In the final game of matchday 9 CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Costa Rica entertain Panama at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica on Thursday.
The visitors are just two points behind Canada in the qualifying standings, thanks to four wins in their eight games so far, but find themselves in fourth place. Costa Rica are in fifth place but trail Panama by five points.
As there are only three direct spots available for CONCACAF teams, each of the remaining games in the qualifying campaign is important.
So, both teams will be hoping to secure a better result here than the goalless draw played at the Estadio Rommel Fernández in the reverse fixture.
Costa Rica vs Panama Head-to-Head
The two sides have locked horns 56 times so far across all competitions, with the first recorded meeting between the Central American rivals dating back to 1938.
The hosts have enjoyed the upper hand against Los Canaleros with 30 wins to their name. 14 games have ended in wins for the visitors while the spoils have been shared 12 times in this fixture.
Costa Rica form guide (World Cup qualifiers): W-L-L-W-D
Panama form guide (all competitions): D-W-W-L-W
Costa Rica vs Panama Team News
Of the 25-man squad announced for the upcoming qualifying fixtures, defender Ricardo Blanco has been ruled out after suffering a thigh strain. It remains to be seen whether head coach Luis Fernando Suarez names a replacement for him.
Injuries: Ricardo Blanco
There are no reported injuries among the 30 players called up for the qualifying fixtures, meaning a full-strength squad will travel to Costa Rica for the game.
Costa Rica vs Panama Predicted XI
Costa Rica Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Leonel Moreira; Bryan Oviedo, Keysher Fuller, Francisco Calvo, Ronald Matarrita; Gerson Torres, Yeltsin Tejeda; Orlando Galo, Bryan Ruiz, Johan Venegas; Joel Campbell
Panama Predicted XI (4-4-2): Luis Mejía; Eric Davis, Azmahar Ariano, Fidel Escobar, Michael Amir Murillo; Armando Cooper, Christian Martinez, Anibal Godoy, Gabriel Torres; José Luis Rodríguez, Rolando Blackburn
Costa Rica vs Panama Prediction
Los Ticos' two wins in the qualifying campaign have come against El Salvador and Honduras, two of the bottom-placed sides in the qualifying standings. Panama have looked good in the qualifiers thus far, having scored 11 goals.
While the game is expected to be a closely contested one, a win for the visiting side seems to be the likely outcome here.
Prediction: Costa Rica 1-2 Panama
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