0 in CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying and lost to Guatemala 1-0 in a March friendly. It suffered a 5-1 friendly loss against Argentina on June 7. Nicaragua will play extremely defensively and will be lucky to pick up points against any opponent other than Bermuda.

Odds of Winning: Dark Horse

One to Watch: Juan Barrera is a dynamic playmaker who excels at drawing fouls and is the greatest player in Nicaraguan history. He plays for CSD Municipal in Guatemala and will have to raise his game to another level if Nicaragua is to advance.

Who will advance from Group B? What match will be the most exciting to watch?