GAME INFORMATION: 7 P.M., TUESDAY, JULY 13 AT BBVA STADIUM, HOUSTON
BETTING ODDS: QATAR +115/PANAMA +240/DRAW +210
TOTALS: OVER 2.5 +130/UNDER 2.5 -175
Not into the All-Star Game? The Gold Cup’s got you covered with a chance to check out the hosts of next year’s World Cup. Qatar is a side most soccer fans know little about, given that the Crimsons have never played in the World Cup and every player on their roster competes in Qatar’s domestic league. But they’re the defending champions of Asia, having run through the tournament in 2019 without a loss and just one goal conceded. They’ll open against Panama, a tricky fixture given that Los Canaleros made the World Cup in 2018 and have had a fair amount of success in the Gold Cup. Panama is making its ninth straight appearance in the Gold Cup, and they’ve never failed to get out of the group stage. But given that Group D also includes a solid Honduras side, a result here is vital to keeping that streak alive.
MATCH BET: QATAR TO WIN TO NIL, +210
Reason: Qatar has won its past three matches to nil, and defense has been the name of the game for the Crimsons. At the 2019 Asian Cup, Qatar didn’t give up a single goal until the final against Japan. Meanwhile, Panama hasn’t scored in either of its past two matches and comes off a 3-0 loss to Mexico. As long as the Qataris can break down the door, backing them to win and keep the shutout makes a lot of sense.
SCORE BET: QATAR 1, PANAMA 0, +550
Reason: Qatar’s past three matches have all finished by a 1-0 scoreline, as the Crimsons have bested India, Oman and El Salvador. Plus, Qatar went to Europe in March and made a good show of itself, earning wins over Azerbaijan and Luxembourg and drawing with Ireland. Panama is rated a bit lower than the Salvadoran side that Qatar just beat on the road, so another 1-0 result seems a solid play.
SIDE BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS, -175
Reason: I can’t see this being a wide-open match. Group D is a three-team race for two spots (Grenada is a longshot to get out of the group stage), which means this match is going to dictate how both teams have to play against Honduras and Grenada in their remaining matches. Qatar is the more talented side, but a draw serves both teams’ interests, so this should be a tight, defensive battle where neither side wants to give up a chance. Going under is the safe play.