By Sebastian Gonzalez on May 30, 2014
After a red-hot start in the South American World Cup Qualifiers, Ecuador finally cooled down a bit near the end, finishing fourth. Despite the small drop in play, Ecuador remains a quality soccer team with extremely dangerous weapons. Coach Reinaldo Rueda has implemented a system for four years that will surely pay dividends in Brazil. If teams don't prepare themselves, they'll find themselves in a world of hurt against Ecuador.
While no group in the World Cup is "easy", the group that Ecuador drew is a lot more manageable than other groups. Although their match against France will prove to be difficult, both Switzerland and Honduras are match-ups that Ecuador cannot only handle, but excel in. And if they move on, they'll face a team from Group F, where outside of Argentina no real threat lies.
Having missed out on the 2010 edition of the World Cup, Ecuador will be hungry for World Cup success. They are a young team with ambitious players, and teams like that always go above-and-beyond in tournaments like the World Cup. They also have the extra motivation of honoring their late teammate, Christian Benitez, who unfortunately passed away in 2013.
Considering the fact that Ecuador missed out on the World Cup four years ago, Reinaldo Rueda's men come in relatively unknown and untested. They've gone under the radar, at times even in South America. This will let the players operate without the added mental burden, and allow them to play a lot more loose. Conversely, France comes in as World Cup favorites, while Switzerland comes in as a team that dominated their European Qualifying group.
Ecuador's primary weapon is their blistering speed on the wings. With wingers like Jefferson Montero, Joao Rojas, Antonio Valencia and Michael Arroyo, there won't be too many fullbacks that will be able to catch up to them. Reinaldo Rueda likes to play counterattacking soccer, so the second Ecuador regains the ball, they are constantly looking to spray the ball to the wings, where they know their players will always win.
Ecuador's chances of winning the World Cup rest solely in the feet of Antonio Valencia. The Manchester United veteran is impossible to catch in the open field and hides a cannon in his right foot. Sir Alex Ferguson always praised Valencia as one of the best wingers in the world, and if Ecuador wants to win, Valencia will have to play like it. The team can only go as far as Valencia does, but Antonio Valencia isn't one to shy away from big games.
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