Back to Group A – and next up we have the rather inexperienced Ecuador. This time around, a new manager is in place and the squad itself is brimming with 9 player with 3 or less caps – clear to see the new coach is going in a different direction. Here is their squad:
Goalkeepers: Alexander Dominguez (LDU Quito), Esteban Dreer (Emelec), Librado Azcona (Independiente del Valle)
Defenders: Juan Carlos Paredes (Watford), Frickson Erazo (Gremio), Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Jhon Narvaez (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca), Arturo Mina (Independiente del Valle), Mario Pineida (Independiente del Valle)
Midfielders: Christian Noboa (PAOK), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem), Osbaldo Lastra (Emelec), Fidel Martinez (UNAM), Jonathan Gonzalez (Leones Negros), Michael Arroyo (America), Juan Cazares (Banfield), Pedro Quinonez (Emelec)
Forwards: Enner Valencia (West Ham United), Jaime Ayovi (Godoy Cruz), Jefferson Montero (Swansea City), Miller Bolanos (Emelec)
Coach: Gustavo Quinteros
Possible Lineup (4-4-2): Dominguez, Achilier, Paredes, W Ayovi, Erazo, Ibarra, F Martinez, Noboa, Montero, E Valencia, Bolanos
As mentioned, very few caps in that squad, with the vast majority having less than 10. They have a very quick team, full of skill and bursting with pace in all areas, but lack composure at the back. Here’s what I expect to happen
What to Expect?
Great going forward, struggling at the back. They have held their own against some of the biggest teams in South America recently, but then let themselves down with sunday-league style defending. Pace will do so much, often getting you out of trouble but eventually it won’t. Going forward they are decent, with the likes of Montero, Valencia and Ibarra – the former duo currently with Premier League teams Swansea and West Ham. In midfield they are decent – Martinez and Noboa are an established duo that bag a few goals. Dominguez, the captain and keeper – is a safe pair of hands, but with the defence he has infront of him, don’t expect miracles.
The three above mentioned are well known, but one that could surprise a few is Millar Bolanos. The 25 year old striker’s form for club side Emelec (29 goals in 56 games) was enough to earn a call-up under Quinteros, and in his 4 games he has bagged 2 goals, one against Argentina. He had an unsuccessful spell outside of Ecuador (Chivas USA) but since then has returned to his home country and never looked back, performing admirably for loan-side Emelec. He is likely to start alongside Valencia, so keep an eye on him!
Very little value on them – as they are expected to be beaten by Chile and Mexico in Group A, while a win against Bolivia is likely. Their game vs Mexico is the pivotal game, with both expected to lose to Chile. To Qualify, they are Evens at the moment, slightly behind Mexico who are 5/6. Enner Valencia is 33/1 to be top scorer, but don’t bank on that. They should qualify as one of the two best 3rd placed sides, with Group C comprising of Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela, you’d think they have a good shot!
They should get through as either 2nd or 3rd placed team in their group, and will get a tough draw. Cannot see them going any further than the quarter finals, but should provide some high-entertainment games, with their front four being very quick and skillful.