Ecuador go to this years World Cup on the back of a national tragedy – Christian Benitez lost his life last summer, leaving the side without an in-form striker. In the year since his death, ex-Man City star Felipe Caicedo and midfielder Enner Valencia have made a makeshift partnership, with three uncapped strikers also in the squad. Here is their 23 man squad:
Goalkeepers: Maximo Banguera, Alexander Dominguez, Adrian Bone
Defenders: Frickson Erazo, Jorge Guagua, Oscar Bagui, Gabriel Achilier, Walter Ayovi, Juan Carlos Paredes
Midfielders: Segundo Castillo, Carlos Gruezo, Renato Ibarra, Cristian Noboa, Luis Saritama, Antonio Valencia, Edison Mendez, Fidel Martinez, Michael Arroyo
Forwards: Felipe Caicedo, Jefferson Montero, Joao Rojas, Jaime Ayovi, Enner Valencia
In a Brazil-less group, Ecuador took full advantage. An interesting fact – they were unbeaten at home, yet did not win away, with the altitude they play home games at a contributing factor. They beat Uruguay to the 4th and last automatic place, leaving Luis Suarez’s team to face Jordan in a playoff. 7 wins and a few draws was enough to qualify!
Ones to Watch:
Enner Valencia – the midfielder-come Striker is now a pivotal part of their team. He has been tasked with partnering Felipe Caicedo, who is playing in a poor Arabic league now. Very important player for them.
Jefferson Montero – along with Antonio Valencia, he is the main winger in the team. With pace, power and strength – he will be vital in their efforts to break down stern French and Swiss defences.
Antonio Valencia – similarly with Montero, Valencia is probably the most experienced player they have, in terms of Champions League football as well as Premier League. A key man!
(4-4-2): Banguera, Ayovi, Erazo, Guagua, Paredes, Gamboa, Castillo, Montero, A Valencia, E Valencia, Castillo.
A good starting 11 with talent on the bench! This will be a tough task for Switzerland, although there are weaknesses in defence that could cost them dearly.
Winner – 150/1
Group Winner – 9/2
To Qualify – Evens
Group Stage Elimination – 4/7
Under 4.5 Points – 4/7
Unfortunately, I think they will exit at the group stage with 3 points, and two defeats against France and Switzerland. Top Tip for Ecuador – Group Stage Elimination @ 4/7.