Ecuador Preview – Caicedo To Be On Top For La Tri
World Cup 2014
I preview Ecuador’s World Cup chances and picks out my best bets relating to the South Americans ahead of all the action in Brazil.
Draws with Argentina and Holland and a win against Australia in friendly matches since World Cup qualification ended show that this Ecuador side are a handy outfit. Goals, however, are often difficult to come by, with just 20 scored in 16 CONEMBOL qualifiers.
Felipe Caicedo was the top scorer in qualification with seven goals, but three of those came from the spot. And, after the now tragically deceased Christian Benitez – who scored five goals in qualifying – only two other players managed more than a single goal in those 16 games.
Qualification for this summer’s tournament was all but secured with a win over Uruguay in their penultimate match, which effectively played out as a knockout fixture in relation to securing a top four spot. Ecuador would go on to lose their final qualifier in Chile while Uruguay beat Argentina in Montevideo, but a superior goal difference ensured Reinaldo Rueda’s side would not require a play-off tie.
Seven wins and one draw from eight home fixtures accounted for 22 of Ecuador’s 25 points, with only five goals and three points gathered on their travels. The high altitude in Quito where home games were played, undoubtedly but not exclusively, accounted for Ecuador’s success.
Antonio Valencia is the most recognisable of names in the Ecuador squad but the exciting Jefferson Montero complements him aptly on the opposite flank. Former Everton and Wolves loanee Segundo Castillo and former Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo will also be familiar to fans of the English Premier League.
In a group alongside France, Switzerland and Honduras it is likely to be the opening fixture against Switzerland that goes a long way to determining Ecuador’s qualification hopes. A win would put them in pole position, but a draw would leave Rueda’s men looking for a big win against Honduras in their second game. Defeat could spell the end of their hopes at an embryonic stage of the tournament.
At odds of 5/6 (slightly bigger than Switzerland’s 8/13) Ecuador look a good bet to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament. As mentioned above it could come down to the result in their opening game against the Swiss, but they are more than capable of taking three points from that fixture.
The best Ecuador related bet, however, is the 2/1 available on Caicedo to be their top scorer at the tournament. He scored the vast majority (35%) of their goals in qualification and will also be on penalty duty in for his country in Brazil this summer.