ECUADOR SQUAD CONUNDRUM - FLYING HIGH IN WC QUALIFIERS, IS THIS THEIR YEAR TO CAUSE AN UPSET IN COPA AMERICA 2021?

On any other day, you might think that there is no way have a shot at doing well in . But things are different this time around as they have had a fruitful 2020 campaign. Ecuador are currently 3rd in the Qatar 2020 qualifiers and are looking like they are about to easily go through, but the question is, can they carry this momentum in 2021? Read our analysis and decide for yourself.

 

ECUADOR IN THE HISTORY OF COPA AMERICA

Ecuador are only 1 of the 2 countries in CONMEBOL that haven’t won the prestigious title. They haven’t even reached the top 3, the closest they ever came was in 1993 when they finished 4th in the competition. In recent history, they have been mostly knocked out in the group stage except in 2016 when they managed to reach the quarterfinals but lost to the hosts, USMNT.

 

Ecuador National Football Team

Image Courtesy: FIFA

 

Ecuador are currently the second-worst team in South America according to the Fifa World Rankings and have never been taken seriously in the competition, but this time they are looking like the dark horses of the competition. Ecuador needs a dub in the 2021 Copa America if they want to add some respect to their nation in terms of footballing ability. They are highly disrespected and hence they need to show the world what La Tri can bring to the table. They have improved throughout these years and the world cup qualifiers are clear proof that they are not supposed to be taken lightly.

 

PLAYERS AND TACTICAL ANALYSIS

The majority of the Ecuadorian players are playing in the domestic South American leagues and haven’t ventured out to Europe yet. The squad is young with a few experienced players like Enner Valencia and Christian Noboa. Their head coach, Gustavo Alfaro was appointed in august 2020 and has taken Ecuador by the storm ever since.

Ever Since his arrival, Ecuador have played 6 matches out of which they won 4. They won 6-1 against Colombia and 4-2 against Uruguay. Currently, they are 3rd in the table, with only 2 points behind Argentina and they only need to be in the top 5 to qualify for the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

 

Gustavo Alfaro

Image Courtesy: Twitter/ La Tri

 

The Argentine coach sets his team out in multiple formations and they even switch mid-game. In the few matches we have seen Ecuador under Alfaro, he starts them in a 4-2-3-1 formation but while on the counter, the formation shifts into a 4-2-4 kind of formation as the wingers get more central occupying the half-space as the full-backs push the ball ahead.

Ecuador likes to use the flanks as much as they can and they use their young and pacey full-backs to do so. The central midfielders are used to support their defenders rather than partake in the final third action of the game. The midfielders Christian Noboa, Moises Caicedo and Sebas Mendes are often seen playing risky balls to the central attacking midfielders so that they can push the ball upfield as quickly as they can. Since they don’t have possession of the ball for most of the game, they feel the need to attack whenever they get the hold of the ball and because of this, they give the ball away a lot.

 

Enner Valencia

Image Courtesy: Twitter/ La Tri

 

Ecuador likes to press the ball but they don’t maintain a high press. They tend to press in their own half and then start the link-up play right away. As of now, the main problem they face is that although they have a good shooting accuracy, they aren’t creating as many chances as they are supposed to.

They go wide in order to create spaces in the opposition defensive line but they aren’t able to get the ball to star players like Enner Valencia, Angel Mina and Michael Estrada in the attacking front. With the current playing style they need to make sure their passes and long balls are accurate or else they won’t be able to make any difference during the small-time they get the ball. They need to make the most of every attack in the first 60 minutes because they also tend to run out of juice in the latter part of the second half.

 

POTENTIAL PLAYERS WHO MIGHT IMPRESS

Michael Estrada, the 25-year-old centre-forward is the man in charge of leading the attack for Ecuador. He plays in a prominent league in Mexico and had a decent last season. Estrada has so far played really well under Alfaro. Alfaro also has the ability to play with a second striker and we might see club legend Enner Valencia and Estrada forming good chemistry during the counterattacks.

 

 

If Estrada plays as a lone striker, he will face difficulties in keeping the defenders off him as he isn’t a strong physical player. He also needs to outpace his opponents throughout the 90 which is definitely going to be a challenge against teams like Brazil.

 

PREDICTION FOR COPA AMERICA 2021

Since 4 out of the 5 teams in a group will qualify for the knockout round, all Ecuador has to do is not be the worst team in the group, in this case, Venezuela maybe. We predict that they will surely reach the knockout stages and if they play smart, they might even go all the way.

 

 

It depends on who they end up playing in the quarterfinals, if they get an overwhelming opponent, it’ll be an unlucky early exit for La Tri. We don’t really know the fate of this team, but what we do know is that they are an exciting outfit that might cause trouble for the top teams if they reach far in the knockout stages of the competition.

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