World Cup Fantasy Preview: Ecuador

Playing for a country and a friend, they will be a handful - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

One day they will play the World Cup in Ecuador and when they do they will start as one of the favourites. This time second round is the target.

Goalkeepers:

Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito), Maximo Banguera (Barcelona, Ecuador), Adrian Bone (El Nacional).

Defenders:

Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Flamengo), Jorge Guagua (Emelec), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona, Ecuador.

Midfielders:

Segundo Castillo (Al Hilal), Carlos Gruezo (Stuttgart), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem), Fidel Martinez (Tijuana), Edison Mendez (Santa Fe), Christian Noboa (Dinamo Moscow), Luis Saritama (Barcelona, Ecuador), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United).

Forwards:

Jaime Ayovi (Tijuana), Felipe Caicedo (Al-Jazira), Jefferson Montero (Morelia), Joao Rojas (Cruz Azul), Enner Valencia (Pachuca), Michael Arroyo (Atlante).

Fantasy players to watch

Walter Ayovi

Left back with a bullet shot.  Scorer of 8 in 89 from fullback and a set piece specialist.  At 34 he playing his last World Cup he plays in midfield for his club.

Antonio Valencia

The teams big name, Valencia plays either on the right of midfield or further forward as an attacking three.  The 28 year old is in his prime and after a poor league season he will be out to prove a point.  Team captain and has had a tattoo in memory of team mate Christian Benitez.

Felipe Caicedo

One of those players who has not matched his talent at club level.  The Ex Manchester City forward can be a powerful handful on his day.  Top scorer in qualifying.

Enner Valencia

Fast powerful and able to play across the front line.  He will be a handful and is in form.  A potential bargain forward

Conclusions

Ecuador have a simple reputation.  When they play at sea level they lose.  However this is a team playing with their hearts.  During qualification they tragically lost teammate Christian Benitez.  Benitez was a hugely popular player in the squad and the main man.  The countries record goalscorer he could play and forward position allow tactical shifts during the game.  During midweeks friendly with England a couple of points became noticeable.  First defensively they gave up way too many chances.  For a team built around keeping a solid shape that will concern.  Second they didn't allow their heads to drop when giving up their lead and going behind.  Further they raised their game to draw level and celebrated as if it was a group game rather than friendly.  They gave me the impression of a squad playing for something more than

just the World Cup.  If this is correct then in a group full of inconsistent teams they may have enough to push into the knockout stages.

Stall

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