Cuba: Gold Cup Preview (Group stage)

Image result for cuba flag

United States PST                                        Prediction

6:30 pm Mexico v Cuba                                  Mex 2-2 Cub   1 point

6:00 pm Cuba v Martinique                             Cub 2-0 Mar   3 Points

6:00 pm Canada v Cuba                                 Can 1-2 Cub   3 points

Los Leones were in the qualifying rounds and with pure heart the Cuban side made it into the group stages as they dominated their 3 matches against Turks and Caicos Islands, Grenada and the Dominican Republic. As a Cuban-American and 99.9% of my blood being Cuban roots I root for the Leones over the US. My pride as a Cuban has brought me to be enthusiastic about this young team we have and with obvious talent.

Cuba’s Results for the Qualifying Rounds

Vs Turks and Caicos Islands                11-0 Win

Luis Paradela (7′, 36′, 49′)  Luismel Morris (32′, 83′)  Andy Baquero (35′, 45′)  Yordan Santa Cruz (52′, 54′) Roberney Caballero (65′, 77′)

Vs Grenada                                           2-0  Win

Luis Paradela (21′)  Yordan Santa Cruz (65′)

Vs Dominican Republic                         1-0  Win

Yordan Santa Cruz (83′)

Defense

Raul Meredos can go either way with his back 4 as they have been previously disappointing in previous tournaments. During the qualifiers, Cuba gave up 0 goals with Erick Rizo, Yosel Piedra, Yasmani Lopez and Lionis Martinez. They have not proven much past the group stage so at the moment I am not worried. Mexico is the only real scoring threat that Cuba will face in the group stage so there is definitely hope of moving past the group stage. The defense while in the past has made some costly mistakes in big moments but chemistry has led to composure in the Cuban defense. Behind the Centre-Backs is Sandy Sanchez who has proven to be an excellent keeper for Los Leones and helped close out the Qualifiers with clean sheets in every game. The defense will be critical for the Cuban side to dominate in these games and be able to use it on the counter-attack. This is where Cuba can capitalize and be able to grind out at least a goal or two while keeping opponents locked up on the back end.

Attacking

While Cuba Is not recognized as one of the best countries in the world, I feel there attack this year can take them over the hump. The Cuban attack is stacked and even the substitutes can come and make an impact in the scoring department. This attack is led by the lone Striker for the squad, Maykel Reyes who is not also an excellent scorer but a playmaker. The team so heavily relies on moving the ball and using pace which benefits the winning culture. Luis Paradela and Yordan Santa Cruz are the to top scorers for the national side this year and will look to continue their excellent form into the group stages and hopefully into the back of the net. Cuba has a very deep and talented midfield who have shown the ability these last couple of games to keep possession of the ball and make plays from that position, Players like Roberney, Caballero, Luismel Morris, and Andy Baquero ensure that the midfield stays in place and in position. The attacking side of Cuba and the team as a whole is as best as it’s been since 2015 and I have Cuba winning the gold cup.

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