Martinique vs Mexico: Full Gold Cup Match Preview, Key Players, Prediction
It's difficult to preview a match on Sunday when the teams involved are both engaged elsewhere on the Thursday leading up to it. The results of the Thursday games can have a major effect on the Sunday game, not just in terms of confidence and fatigue, but also will-to-win—why would Mexico even bother if they lose to Panama later today?
But that's what us sports journalists do: We predict results and preview games, all so we can get slaughtered in the comments when the score goes completely the other way and a goalkeeper nets a brace from consecutive corners.
So here's a look at Sunday's matchup of tiny island nation Martinique against current Gold Cup and Olympics holders Mexico.
If you want a tiny inkling of how unpredictable this tournament is already, how about this: In group A, Martinique sit second on three points, having beaten Canada in the first game, while Mexico recover from a defeat by Panama on zero. Mental, eh?
All statistics only apply to tournaments that have been held since the CONCACAF Gold Cup was reformed in 1991 and are courtesy of Transfermarkt.
After stunning Canada with a very late winning goal on Sunday, the minnows from Martinique will be hoping to extend the upset to Sunday’s game against Mexico. Manager Patrick Cavelan will be pleased with beating the team that put an end to Martinique’s best Gold Cup run to date, when Las Matinino lost 6-5 on penalties in the quarter-finals.
However, playing in what is their fourth Gold Cup, they will have a tall order against a Mexican side that is currently reeling from an unexpected result of their own, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Panama.
Having got those precious points from their first match, if the Martiniquais defeat Panama on Thursday they are all but assured of qualification. Mexico have carried on the bad form that has plagued them for much of the year, and Panama are currently looking like the strongest team in the group, so Martinique must take the opportunity to play well against a Mexican side that will be low in confidence and take at least a point home.
You’d think that a change-around of the lineup would help matters, but Mexico looked as hapless in their last game against Panama as they did when the teams met in Panama City for a dull 0-0 World Cup qualifier in June. Only this time around, Panama took advantage of their opponents’ shortcomings.
Admittedly it wasn’t exactly the first team that ran out, with many players excused duty after their Confederations Cup exertions, but El Tri have got to pull themselves together if they are serious about claiming their third consecutive Gold Cup and seventh overall.
A particularly worrying aspect is the apparent inability to capitalise on the few chances they create, which, despite the team consisting of many different players, has carried through from the World Cup qualifiers and Confederations Cup and now threatens to derail yet another campaign.
With Panama favourites to win their matches with Martinique and Canada, Mexico will need to take all three points from this game to not fall into the lucky dip that is the third-place qualification spot.
Martinique: Players to Watch
The Martinique captain is the hub of the midfield and caused problems for a usually sound Canadian side who were unable to gain meaningful possession, being broken up and pressured early on.
One of the more experienced of the Martiniquais, having played in France for most of his career, Parsemain’s passing could cause problems for the Mexican defence if they decide to reuse the 5-4-1 formation they adopted against Panama.
The 37-year-old Golden Star midfielder should really be hanging up his boots, but he proved his on-going worth by coming off the bench against Canada to strike a long-range shot in injury time that snatched victory for his side.
Again, it’s unlikely that he will start against Mexico, but if Daniel Herrelle proves ineffective on the day, expect to see Reuperne coming on desperate to reiterate how valuable he is to Patrick Cavelan’s plans.
After a slightly disappointing start to the tournament, in which he was replaced by Mathias Coureur 10 minutes before the end at 0-0, the Notts County striker is skillful enough that he knows he didn’t do himself justice in that game, and will be looking to make an improvement against Panama and then Mexico.
Luckily for him, his aerial prowess gives him the upper hand against a comparatively short Mexico side, and his teammates should look to get as many crosses to him as possible to fully exploit this advantage.
Mexico: Players to Watch
The 22-year-old Guadalajara midfield man is one of the up-and-coming prospects in Mexico, having featured regularly at different levels of the national team since the under-20s came third in the 2011 World Cup. He really came of age during Mexico’s 2012 Olympic triumph, playing a key role in the tournament and scoring one of two international career goals in the quarter-final.
However, he was unable to get forward with consistency on Sunday, and he will need to be more assured on the ball against a Martinique side who will use their physical presence to unhinge the Mexicans.
It’s all very well playing a false nine if you’re Spain (or even Italy), but seeing as Mexico’s main problem is getting the ball in the net, perhaps playing with someone up front who is known for not scoring an awful lot is slightly regressive?
Other options include Isaac Brizuela, but even he is not that great an alternative, with a goals-to-games record that doesn’t speak volumes about his prowess in front of goal.
But it remains probable that Jimenez will start against Martinique, barring a terrible showing against Canada (if he features), so it will be interesting to see how Jose Manuel de la Torre tweaks the midfield to give his forward more options.
Martinique will be riding high after their victory over Canada, but depending on the result against Panama, that bubble could have been further inflated or non-existent by the time they meet Mexico. Regardless, unlike some of the other competitors who have bigger fish to fry, such as the World Cup next year, this tournament is a big deal on the French island (Martinique are not FIFA-registered and therefore cannot take part in FIFA tournaments), so expect them to fight to the end.
Mexico, on the other hand, did not even bring their usual starting lineup, which is quite understandable. Even so, the quality of the players that are taking part is easily enough to progress from the group with little trouble, and they should realistically take Martinique to the cleaners.
But Mexico have a major goalscoring problem, and if a defence is putting its neck on the line as we expect Martinique’s to, no disparity in quality is enough to put the ball through a tangle of last-ditch tackles if they’re timed correctly.
Martinique will defend with their lives, while Mexico, depending on the result against Canada, may struggle to motivate themselves. Yet another low-scoring game involving Mexico rears its ugly head, but they'll probably just about edge it.
Martinique 0-1 Mexico