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Jul 30, 2021 at 12.30am UK at Khalifa International Stadium

Boudiaf (40')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Zardes (86')
Moore (62')

Preview: Qatar vs. USA - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's CONCACAF Gold Cup clash between Qatar and USA, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two of the hottest teams at the moment will play for a spot in the Gold Cup Final when Qatar face the USA at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas on Thursday.

The Maroon are unbeaten in their last 11 fixtures after hanging on to a 3-2 win over El Salvador in the quarter-finals, while the Yanks have won seven consecutive matches, defeating Jamaica in the last eight 1-0.

Match preview

Qatar's Hassan Al Haydos celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on June 7, 2021© Reuters

In the quarter-final round, the reigning Asian Cup champions showed how lethal they are in transition, catching La Selecta napping early and often, taking a 2-0 lead with less than 10 minutes on the clock and looking virtually unstoppable.

In the second half, however, they seemed to get a little cocky after taking a 3-0 lead, and they made some uncharacteristically sloppy mistakes that gifted El Salvador a pair of goals with over 20 minutes still to play.

Despite a ton of Salvadoran pressure late in that match, Qatar were able to escape with the victory and advance to the semi-finals of this competition.

Felix Sanchez will hope that will serve as a wake-up call for his team as they prepare to face an American side who know what it takes to win this competition and are just as good in the final third as they are.

This may be their first experience at the Gold Cup, but the Maroon are a side that know what it takes to make a deep run at a major competition as they have played in their share of them lately, having now made it to at least the semi-finals in three major competitions over the past two years (Gold Cup, Asian Cup, Arabian Gulf Cup).

Qatar have started this competition strong all the way through, but their ordinarily solid defence have shown some vulnerabilities at times, conceding five goals in their four matches at this tournament, which is more than they had conceded in their previous nine games combined leading into the Gold Cup.

Their traditional 5-3-2 formation will need to be at their best to slow down a young, quick, attacking American side who have scored nine goals in this competition to date.

United States forward Paul Arriola (7) celebrates his goal against Guyana at the Gold Cup on June 18, 2019© Reuters

They left it late, but, in the end, the United States kept their hopes alive for a seventh Gold Cup title, scoring with seven minutes remaining against the Jamaicans to make their 11th successive trip to the semi-finals of this tournament.

The US had the bulk of the chances against the Reggae Boyz, but they could not solve goalkeeper Andre Blake until the late stages of that contest.

Gregg Berhalter saw his side collect their 10th victory of 2021 in only their 11th fixture, which ties the national team record set in 2007 for the fastest time to 10 wins in a calendar year.

These tournaments have traditionally been an opportunity for the US to give their youngsters some valuable international experience, and we have seen just how deep they are with their nine goals coming from eight different players.

At the quarter-finals, the average age of the starting 11 for the US was 23 years and 280 days, with an average of 12 caps between them, although it looked as if this side had been playing together for years.

This team may have a 100% record in this competition so far, but the road has not always been a smooth one as they showed that they could be vulnerable to the counter versus the Canadians and the Haitians, even though they did not concede in either match.

Like Qatar, the US have usually started a match brightly at this tournament, scoring three goals in the group stage in the opening 15 minutes, including notching the fastest ever goal at this competition in a 1-0 win over Canada.

Qatar CONCACAF Gold Cup form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

Qatar form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

USA CONCACAF Gold Cup form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

USA form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Qatar's Mohammed Muntari celebrates scoring their first goal against Ireland on March 30, 2021© Reuters

Almoez Ali scored his fourth goal for Qatar in this competition versus El Salvador and now has 34 all-time for his country, which is the third most, just four goals back of Sebastian Soria and two ahead of his teammate Hassan Al-Haydos.

Felix Sanchez went with the same starting 11 as they had in their final group match against Honduras, as Ahmed Alaaeldin sat on the bench for the full 90 minutes for the first time since their opening game against Panama.

Abdelkarim Hassan needs just two more caps to move into a tie with Bilal Mohammed for fourth in all-time appearances for Qatar, while Karim Boudiaf is five appearances away from reaching 100 and Boualem Khoukhi is still looking for his first goal of the competition, currently sitting in 10th all-time with 19 international goals, one behind Sayed Ali Bechir.

Matthew Hoppe made just his third appearance and second start of the tournament for the US, scoring his first international goal in the victory over Jamaica.

Hoppe was one of two new additions to the American starting lineup at the quarter-finals, along with Paul Arriola, who became the 14th different player to captain the US team since Berhalter took over.

Matt Turner, Shaquell Moore and Miles Robinson are the only US players to start all four matches at this competition, while Gianluca Busio became the second-youngest player to start for the Yanks in a knockout game at the Gold Cup (19 years, 58 days), a record that Juan Agudelo set in 2011 (18 years, 221 days).

Qatar possible starting lineup:
Barsham; Ro-Ro, Al-Rawi, Khoukhi, Hassan, Ahmed; Al-Haydos, Boudiaf, Hatem; Afif, Ali

USA possible starting lineup:
Turner; Moore, Sands, Robinson, Vines; Roldan, Acosta, Lletget, Arriola, Dike, Hoppe

SM words green background

We say: Qatar 2-2 USA (USA wins on penalties)

Qatar have shown that they can score and score often, but they will be tested in a way that they have not been in nearly a year, and when a match gets close, their rock-solid defence seems to come unglued.

The US know what it takes to go beyond this stage of the competition, and they have a balanced attack and a defence that can match Qatar, and they know how to win tight matches, winning five of their last seven games by a single goal.

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Schalke 04's Matthew Hoppe celebrates scoring their first goal against Hoffenheim on January 9, 2021
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