Pandora Hughes brings us the latest betting picks for Canada's crucial World Cup qualifying games.
Canada has made a strong start to their World Cup qualification campaign and goes into this round of fixtures in third place in the CONCACAF Third Round qualifying group.
|Canada v Costa Rica|
Who do Bettors Favor?
Canada’s overall strong performances so far in this qualifying competition have obviously impressed bettors checking out the World Cup soccer odds on the best sportsbooks. The home side is rated as strong favourites to win the first of their two games, against Costa Rica. The visitors are considered a 6.00 outsider, while the draw is priced at 3.75.
Canada World Cup Qualifying Form
With only three World Cup automatic qualifying places available, Canada could not afford to start slowly, and their opening run of four fixtures saw them take on both the USA and Mexico.
After kicking off the campaign with a frustrating draw against Honduras, Canada earned a valuable point in Nashville, holding the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Nations League winners the USA to a draw.
Their next four games saw them pick up an impressive 8 points, including an excellent draw in Mexico City and comprehensive victories over Panama and El Salvador.
That consistent level of performance has enabled them to keep pace with the USA and Mexico, and given them a healthy four-point lead on fifth-placed Costa Rica. But Canada fans know that with four away games in their last six qualifying assignments, the team has to get as many points as they can from their consecutive home games in Edmonton, starting with the tie against Costa Rica.
Canada v Costa Rica, 2021-11-12
Canada’s strong start to the campaign means that Herdman has some tough team selection choices to make ahead of these crucial games.
Milan Borjan, who has long been the undisputed starting goalkeeper, is back for these games, having missed time due to COVID issues, but Maxime Crepeau has made a compelling case for keeping the gloves given his stellar form for Vancouver, and for his crucial role in the draw against Mexico.
Regular midfielder Atiba Hutchinson and striker Cyle Larin are also back, but in their absence, the team has been ticking along smoothly and Herdman may be reluctant to break things up. Jonathan Osorio, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Stephen Eustaquio have been excellent in midfield, so Hutchinson may have to start this game on the bench, while it will be tough on whoever out of the trio of Tajon Buchanan, Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David has to make way for Larin.
However Herdman opts to solve those issues, Canada are sure to start the game as strong favourites, although historically this has been a tough fixture for them, producing five wins and eight losses. Most recently, Canada secured a solid 2-0 win over Costa Rica in the Gold Cup quarter-finals and with home advantage and the Edmonton weather in their favour, they look a good bet to win this one, although the visitors will be tough to break down and patience will be required.
Canada v Mexico, 2021-11-17
A win against Mexico in their second November qualifying tie is not essential, particularly if they’ve been successful against Costa Rica, but in their current form, Canada will be confident of at least earning a point against the visitors, given that they matched them last time they met.
That game, in Mexico City, was the toughest fixture of the qualifying campaign, at least on paper, but Herdman’s young team defended stoutly to earn a draw. But this was no ‘park the coach’ endeavour. Canada matched the home side for possession and arguably had the better of the midfield battle, effectively disrupting Mexico’s gameplan and underlining Canada’s progression.
Mexico will come into this rematch following their tie with the United States, so will have had some time to acclimatize to North American conditions, although Edmonton will be significantly colder than Cincinnati. The visitors are in good form, and undefeated prior to their game against the USA, most notably registering a 5-0 aggregate score in beating Honduras and El Salvador in games five and six.
It will be fascinating to see what tactics Tata Martino opts for in this game. Mexico will want to impose themselves on their opponents, but that won’t be easy and their defensive vulnerability in wide areas makes that a risky strategy. Canada‘s coach will also face a tactical dilemma. A point or better against these opponents would be an excellent result, but such is the growing reputation of his team that Herdman may be tempted to go on the offensive from the beginning.
Given that both teams have made a good start to the campaign, they may feel they have the freedom to be positive, which could produce an enthralling clash between the young rising stars of Canada and Mexico’s established talent. Ultimately, however, a point apiece would satisfy both managers and I think that’s where this game will be headed.
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