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Mexico v. Cuba: What to Watch For

Soccer: Equador at Mexico Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Mexico National Team kicks off their participation in the 2019 Gold Cup when they take on Cuba in Pasadena, California. On paper, Mexico are facing arguably one of the weakest teams in the competition, and anything less than a convincing win would be seen as a big surprise.

Here are three things to watch for as El Tri being their Gold Cup campaign.

The starting XI. We have a pretty good understanding of what Mexico’s starting XI will look like, and even reporters close to the team have already unveiled what they think will be El Tri’s starting lineup. Usually guys like Ruben Rodriguez are quite reliable when it comes to these sort of things, and odds are they’ll probably be right once again.

The most telling thing, of course, is that Mexico is clearly still not 100%. Edson Alvarez not starting leads us to believe that he is still struggling for fitness, while coach Gerardo Martino opting for Diego Reyes as defensive midfielder instead of center back is also an interesting choice.

How many goals will Mexico score? With all due respect, Mexico should go on to win this game quite comfortably. Though the course of Martino’s first four games in charge, El Tri has scored at least three goals in every single one of those matches, and you’d imagine that will be the case again versus Cuba.

Beyond just scoring goals, however, the important thing here will be keeping that same confidence in front of goal. Goals are confidence boosters, and it doesn’t matter if it is Cuba or France, they can do wonders to your psyche. If Mexico go on to win this game but do so in a matter in which it looks like they missed 30 chances in the process, players can starts second-guessing themselves. It has happened before.

How will Cuba arrive? While the narrative around Cuba will always be a political one, in terms of the CONCACAF region, they aren’t that bad of a team. Cuba have participated in three of the last four Gold Cups and have actually reached the Quarterfinals stage in each of their last two.

In theory, you imagine Cuba will sit back and try to hit Mexico on the counter, and though any sort of win or draw would be a monumental accomplishment, a narrow defeat would also be seen as a win, especially considering their next rival will be Martinique (the other fringe team in the group).

What do you think will end up happening in this match? Will Mexico win as comfortably as everybody expects?