The 2011 Concacaf Gold Cup in the United States has been whittled down to eight clubs after the group phase, so now the business begins.
The quarter-final draw is in and is as follows;
Costa Rica v Honduras
Mexico v Guatemala
Jamaica v United States
Panama v El Salvador
Here’s our chance to analyse who could go all the way, with a comprehensive preview ahead of the knockout stages.
Group Stage: 2nd in Group A
Results: Costa Rica 5-0 Cuba, Costa Rica 1-1 El Salvador, Mexico 4-1 Costa Rica
Topscorer: Marco Urena (3)
FIFA World Ranking: 56
2010 World Cup Qualifying: Knocked out in inter-confederation play-off by Uruguay 2-1 on aggregate
Star Player: Bryan Ruiz
The 2006 World Cup finalists haven’t been in great form during the 2011 Gold Cup, with their Dutch-based star striker Bryan Ruiz going goalless so far throughout the tournament. The Ticos’ 5-0 win over Cuba in their opening game is now a distant memory.
Costa Rica will be smarting from their 4-1 thrashing from El Tri, and the press back home have got on the team backs claiming its a crisis. Whatever the case, if the Ticos are to improve they need to rely on their experienced forwards.
Group Stage: 2nd in Group B
Results: Honduras 0-0 Guatemala, Grenada 1-7 Honduras, Honduras 0-1 Jamaica
Topscorer: Carlos Costly (3)
FIFA World Ranking: 43
2010 World Cup Qualifying: Qualified, 4th in Group H
Star Player: Wilson Palacios
The 2010 World Cup finalists haven’t really impressed as anticipated during the 2011 Gold Cup campaign. Of course, the Hondurans are without key men such as Maynor Figueroa and Emilio Izaguirre which explains their struggles to an extent.
However, Honduras failed to score in two of their group games and their 7-1 thrashing of Grenada covers up the reality that they are blunt in attack. Injuries to key pair Wilson Palacios (who hasn’t played yet) and Carlos Costly could hold the key to their success.
Group Stage: 1st in Group A
Results: Mexico 5-0 El Salvador, Cuba 0-5 Mexico, Mexico 4-1 Costa Rica
Topscorer: Javier Hernandez (5)
FIFA World Ranking: 28
2010 World Cup Qualifying: Qualified, 2nd in Group A, knocked out in Round of 16 by Argentina 3-1
Star Player: Javier Hernandez
El Tri have firmed as the 2011 Gold Cup favourites after a blistering group phase where they comfortably disposed of all of their opponents. There’s no doubt the Mexicans and Javier Hernandez have been the story of the tournament so far.
Incredibly, Mexico have done it without five players due to their substance abuse ban, although Fifa will let them replace those squad members.
Group Stage: 3rd in Group B
Results: Honduras 0-0 Guatemala, Jamaica 2-0 Guatemala, Guatemala 4-0 Grenada
Topscorer: Jose del Aguila, Marco Pappa, Carlos Ruiz & Carlos Eduardo Gallardo (1)
FIFA World Ranking: 124
2010 World Cup Qualifying: 3rd in Group 1 in Third round of Concacaf qualifying
Star Player: Marco Pappa
Guatemala face Mexico in the quarter-finals and they couldn’t have had more contrasting fortunes during the group stage. The Guatemalans didn’t score in their opening two matches scraping one point from those matches, before an easy 4-0 win over struggling Grenada.
The point, though, which those two early matches illustrates is this team lacks the firepower necessary to be any realistic threat. Being drawn against Mexico in the quarters doesn’t help either.
Group Stage: 1st in Group B
Results: Jamaica 4-0 Grenada, Jamaica 2-0 Guatemala, Honduras 0-1 Jamaica
Topscorer: Demar Phillips (3)
FIFA World Ranking: 55
2010 World Cup Qualifying: 3rd in Group 2 in Third round of Concacaf qualifying
Star Player: Dane Richards
The Reggae Boyz loom as a real danger in the knockout phase after a superb group phase where they didn’t concede a goal. To be fair, they’ll face a different level opponent in the United States in the quarter-finals but there’s no denying Jamaica have some talent.
This is one of Jamaica’s best ever teams and this is a side full of confidence. As well, after cruising through their first two matches, coach Theodore Whitmore opted to rest a number of key players which should help now. Jamaica’s pace on the flanks could offer them a huge advantage.
Group Stage: 2nd in Group C
Results: USA 2-0 Canada, USA 1-2 Panama, Guadeloupe 0-1 USA
Topscorer: Jozy Altidore (2)
FIFA World Ranking: 22
2010 World Cup Qualifying: Qualified, 1st in Group C, knocked out in Round of 16 by Ghana 2-1
Star Player: Landon Donovan
Team USA have hardly convinced so far in the Gold Cup and the subsequent low attendances have been telling. The USA suffered their first ever group play defeat in a Gold Cup to Panama during this tournament, meaning their route to the final might a touch tougher than expected.
The Americans had star pair Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey head off to attend weddings this week, meaning they missed training. The question about Team USA has been their focus and urgency and this specific incident may be symbolic. Do they really want it?
Group Stage: 1st in Group C
Results: Panama 3-2 Guadeloupe, USA 1-2 Panama, Canada 1-1 Panama
Topscorer: Gabriel Enrique Gomez & Luis Tejada (2)
FIFA World Ranking: 67
2010 World Cup Qualifying: Knockout in Second round of Concacaf qualifying by El Salvador 3-2 on aggregate
Star Player: Luis Tejada
If Mexico weren’t the story of the tournament, then Panama definitely are. Their stunning victory over the United States grabbed everyone’s attention, while their last-minute equaliser against Canada was pretty exciting too.
Midfield duo Gabriel Enrique Gomez and Amilcar Henriquez have been revelations controlling play, while Luis Tejada has impressed with his ability up forward. Armando Cooper has been creative in midfield too.
Group Stage: 3rd in Group A
Results: Mexico 5-0 El Salvador, Costa Rica 1-1 El Salvador, El Salvador 6-1 Cuba
Topscorer: Rodolfo Zelaya (3)
FIFA World Ranking: 87
2010 World Cup Qualifying: 5th in Final Round of Concacaf qualifying
Star Player: Rodolfo Zelaya
El Salvador only snuck into the knockout phase as one of the best third-place getters thanks to Panama’s late equaliser against Canada, but they won’t be hoping to re-pay any favours in the quarters when they meet.
El Salvador haven’t really done enough to impress, although their 6-1 win over Cuba showed what they can do. Their frontline is powerful, particularly Rodolfo Zelaya, and is the best part of their game.