Ecuador v France – Les Bleus ValueStats
Ecuador v France
Ecuador meet France on Wednesday at the famous Maracena stadium in Rio knowing they are likely to need a win in order to progress in the competition.
A first win in five games gave Ecuador a fighting chance of making it to the knockout stages in Brazil as they held on to earn a 2-1 victory over Honduras in their last outing. Ennar Valencia was the hero again for his country as he grabbed goals in either half – his second and third of the finals, and fifth in his last four matches at international level – after they had fallen behind to a well taken goal by Carlos Costly just after the half hour. It was a scrappy and sloppy game in truth with both sides giving up a host of chances but it did allow the Ecuadorians to leapfrog Switzerland into second place in the group on goal difference. The Swiss were quite fortunate to beat their South American opponents in their opening group clash as they stole victory with practically the last kick of the game from Haris Sefarovic after a quick break, Valencia’s header in the 22nd minute had given Ecuador a half-time lead and although Admir Mehmedi struck within three minutes of the restart there was little to choose behind the sides and no team were especially deserving of the win.
A couple of big victorys, and fantastic performances, have made all and sundry sit up and take notice of this French team at the World Cup. They firstly dispatched the Hondurans effortlessly when Karim Benzema’s brace and own goal by goalkeeper Noel Valladares saw Les Bleus coast to the three points. It was a bad—tempered match which saw Wilson Palacios sent off for Honduras in an incident which led to Benzema opening the scoring from the spot two minutes before half-time. They then put the Swiss to the sword in their second game as Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena, Benzema and Moussa Sissoko all got on the scoresheet before Switzerland grabbed consolation goals through Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka and France would need to lose by four or more against Ecuador to surrender top spot such is their formidable goal difference.
Benzema has now scored nine in his last nine games for France, despite missing a penalty against the Swiss and having a late second ruled out by the an oddly timed referees whistle.
Reinaldo Rueda, the Ecuadorian coach, looks set to name the same starting XI which battled to victory over Honduras as he has no injury worries or suspensions.
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye is ruled out for France after picking up his second yellow card of the competition against Switzerland while Mamadou Sakho is doubtful after picking up an injury in the same game which saw him replaced by Laurent Koscielny. Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba may also be left out to avoid the risk of a suspension for their inevitable last 16 tie as both were booked against Honduras.
These sides have met just once in their history with France the victors as striker Bafetimbi Gomis scored both goals for Les Bleus back in May 2008.
Following their eye-catching displays so far in Brazil it’s little surprise to see France at odds on of 5/6 to win here, even though a draw will be enough to see them top the group. Any fringe players selected by Didier Deschamps will also be out to prove themselves worthy of a starting spot so there will be no passengers.
Ecuador won’t go down without a fight though so take both teams to score in a French victory at juicy odds of 13/5.