The return to national team duty of Carlos Vela (pictured) has boosted Mexico' 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup hopes. (Photo: Mexsport)
GLENDALE, Arizona – Sunday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup Group C doubleheader concludes with a meeting between Mexico and 2014 Central American Cup runner-up Guatemala at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:
1) Mexico gaining confidence
Many questions were being asked of Mexico prior to its Gold Cup opener with Cuba. A run of winless outings coupled with the loss of stars Javier Hernandez and Hector Moreno had left Tricolor fans unsure of what to expect. However, despite rising pressure, Mexico responded with aplomb on Thursday night, displaying a potent attack that yielded a 6-0 win over Cuba. It looked crisp in every facet the game and could have produced a larger margin of victory. The opposition will become more challenging as the Mexicans endeavor towards a record-extending seventh title.
2) Guatemala still in contention
With an opening match defeat in the rear-view mirror and a match-up with Mexico now looming, Guatemala faces a complicated road to the Gold Cup quarterfinals. Yet despite its arduous path, the Chapines are still in control of their own destiny. While a result against Mexico on Sunday would be a huge boost to the cause, Guatemala can still advance even in the event of a loss as the top two third-place finishers advance to the knockout stage. Goal differential serves as the first tie-breaker between the three third-place teams, a statistic the Central Americans will need to keep in mind.
3) Vela the star
Following a lengthy sabbatical, Mexico playmaker Carlos Vela has made a sparkling return to national team duty. The left-footed winger — currently with Real Sociedad in Spain’s La Liga — had looked sharp in pre-tournament friendlies and was again at his effervescent best against the Cubans. Striking a menacing figure throughout, Vela scored once and set-up teammate Oribe Peralta for another, while also managing to rattle the Cuban woodwork twice. With Vela, Peralta and teammate Giovani Dos Santos all combining in the attacking third, Mexico once again look capable of Gold Cup glory.