World Cup Team Profile - Ecuador
Coach: Reinaldo Rueda
Captain: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
Full Ecuador Roster
The Road to Rio: Ecuador stuck to the script and qualified for Brazil through being excellent at home and picking up just enough points on the road to earn the fourth and final automatic berth available to South American qualifiers.
Consider the records: Unbeaten at home, with their only draw coming against Argentina. On the road, though, they would go winless, managing three draws (at Bolivia, Uruguay and Venezuela).
Level on both points and wins with Uruguay once the dust settled, the difference ended up being Ecuador’s ability to keep visitors neutralized. The plus-4 goal differential that kept them out of the Continental playoff against the AFC was in large part to outscoring the opposition 15-3 at home, compared with fifth-place Uruguay’s nine goals conceded on home soil.
Last World Cup appearance: Germany 2006 (Round of 16)
First World Cup appearance: Korea/Japan 2002 (Group Stage)
Previous World Cup appearances: 2
Best World Cup finish: Round of 16 (Germany 2006)
Ecuador will be dedicating their World Cup trip to Christian "Chucho" Benitez. The striker died suddenly last summer after suffering cardiac arrest brought on from a game played for club team El Jaish in Qatar. The Tricolor hope to honour Benitez by replicating their performance at the 2006 World Cup in Brazil where the team, of which Benitez was a member, made it to the Round of 16.
Though their mission is an admirable one, Ecuador faces an uphill battle to advance from Group E.
Ecuador's biggest asset might be their camaraderie and team spirit. As individual players, this certainly isn't the most talented side in the tournament, or even their group for that matter, but, perhaps pulled together by Benitez's memory, the team functions as a unit much better than it has any right to, it seems.
Valencia is easily the team's most talented player. A keen attacker and capable of defending better than competently, the United man is coming off of a poor season at Old Trafford (granted, you could probably say that about anybody on United) and will look to bounce back in Brazil. Christian Noboa (Dynamo Moscow) and Segundo Castillo (Al-Hillal) will help comprise an effective centre midfield with Jefferson Montero (Montelia) on Valencia's opposite wing.
Rueda is unlikely to start two pure forwards and will go with Enner Valencia (Pachuca) playing ahead of the midfield with former Manchester City striker Felipe Caceido (Al-Jazira) as the target man up front. Enner (no relation to Antonio) has excelled in qualifying playing forward and Ecuador hopes that he'll be able to develop an understanding with Caceido. It should be noted, though, that Caceido's inclusion is based more on Rueda being bereft of other options, as the gaffer has publicly criticized Caicedo in the past.
Due to a lack of players playing in high-quality leagues, the Ecuador backline is a clear weakness and can be exploited. What is of even greater concern, though, is the team's inability to win outside of Quito and the fear that this trend will carry over into the World Cup.
If that's the case and defending doesn't hold up against the likes of a French attack, Ecuador's time in Brazil could be short, but feel really long.