Preview: El Salvador vs. Martinique

Preview: El Salvador vs. Martinique

El Salvador have a chance to win their opening group fixture at the Gold Cup for a third successive time when they host Martinique on Monday at DRV PNK Stadium.

La Selecta will be competing at this tournament for a ninth successive time, finishing second to the United States in their CONCACAF Nations League group, while Les Matinino blanked Puerto Rico 2-0 to book their place in this competition.

A program that looked dead in the water a couple of years ago has been revitalised, and Hugo Perez is a big reason why, as the former American international has transformed El Salvador into a formidable CONCACAF team since taking charge in April 2021.

Under his guidance, Los Cuscatlecos made the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the previous World Cup for the first time in over a decade, made the quarter-finals at the previous Gold Cup, while they qualified for this competition for the 13th time.

Two years ago, this team surprised many at this tournament, posting a pair of clean sheets in their opening two victories, then narrowly losing to Mexico (1-0) and nearly pulling off a miraculous comeback in the last eight versus Qatar when they were 3-0 down and eventually lost 3-2.

They picked up six points in the group phase of this competition two year ago, the most they have ever accumulated since this tournament became known as the Gold Cup in 1991.

Even though they finished second from the bottom in the final round of 2022 qualifying for Qatar, La Selecta were in the thick of the race for a place at the World Cup deep until the latter stages but could not put their opponents away, dropping eight points in the Octagon when leading at the half.

Since their World Cup qualification campaign ended, El Salvador have looked a little flat, winless in four matches played this year and failing to find the back of the net on three of those occasions.

Preview: El Salvador vs. Martinique – prediction, team news, lineups

The small island nation of Martinique are back in this competition once again, putting together a pair of convincing playoff performances, taking out Saint Lucia in their opening qualifier before blanking the Puerto Ricans.

At the 2021 Gold Cup, this team failed to register a point in the group stage for the first time since 2003, though they briefly shocked Canada with an opening goal after 10 minutes and were narrowly beaten in their final match against Haiti (2-1).

Marc Collat has been in charge of this side since December 2021, and he knows a thing or two about surprises as the ex-manager of Ligue 1 side Reims coached Haiti to a semi-final appearance at the 2019 edition of this tournament, topping a group which featured Central American giants Costa Rica, then upsetting Canada in the quarter-finals before losing in extra time versus Mexico.

Finding the back of the net in these continental competitions has not come easily to them, as Martinique only scored once in the group phase of their recent CONCACAF Nations League A campaign, while they only managed three goals at the last Gold Cup.

In 2021, they conceded more goals than anyone in the group phase of this competition (12), though this team have only given up multiple strikes once in 2023, earning a win or draw in four of their five matches played this year.

They have not defeated a Central American team since claiming a 2-0 victory over Nicaragua at the 2017 Gold Cup, which was also the last time they won their opening fixture at this competition.

El Salvador form (all competitions):

Martinique form (all competitions):

We say: El Salvador 2-0 Martinique
Only four Martinique players have more than 10 international appearances, and we believe they will be outmatched against an El Salvador side who are as well disciplined and compact off the ball as anyone in CONCACAF.

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