El Salvador and Qatar square off in the Concacaf Gold Cup Quarterfinal. We’re now in the business end of this competition, and the drama plus excitement are going to kick up a few notches. It’s also the second meeting for these teams this month. This last-eight matchup is a result of the Group D winner against the second-placed Group A team. The winner plays the winner of the Costa Rica-Canada quarterfinal Sunday. A lot has happened since then, so let’s preview this intriguing El Salvador-Qatar quarterfinal game.
La Selecta are coming off a narrow 1-0 defeat against Mexico in the Group A decider. Despite that, fans and pundits alike were impressed with the second half display in which El Salvador took over control and nearly equalized hitting the post. The six points collected by Hugo Perez’s team have already made this the best Gold Cup campaign in the country’s history. In what is their 12th, it’s now their sixth trip to the knockout stages but have never advanced past the quarterfinal round.
But it’s a bit different this time around. Perez has gotten excellent performances out of Joaquin Rivas, Alex Roldan and Mario Gonzalez in net. The latter especially stood on his head with great saves to keep La Selecta in the game against Mexico. This team is no pushover and with an eye into the future, will give teams a headache as they pressure opponents during World Cup Qualifying.
"I've been lucky in the sense that the players that we have right now have bought into the idea of what we want to do – change our attitude, change our style of play, change our determination."
— Charles Boehm (@cboehm) July 19, 2021
But now they play Qatar. This team was invited into the competition and have made the most of their welcome. In the Group D decider, Qatar handily defeated Honduras 2-0 to top Group D. As a result, Honduras face a much difficult game against Mexico, while Qatar have a difficult match as well. But this team led by Felix Sanchez has some really nice players. Akram Afif has been superb in the group stage with a goal and an assist against both Panama and Grenada. The four goal contributions make the 24-year-old out of Al-Saad the danger man of the team.
However, Qatar has shared the load in scoring nine goals in the group stages. Abdelaziz Hatem and Almoez Ali are tied with Afif for the team lead with two goals, while Pedro Miguel is alongside Afif with two assists. Expect chances for both teams.
What to expect in El Salvador-Qatar
You can expect the now-trademark pressing and possession for El Salvador. They’ve won that category against Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago, while Qatar have lost the possession battle against Panama and Honduras. In fact, these two teams played on July 4th in a friendly to prepare for this tournament. Qatar won 1-0 despite holding 32% possession and two shots on target. So it’s possible that aspects of the friendly come into play in this knockout game.
One major aspect that can also come into play are substitutions. And not just subs that replace tired legs, but subs that score as well. Out of the four goals El Salvador scored, three have been from players off the bench. Qatar usually make their changes in the second half once they’ve scored. This team likes to start fast but that’s where La Selecta’s ball-control style comes into play to nullify them. It’s also interesting how Qatar attack as they’ve used a 5-3-2 formation to combat their opponents. Either way, it’s going to be the end of the road for one team as we start the business end of the Gold Cup.